Wednesday, April 2, 2008

D-League Liveblog? That's Deeeeeeelightful!

That's right, peoples. I'm coming to you live from the Austin Convention Center as the Toros take on the Thunderbirds. If you want to follow along, kiddos, the game's streaming over at

Why should you care?

Because tonight I've got more pro talent than Oakley's birthday. Julius Hodge, back from a stint in Australia. Phoenix rookie and all-time leading scorer at Wisconsin, Alando Tucker, WVU standout Kevin Pittsnogle, Spurs assignment and future Duncan replacement, Ian Mahinmi, and former Nugget Carldell Johnson. Boom!

So get this. The Toros and Albuquerque have been trading all season, and now all the guys know each other. Also, Kenton Paulino for the Toros hit the winning shot to end Kevin Pittsnogle's WVU Mountaineers magical run two years ago. So there's that.

Dorsey's got great speed, right off the bat. Him versus Andre Barrett to start off with should be, well, blindingly fast.

Pittsnogle got yanked from the starting lineup. That's interesting.

Dorsey keeps trying to harrass Andre Barrett, and Barrett keeps looking at him, like "I just got back from the Clippers. Please."

Dermarr Johnson really should have worked out. He's got the length, he's got the touch. If you're looking for a veteran three, he wouldn't be a bad pickup.

Toros up 11-4 early. Serge Agounou just killed his man with a pumpfake and layed it in. Should have dunked that. Also, the Thunderbirds coach looks like he's heading out for a round of golf. Tan shirt and khakis. Then I remember that he lives in the middle of the freaking desert. I'd wear white, too.

They have this DJ with ridiculous glasses who works the game. We've also had some sort of high school girl's act with batons, and of course, my personal favorite, later on we'll have the giant spinning bottle of barbecue sauce. Mock it all you want, it's no better at a Charlotte game. We have proof.

Actually not a bad crowd here tonight. I'm hoping folks will show up for the playoff game, since there's a better than even chance the Toros are going to the championship.

"Hi, my name is Ian Mahinmi. I'm big. I'm French. And I will wreck you. "

And Jeff Ruland is angry in khakis. Technical fouls do happen in the D-League, by the way.

Corey Underwood keeps going after Ian Mahinmi. He's either heard that Ian goes to pieces when he starts to pick up fouls, or he very much enjoys the feeling of the ball being forced down his throat.

You can tell Tucker is only mildly interested in this game. I wouldn't blame him considering he was guarding Manu Ginobili two months ago. And in response, he nails a jumper. I understand, Alando. I still love you.

22-7, and the Thunderbirds have just decided they don't want to guard Mahinmi at all.

Woah, okay, seriously, my bad, Tucker's got some nice moves.

Apparently coach happy slacks got tired of the crap the Thunderbirds were putting out and subbed in four players. I don't think I've seen that in a long while.

Oh, good. We have D-League hecklers behind me. Awesome. "You stink, Pittsnogle!" *Pittsnogle drains three. "Awww..."

Mahinmi at some point needs to learn not to go to the fadeaway against the bigger guys. They may be bigger, but he's stronger.

The DJ has a jersey that says "D-Train." I'm going to resist the obligatory, "yeah, that's what I ran on your mother" joke.

Big lineup for the T-Birds. Darvin Ham (you may remember from Texas Tech and the Pistons), Chayne Gadson, Conroy, Mills, and Pittsnoggle.

New Toro Josh Gross has an awesome beard. Modified chops. Ian just airballed a hook. Not exactly the type of NBA caliber play Popovich is looking for.

9-0 run by the T-Birds.

More expert heckling from behind, "You guys stink!" Awesome, nice job.

Everytime the heckler yells at Pittsnoggle, he drains a three. I wonder how many Pittsnoggle has to score to get him to shut up. 40?

You can tell the Toros miss Marcus Williams. They've got no primary driver.

I'll take Quin Snyder's in game coaching over anyone's. The constant yelling, working the refs, hand motions. It's like a one-man show with fantastic hair. Wait, did I just write that? I've been watching What Not To Wear with the wife too much.

26-21 Toros at the end of 1, DerMarr's got 11, Pittsnoggle with 10. Man, I'll tell you, Pittsnoggle has filled out. He's got a whole poor man's Mehmet Okur thing going on.

Again with the missing Marcus. Pick and roll to the baseline and no one followed the ball. Luckily Yemi Nichols decapitated the young man. Always tragic to see, but necessary, since he missed the free throw.

Sweet Jesus, Darvin Ham is big.

Toros are tired from the road trip. They don't have their usual energy. Keep it on the down low, but Justin Bowen has turned into a reliable scorer. He's got a nice touch and a versatile set.

No! Pittsnoggle missed it when the heckler yelled "You Suck!" No, Kevin! You'll only encourage him!

33-32 Toros, Bowen gets picked, T-Birds lead by one. Toros are exhausted. Quin's also got a reserve lineup in. Thank God, here comes Ian, Barrett, and DerMarr.

Barrett with a three. I still don't really understand that whole, "Smush Parker is way better" thing the Clippers have going.

And now for the only part of the night that features actual noise. "Free stuff!" I hate this part of the game. People go absolutely bezerk for this stuff and for the life of me I can't figure out why.

Thoughts while pondering more in-game entertainment: You ever think about what a truly cruel musical chairs is, yet a perfect teaching tool for life? Completely unfair, totally random, debilitating to one's self-esteem. I'm Mr. Happy Thoughts tonight.

More "You sucks!" to everyone now.

Barrett nails another jumper, he's got 8. If he could just grow three inches. Maybe stilts... hmmm....

Mahinmi can pretty much score anytime he wants to, when he settles and works. And he's giving up 20 pounds to Pittsnoggle.

58-49 Toros. Pittsnogle has 17 in the first. Mahinmi with 13 and 8, 2 blocks. It's good to be the king.

Josh Gross was supposed to be the replacement for Marcus. Maybe he's just getting used to the system, 10 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 turnovers. Ew.

Toros have more turnovers but more fast break points. Odd.

T-Birds with a run to start the third. DerMarr Johnson would be incredible for this league if he were to attack the rim a lot more.

Great defense by the T-Birds.

Correction: Kevin Pittsnogle would be like Mehmet Okur, if Mehmet Okur were rooted to the ground by his legs, firmly planted deep into the crevices of the Earth.

You can't give Barrett the jumper. You just can't. If you give him range, he's killer.

See, there KSnog goes again. I make fun of him, he nails another jumper. 19 for the Nog.

"You suck Hamm!" on the way to the scorer's table. Hamm responds with a bow. Classy. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from a blogger, but heckler's really do suck. I'll criticize a guy if he doesn't do his job well, but I respect what he does for a living and the effort he does. If Hamm were to come and bug this douchebag at the 7-11, he probably wouldn't think it's so awesome.

THANK YOU DARVIN HAM! Ham lets his coach know about the heckling douchebag, and he's tossed! Coach was about to climb over the seats to erase his ass. It's a shame, because the crowds here are usually pretty good.

I love that moment when you can tell a team is surging. It's palpable, and it's a beautiful thing.

So Darvin Ham has a championship ring, it turns out, with the Pistons. He has size, and range. It's clear he's on a different level from the rest of the guys. You have to wonder what injury did to his career. Seems like a good leader, though. Also, he has one of those terrible free throw shots that are so endearing.

Oh, good, we've added Hooters girls to the big giant spinning barbecue bottle game. I hate Hooters girls. That adds the classiness to the awesomeness. Kill me.

Darvin, you may be big, but Ian is the Future.

The other place the Toros miss Williams is on the pick and roll. Barrett's not tall enough to lob the entry pass on the roll, Ian doesn't have the range for the pick and pop, and DerMarr is too much of a perimeter player to assist.

JAW DROPER BLOCK BY MAHINMI! AND THE SLAM AT THE OTHER END! The block, he extended forward and simply overpowered the drive. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 starting center for the San Antonio Spurs, Ian Mahinmi.

For some reason the T-Birds keep going with small guards. Gadson's got some length, but Conroy doesn't have hardly anything.

DerMarr can stroke it from the outside, though.

82-74 Toros after three. One more solid burst by the Toros in the fourth shoot put 'em down. The T-Birds don't really have anyone that can create that much offense. Even though Pitts has 21. He's only got two rebounds. Little effort, big guy. Little effort. Andre with 9 in the 3rd, he's got 19 and 7. Mahinmi with 21 and 11.

Darvin Ham is 35 and has out-hustled every guy on the floor tonight.

Former Toro Cheyne Gadson hits a three, it's a three point game, T-Birds ball. Anytime you want to get that "burst" guys.

T-Birds within 1. Another block for Mahinmi. Three consecutive offensive fouls against the Toros. I'm waiting for Quin to blow his lid.

T-Birds by one, 7:14 left. Yikes. The Toros just look exhausted after their road trip. Cheyne has been killing it against his former team. Stupid revenge games. In other news, I hate audience dance contests.

Justin Bowen has terrific range, and he's really worked on it. If he keeps his defensive growth up, he could really develop.

DerMarr Johnson ties it with a three from the corner. Mills answers, the T-Birds can't miss right now.

Bowen with the floater, Barrett is injured. That is bad. BAD. Not good. They already are thin on point guard.

Gadson with the dunk, all tied at 95, 4 minutes left. Ian with the hook. He's incredibly solid in the left post. Bowen's lost on defense. The switches the T-Birds are putting on him are flipping him out.

Back and forth, 2 minutes remaining, T-Birds by one. Gadson has absolutely murdered the Toros defense this quarter. Hamm strips Ian, scramble. Jump ball.

This is quite exciting. Ian on Pittsnoggle. They double, he gets pissed, jump hook, good. Toros by one.

Toros off the rebound, to Mahinmi, to Bowen, good, and one! Barrett's back! Good times in the ATX!

Toros by 4, 1:14 remaining. Toros win, they clinch a playoff berth. They need this one. Don't tell me the D-League's not important!

The Toros Bull is doing the Soulja Boy. Seriously, guys. That dance jumped the shark when we played it at my wedding.

Also, Ramon Sessions, who you may have heard nailed the game winner for the Bucks over the Wiz tonight? Most of the season? D-LEAGUE!

Ham hits a layup, and then an offensive foul? Oh, crap. T-Birds within 1 and th ball. Stolen by Bowen!

Barrett has no burst. Ham, basket and the foul! Went away from Ian and drew the foul. Veteran move.

Ham nails it, Toros down by one. 24.8 seconds remaining.

Is YMCA really appropriate in this scenario? The entire place is doing it. Apparently, it is. Sigh.

24 seconds, need a shot. It's gotta be Ian or Bowen. I don't think DerMarr's going to get the separation he needs. Stolen on the inbounds! Barrett just doesn't have any sort of acceleration. Two shots. Mills makes them both, 3 point game. Well, hell. Barret airballs a shot with 12 seconds left on the clock. That was not a wise decision.

Foul, Toros are going to drop this one. Not much they could do there. Barrett's the only guard you can trust, and you don't have any other ball handlers. Wow. Killer breakdown.

Postgame, Quin's pretty distraught.

"Team just had mental breakdowns down the stretch. We played well in the beginning, but just coulln't keep it together."

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