Season Ticket Review: Deconstructing the third

I misspoke during my recap last game. Our horrible loss to the Anaheim Arsenal wasn’t our fifth in a row. It was merely our fourth.


Game 13: February 9th, 2007

Los Angeles D-Fenders (14-14) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (15-13)

Now, last night — THAT was our fifth.

After winning four in a row, the Skyforce have streaked back to earth after losing their last five. Additionally, since Christmas, we’ve only won one game at home (not including the NBA D-League Showcase game, which season ticket holders were, for some reason, blacked out of). It’s been a rough patch. Kerrie didn’t even want to go to the game last night, because she was positive of the outcome.

Of course, we had troubles before the game even started. Yet another Skyforce star realized the dream and was called up to the NBA. This time it was starting center Jared Reiner, a former NBA star and one our two NBA D-League All-Star Game participants (along with Stephen Graham.)

So, over the past few months, we’ve lost Andre Brown (Seattle Sonics), Vincent Grier (somewhere overseas), Amir Johnson (back to the Pistons), Jared Reiner (Milwaukee Bucks), Jeff Varem and Joe Dabbert (both to injury). That’s a lot of players. That’s a lot of (D-League level) talent.

Now (with Jeff Varem back) we’ve only got one center, and even that’s a rough description. The players don’t gel like they did when Andre Brown was quietly pulling off double-double, 20/10 games. We need help.

Varem had a rough night back, showing he wasn’t cut out to be our savior. He couldn’t hit a shot and seemed afraid to get in a tangle. It’s understandable – after all, he was out with a knee injury and didn’t want it banged up again. But this means someone else needs to step up – soak up the fouls, throw the elbows, commit to being a presence down low.

Unfortunately, the rest of the team seemed to Varem’s lead. I’ve never seen so many people be so utterly surprised that the ball was coming toward them. We didn’t look like we even recognized the basketball, let alone knew how to successfully catch it. We didn’t react to rebounds until they were already in our face, leading to a barrage of flying hands, unsure catches, and missed rebound opportunities.

We looked like we were afraid to touch the ball. We committed 22 turnovers to LA’s 15. LA had 12 steals, we had 4.

“Eek, there’s the ball! Get away! Run!”

The third quarter started the way most of our third quarters have started lately: horribly. We’re tied to our third quarter performance. I thought I’d check out the stats, and I found there’s quite a correlation, actually.

When the Skyforce wins the 3rd quarter: 9-1.
When the Skyforce loses or ties the 3rd quarter: 6-13.

How’s THAT for the importance of the half-time talk? When we come out fired up – ready to play and rested and not dragging from watching the Empire Mall Star Search (which we did, suffering through a too loud Journey cover and a comedic magician who had been creatively dubbed “The Comedic Magician) – we win the quarter and, except for once, the entire game. When we fail to score more than the other team, we win just 31% of the time.

(Take that, ELIAS Sports Bureau.)

Of course, all of this could have been remedied in the fourth quarter. We came back, we looked good, and we had a little momentum. And then, this series of Skyforce possessions:

Possession 1: Whistled dead. Offensive Foul.
Possession 2: Whistled dead. Offensive Foul (Stephen Graham, who had four fouls just two plays ago, has now been fouled out with 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.)
Possession 3: Whistled dead. Carrying.
Possession 4: Whistled dead. Offensive Foul.

These four possessions stopped our momentum. Completely. We were dead from then on. Our best player had been fouled out (through horrible officiating and picky calls that weren’t being made for the other team – and I’m not just being a homer by saying that… these calls were horrible.)

Your best player should not be fouled out with 8 minutes left in the game, especially on such incidental contact and horrible flopping.

These refs, though, were rather gullible. Several obvious flops were called for both teams all night. But this series of events made up the worst grouping of calls I’ve ever seen in a game. The crowd was flabbergasted after the first two. Now imagine another bogus call, followed by ANOTHER offensive foul. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles D-Fenders (who use the Lakers’ colors and have one of the worst names in the league) were getting away with murder at the other end. I mean, come on.

Here’s the worst part – Frank Williams broke out of his slump and had a great game with 30 points. He didn’t even get ejected (and, unfortunately, there were no player outbursts during the bogus run of sloppy officiating either – I was hoping for Mo McHone to come out swinging).

What a waste of a good game.

Oh well, it can’t be that bad tonight, when we play the D-Fenders again, can it?

Can it?

Skyforce 94, D-Fenders 104

This was lovingly handwritten on February 10th, 2007