Season Ticket Review – Shaking off the rust

You’ll have to forgive the choppy nature of this post. It’s Skyforce season again, and while I haven’t bothered to touch upon sports since the Olympics, and basketball has been off limits since the Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship, I’ve been drug back into the Season Ticket Review by the pleading looks of a handful of loyal, if not sorely misled, fans.


Game 1: November 28, 2008

Iowa Energy (0-0) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (0-0)

Let’s just say I might be a little rusty.

More than just the writing, too. I’m rusty in being a fan. I’m rusty in understanding the nature of semi-professional basketball – the up and down nature, the streakiness, the completely unreliable lead.

Oh, the unreliable lead. How it gets me every time.

The Skyforce season began rather well. Up by 15 points near the beginning of the second half, I was already moving on to the next game. I was thinking of how easy it seemed. How well the veteran players seemed to be meshing. Our shots were falling. Our team looked fantastic.

I was thinking about how much crisper the team looked, a notion Kerrie mentioned several times. They looked more polished, less like the CBA team they used to be and more like the nearly-professional team they now are. Two years in the NBA D-League, with two years worth of great players and two years worth of Nate Tibbits experience, must have done the team a lot of good.

It was the best way to start out the first game of the 20th season, with a commanding win over a team that might soon become as big of a rival as the Dakota Wizards.

There was only one problem.

It was still only the third quarter. The Skyforce must have been rusty, too.

Because they ended up losing by 12.

Um, guys? Just so you know, that’s an awful way to treat a fan in section P who was already making plans for the playoffs.

It was the fourth quarter that killed us. Iowa shot 70% and outscored our guys 42-20 in the final quarter, and it seemed as if Iowa had constructed some kind of invisible robot that trolled the paint, knocking each shot a little off center, forcing ungodly shots and keeping the ball from ever entering the basket down low.

The defense was led by Courtney Sims. 22-point, 17-rebound, 11-block Courney Sims. That’s not a typo. That’s a triple-double. Including blocks.

Because I watched a lot of Boston Celtics playoff basketball last year, and because I often have delusions of grandeur when it comes to understanding the fine points of the sport, I began to formulate a complex reasoning as to why the Skyforce had suddenly found themselves sucking air.

It was the Rajon Rondo scenario, with big man Courtney Alexander playing the part of Rondo, a can’t-score defender who was needed on one end and a complete liability on the other. Knowing he can’t score, he wasn’t taken seriously. He was left wide open. He was given free reign down low. Setting the pick on a pick and roll opportunity failed because his teammates wouldn’t pass it to him. And his stat line shows his failure to help: 2 points on 1-10 shooting, 5 turnovers. Of his 13 rebounds, nine were offensive – easy shots, almost all of them either missed or blocked by Sims.

It was as if they were playing 4 on 5 offensively.

But I now see that it was more basic than that. We never bothered to establish an inside game. And when we did, we were sorely outmatched. There wasn’t much Iowa could do when we were making our jump shots. But when they stopped falling, the Skyforce began their own downward spiral.

Live by the jump shot. Die by the jump shot.

It was an awful way to start the season. But at least one thing is for sure – we can’t go anywhere but up.

Skyforce 101, Iowa 113.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 30th, 2008