(Idaho’s Corey Violette, missing a 3 from the top of the key. On the very far right, Quin Snyder, resplendent in a puke green shirt)
Justin Bowen, that is, the Toros forward whose game high 25 points led the Toros to a 95-89 defeat of Idaho in Game One of the ’08 D-League Finals. The Stampede blew an early 12 point — largely built when Toros C Ian Mahinmi landed in early foul trouble. Darvin Ham recorded a double double for the hosts and received a rousing ovation when leaving the floor in the waning moments — I’m sure that’s happened somewhere else in the past 5 years, but fuck if I know where.
Though Bowen, Mahinmi (nursing a leg injury suffered last Saturday) and Ham were the stars of the night, special mention oughta go to Josh Gross, whose rejection of a Luke Jackson breakaway layup in the 4th quarter essentially snuffed out the very last sign of life from Idaho.
37th overall pick Josh McRoberts managed to take up plenty of oxygen while accumulating 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 1 flagrant foul in 15 action packed minutes for Idaho. Of the nearly 2300 in attendance (a fair number of whom, I’m guessing, didn’t pay for a ticket), a surprisingly low percentage came to heckle the former Dookie.
Much has been made of the Austin Convention Center’s lack of basketball ambience, but playoff ThunderStix aside, the combined Spurs/Toros organization oughta be proud. It was a respectable turnout given the Toros’ semi-final win just took place 48 hours ago, and considering the tremendous amount of roster turnover over the franchise’s third season, it’s astonishing Snyder has imposed something approaching a discernible style of play, let alone the Toros being on the brink of a championship.
Conversely, the Stampede (who have no shortage of real talent, most notably D-League slam dunk champ Brent Petway) seem to favor the playground D best typified by having 4 players converge on whoever is holding the ball. Said strategy actually works rather well when Carldell Jackson attempts his Alexi Kovalev-in-sneakers impersonation, but luckily for Austin, such instances don’t make up the bulk of the evening.