Week of January 23rd – January 30th (Includes games vs. Maine – 1/24, vs. Utah – 1/26, vs. Utah – 1/28, vs. New Mexico – 1/30)
Despite a less than spectacular start that seemed to foreshadow trouble, this past week turned into the most productive one since the beginning of the season for the Texas Legends. Antonio Daniels is firmly back as playmaker, Matt Rogers has discovered his scoring touch, and the Legends may have found a new pet starting lineup. Also, we have a new Dojo to dissect with newcomer Dominique Johnson (Dojo 2.0).
The week didn't start as planned when the Maine Red Claws (that's seriously their name) came to Frisco and won a sloppy game 95-89 to snap a 5-game road losing skid. The Legends shot only 40% in a game that seemed so winnable, but they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a meltdown in the 4th quarter. It wasn't an ideal start, but rather than let the loss dictate the rest of the week, the Legends decided to pull a total 180.
The Utah Flash coming to town must've been the perfect prescription for the Legends' woes as they stomped the Flash 106-88 on the 26th. Remember that new pet lineup we were talking about? Well it started right here. Coach Lieberman opted to start Booker Woodfox over Justin Dentmon, and have Justin come off the bench in the 6th man role. Give her credit for the move because it clearly sparked the Legends to a successful week, and hopefully for the rest of the season.
On the 28th, Utah decided to show their faces in Frisco again only to walk away with a close loss (101-99). They can thank Antonio Daniels for that one as his last second layup sealed the L for the Flash. Finally, Sunday the 30th rolled around bringing the New Mexico Thunderbirds with it. The Legends were previously 0-2 against the T-birds before the 111-102 victory, running Texas' current winning streak to three.
Now, the Legends will head off into the sunset of Albuquerque, New Mexico for a two-game roadie. It was a busy week for all of us and I'm tired, so shall we recap?
With Sean, Antonio and, Joe's "Call-Up Watch", there is plenty to discuss in this week's Down On The Farm Report … from newcomer Dominique Johnson (not Jones) to the rest of the Frisco Fighters… On to the Legends' player evaluations! There were four games this week and as always, these stats are weekly averages.
Joe Alexander, F, 23
MPG-36, FG-48%, FT-72%, 3FG- 1-6, PPG-15.5, RPG-9.3, APG-3.3, SPG-0.5, BPG-0.5, TO-2.5:
You know you're good when a 15-point/10-rebound stat line is considered a down week. That's the case with Joe who saw his stats slide, as incremental as it may be, for the second straight week. Matt Rogers continues to emerge as a useful player and while Joe is still a far superior player to Matt, that emergence seems to have taken some of the offensive load away from Joe in the post. This change in offensive philosophy may have led to a few mental lapses for Joe after getting used to being the main option. Honestly though, it is hard to blame him right now. Let us explain.
The Jedi (as the fans in the Dr. Pepper Arena are learning to lovingly call him) has a unique situation. Joe came to the Legends in hopes of quickly catching on with an NBA team. Although we stand by our assessment that he will, the fact is it hasn't happened yet. So, he keeps working away in the minor leagues waiting for his next shot. Think about his mentality at this point. ... Oh, and as DallasBasketball.com first reported in this space, Joe A. did have a Mavs tryout along with Sasha three weeks ago, with Sasha, of course, winning out.
How does Joe ensure that he stays motivated? How does he continue to bring the same passion and enthusiasm to work every day? We're sure he still does, but it becomes increasingly difficult.
It's a grind. It would be a grind for any player in that situation. The season is so long and it can drag on so there will always be lulls. As long as Joe understands that he WILL get his next chance, the motivation will be there. Additionally, Joe was given a tryout with the Mavs earlier in the year and now they have an opening for another possible 10-day contract. There are always possibilities to consider.
All of that being said, the guy still averaged nearly a double-double this week.
That's how you know you're good.
Antonio Daniels, G, 33
MPG-37, FG-25%, FT-85%, 3FG- 0-7, PPG-10.8, RPG-3.8, APG-10.0, SPG-2.0, BPG-0.0, TO-4.0:
Against Maine, AD didn't appear totally engaged with the game. He was frustrated most of the night and even got slapped with a blatant tech while arguing with the refs on a non-call. This was troubling for a number of reasons, but mainly because the rest of the team can potentially meltdown watching him act this way since they view him with such high regard.
That's why the rest of the week was a sight for sore eyes. Despite his shot still shaking off some rust, his vision and leadership were badly missed by the team in his absence. We understand it is very cliché to say so, but much of what he brings to the table doesn't show up on the score sheet. He is a teacher and a coach in addition to the starting point guard. Specifically, his presence has helped Matt Rogers whose stats have jumped significantly in correlation with Antonio's return.
What does show up in the box score is his 10 assists a game, including a nice 16 dime doozy on Sunday. The highlight of the week for AD though was on Friday against Utah when he smoothly slithered through the lane and dropped the game winning layup in with 3 seconds left.
His return, as well as the return of his game, is so very welcome to this squad.
Sean Williams, F/C, 12
MPG-36, FG-54%, FT-67%, 3FG- 0-1, PPG-13.0, RPG-10.8, APG-0.5, SPG-1.5, BPG-2.8, TO-3.5:
As usual, "The Minesweeper" spent the week grabbing boards and swatting shots into the stands. In the mold of Tyson Chandler for the Mavericks, Sean's ability on the offensive boards down the stretch in a close game can be the decider. That was the case in the nail biter against Utah as Sean got his team chance after chance with offensive rebounds.
Sean's energy remains through the roof, but his scoring has dipped a bit and he is scoring less in the post. His post-moves are based purely on athleticism and not as much on skillful movement, so defenders may have adjusted to that. Williams' turnover numbers were also pretty troubling this week especially for a non ball handler. Considering his low usage rate, the turnovers are even more disconcerting. He hasn't had that problem all year though, so for now we consider this week's turnover problem a bit of an aberration.
To a lesser extent, Sean finds himself in the same boat as Joe. He's performed well, but has yet to gain a call-up the NBA. It's coming big man, just keep sweepin'.
Justin Dentmon, G, 4
MPG-31, FG-48%, FT-86%, 3FG- 7-21, PPG-17.8, RPG-3.0, APG-2.3, SPG-1.8, BPG-0.0, TO-1.3:
Justin is playing efficiently considering his change in role and minutes. Previously this year,
Justin was averaging over 42 minutes a game and had the ball in his hands nearly every play. Now, the DentMAN is coming off the bench in the 6 th man role as a scorer. The kid deserves a ton of credit for adapting to this role. Role acceptance is what the Mavs preach on a daily basis and clearly Coach Lieberman is a'preaching away with the same message.
The one thing we want to see more of from Justin is an increased free-throw rate, as he only took 7 shots from the line this week. There were times you could catch Justin at the line 15 or 16 times a game. Obviously, we recognize some of this is due to his new role and decreased minutes, but there were many times when Justin could have killed off the second game against Utah with a hard drive to the basket. We were waiting to see a drive from Justin when Utah was rallying, but it never came.
We're splitting hairs at this point though, because we're happy with the adjustments Justin made this week. Throw in his 1.3 turnovers per game and you've got yourself quite a team player.
Matt Rogers, F/C, 32
MPG-33, FG-60%, FT-58%, 3FG- 0-1, PPG-16.8, RPG-9.0, APG-0.0, SPG-0.8, BPG-2.0, TO-2.5:
Matt began to show improvement in his game/confidence last week and he continued to build on that the last few days. Mr. Rogers looked much quicker and more mobile on offense than we have seen. All of this improvement is a result of his increased confidence. When he gets the ball in the post and does not hesitate, good things happen. He even seems quicker off his feet for offensive rebounds and blocks. He will always have his deficiencies on the defensive side against quicker players, but offensively he is looking more like the prospect that the Legends expected when they took him in the first round of the draft this year.
Matt spent the week displaying how well he can finish around the rim while confident and in position. As mentioned earlier, he even got enough plays called for him in the post as to take some of the offense away from Joe Alexander. There is plenty of room to continue improving, but this whole week was a very positive sign for Matt.
Booker Woodfox, G, 11
MPG-25, FG-43%, FT-100%, 3FG- 4-14, PPG-10.0, RPG-1.8, APG-3.3, SPG-1.3, BPG-0.0, TO-0.0:
Booker Woodfox's insertion into the starting lineup and Justin's acceptance of his role off the bench were the catalysts to the team's successful week. His stats weren't eye-popping, but his versatility allowed the Legends to keep opposing teams off balance with Justin coming off the bench to run the second unit. Also, as evident from the bump in his assist numbers, his playmaking in the offense is increasing as well.
Dominique Johnson, G, 9
MPG-17, FG-61%, FT-100%, 3FG- 2-9, PPG-10.8, RPG-2.8, APG-1.0, SPG-0.8, BPG-0.0, TO-1.0:
Dominique Jones may be up in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, but there is a new DoJo in town. Dominique "Don't Call Me Jones" Johnson was signed by the Legends last week and has been a pleasant surprise. Dojo 2.0 is one smooth customer. The rookie out of NAIA school Azusa Pacific plays the game with the calmness of an NBA veteran. He shot the ball well this week and had a very solid turnover rate. Not to mention he looks so much like Dwyane Wade he could be his twin, which can't hurt. Keep an eye on this kid.
Kelvin Lewis, G, 22
MPG-17, FG-38%, FT-88%, 3FG- 2-10, PPG-6.8, RPG-1.5, APG-0.8, SPG-0.8, BPG-0.0, TO-1.0:
With the emergence of another wing in Dojo 2.0, someone had to lose minutes and the casualty this week was Kelvin Lewis. This doesn't speak to Kelvin's ability as much as it does to the newfound depth for the Legends at shooting guard and small forward. Kelvin continues to be one of the best wing defenders on the team though, so he will always have his value. The proof is in the pudding as he was assigned to guard Ronald Dupree on the final play against Utah where the Legends won the game.
Dupree didn't touch the ball.
Moussa Seck, C, 99
Not a ton action for the big man recently, but Moussa was 7 foot 5 all week long. That's consistency right there!
This week's MVP: Based on improvement and unexpected contribution, we're giving this week's Texas Legends MVP to Matt Rogers. Our massive committee (one guy) had no problem seeing the improvement this week in Matt's game. If these kinds of contributions become consistent, the Legends will be stacked for the upcoming stretch run. Congrats Matt!
Here's to a big week and four more big wins!
Go Legends and Go Mavs.
Texas Legends Quote of the Week:
"one of my guys called last nite to say thank u coach 4 giving me an opportunity to follow my dream. so simple, yet powerful. we're only human." –Legends Coach Nancy Lieberman via Twitter
For Mavs and Legends insider updates follow Kevin on twitter @kevinbrolan
Upcoming Texas Legends Games (Home Games in Bold):
Tuesday, Feb 1 @ New Mexico Thunderbirds – 9:00 pm CT
Wednesday, Feb 2 @ New Mexico Thunderbirds – 8:30 pm CT
Saturday, Feb 5 vs. Tulsa 66ers – 7:00 pm CT (Texoma Tussle VI)
Sunday, Feb 6 vs. Erie Bay Hawks – 2:00 pm CT