Posts belonging to Category General

2013-2014 Austin Toros: A Look Back

As the 2013 -2014 NBA D-League season comes to a close, teams are looking back at the season along with their rosters and doing one of two things.  They are looking at what adjustments they need to make as they begin their journey in to the playoffs or they are evaluating their players’ performances with an eye towards next year.

Unfortunately for the Austin Toros, they find themselves in the cellar of the NBA D-League’s Central Division and looking towards how to prepare for next season.

While their 19-31 record left much to be desired, the Toros were be among league leaders in field goal percentage at 46.7%.

pittmanGoing in to next season, the team will have to work on improving the on the offensive end.  While they were among the league leaders in field goal percentage, their offense in the paint was slowed down by their lack of three-point shooting.  The Toros averaged 8.1 shots made which put them among the bottom half of the league.   Defenses were able to clog the paint due to not having to worry bout guarding as tightly on the perimeter.

The traffic in the paint also prevented guards from being able drive to the basket.  As a result, the Toros were tied with the Erie BayHawks for the least amount of free throw attempts per game with 43.3 trips per game.

On the defensive side of the court, the Toros excelled at protecting the rim.  Opponents shot 33 percent within 10 feet.  The mid-range to the perimeter areas are where teams hurt them, shooting 38 percent from these areas of the floor.

Among the Toros players that spent a majority of the 2013-2014 season with the team, Ronald “Flip” Murray led the team with a 21.8 points per game average. Dexter Pittman was among league leaders with 2.3 blocks per game. Myck Kabongo was not far down the list with 2.0 blocks per game

In order for the Toros to reclaim the NBA D-League title, they will need to get back to basics and focus on protecting not only the paint but making sure opponents get tough looks from the perimeter and on mid-range jumpers as well.


Toros close out season with win over Vipers

The Austin Toros closed out their 2013-14 season on Saturday with a win over the RGV Vipers.

The Vipers were playing for playoff seeding, while the Toros came in with an 18-31 record that eliminated them from the playoffs. Previously, the Toros were 1-6 against the Vipers, but a 129-125 win ruined the Vipers’ chances at the Central division title..

The Toros were led by Flip Murray, who scored 32 points, and Courtney Fells, who finished with 28 points and six rebounds.

If you missed the game, you can catch the full replay below.

Sponsors, jersey logos, and the NBA

Photo by Ronald Oswalt

Photo by Ronald Oswalt

As online gaming operators join the sponsorship market, will we finally see more corporate logos on NBA jerseys, taking a cue from several D-League teams?

While jersey sponsorships are the norm in international basketball, and the WNBA also now sells jersey sponsorships, we’re starting to see more and more D-League teams sport logos. It’s also very well known that the NBA treats the D-League as it’s R&D arm, so is there a chance NBA teams will have logos on their jerseys like the Texas Legends did during Sunday night’s game against the Toros. 

During the height of online gaming’s entry into the New Jersey market late last year, we saw the beginning of what could become conceivably become the norm in a few years’ time: online casino sponsorships of NBA teams. The Philadelphia 76ers were the first to enter into such a deal alongside the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

The practice is relatively new in the US, but online casino sponsorship has become a tried and true tradition in Europe. So much so that it’s become a major factor in the money league list compiled by Deloitte every year. Online gaming operators constantly court high-profile soccer teams in bids to be what has become known as official online partners. The companies pour money into their sponsored teams’ development funds while reaping the increased exposure afforded by having their logos plastered on everywhere from team uniforms to stadiums.

“It’s basically the same as sponsorship deals in the US, except that over here there’s no advertising on jerseys. Well, not yet, anyway, because if the aforementioned deals prove fruitful then it may come to pass that we’ll see more teams sign up with online gaming operators. The Warriors or the Cavaliers, for example, might join with medieval-themed online casino site due to the whole medieval fighters theme in their names. Maybe even the Wizards could get in on that, with the Suns and the Thunder signing up with either an energy production or energy drink company.”

At the very least, it may reignite talk of corporate logos on team jerseys. You’ll remember that there was some talk about the NBA opening its arms to jersey sponsorships a few years ago. The league approached the possibility cautiously through limited deployment in its Development League teams in 2012. During that time, financial services company BBVA got its logo splashed across the back of team jerseys used in the D-League playoffs.

A number of teams also inked sponsorship deals of their own. The Springfield Armor, for example, rocked jerseys with the MGM Springfield logo. The Erie BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley Vipers signed similar sponsorship deals with LECOM and Lone Star National Back, respectively. The Toros have a partnership with supermarket chain H-E-B, although so far only our WNBA team, the Stars, has the sponsor logo on its official jersey.

While that particular experiment didn’t successfully reach the majors, that doesn’t mean it definitely won’t happen. Now that new corporate entities are entering the sponsor landscape, there’s no telling exactly what the future holds.

Toros dogged by Legends 92-92 on Hoops and Hounds night

Toros fans were joined by their pets for the Toros' Hoops and Hounds promotion. (Photos by Ronald Oswalt)

Toros fans were joined by their pets for the Toros’ Hoops and Hounds promotion. (Photos by Ronald Oswalt)

CEDAR PARK– In a close match, the Austin Toros came up short to the Texas Legends 92-93 Sunday evening at the Cedar Park Center. The game was titled “Hoops and Hounds” and fans were allowed to bring their pets to the game.

The game was well received by pet lovers, who had their own section and were featured in several in-game promotions. The announced attendance was 2,945 for the game.

The Toros dominated first half action leading 56-43, but the second half was in favor of the visiting Legends 50-36.

Toros guard Flip Murray led all scorers with 21 points and seven rebounds. Dexter Pittman recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jonathan Simmons and Courtney Fells added 16 points respectively.

The Legends were paced by Mavericks-assigned Ricky Ledo who scored 18 points off the bench. Marcus Hubbard finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.

The Toros got off to an early lead, outscoring the Legends 30-20 in the first quarter. Luke Zeller was a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from beyond the arc to record 10 points. Going into halftime, the Toros led 56-43.

The Legends began to chip away at the Toros lead, outscoring them 21-14 in the third quarter and 29-22 in the fourth. With just seconds remaining, former Longhorn Damion James went to the line sinking his second attempt to put the Legends up 93-92 for the eventual win.

The Toros (17-31) play their last home game on April 3rd against the Canton Charge. The Legends (23-25) continue their road trip as they take on the Sioux Falls Skyforce April 4th.

The Squeaky Johnson archive and Best of SqueakTV

With the recent acquisition signaling the return of Carldell “Squeaky” Johnson to the Austin Toros, we thought we’d pull out some of our favorites in his time with the Toros.

Johnson has always been a Toros favorite, and he even produced his own video show distributed via Toros Nation a few years ago called Squeak TV, which gave Toros fans a closer look inside the life of a D-League player.

But first, here is the archive of our features and interviews with Johnson.

Squeaky Johnson: Finding success in the face of adversity (March 2011)

A display of talent, defense and professionalism: Squeaky Johnson (March 2011)

Clutch Shooter returning to Austin. An interview with Squeaky Johnson (Nov. 2010)

Squeaky Johnson: A player of the rise (Sept. 2010)

SqueakTV Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 6

Dawson, Murray among snubs as no Toros selected for All-Star game

2014 D-League All-Star gameThe 2014 D-League All-Stars have been announced, but the game will be without an Austin Toros player as none were selected to participate.

Just two seasons removed from a D-League championship and having the league’s MVP, Justin Dentmon, the Toros still have a team full of talent but have been mostly overlooked due to their lackluster 11-15 record.

Eric Dawson is one of the Toros that could have made the All-Star team. When comparing his numbers to an All-Star forward such as Shawne Williams of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Dawson averages two more rebounds, .6 more blocks and .5 more steals. Williams does average more points, 18-14, than Dawson, but Williams has only played in three D-League games this season while Dawson has appeared in 21 games with 18 starts.

The Toros leading scorer (not named Nando), Flip Murray, didn’t get an All-Star nod either, despite averaging 18.5 points. Before the season, it would have seemed Josh Howard would have been a lock to make the All-Star team but it seems the wear and tear on the former NBA All-Star’s knees have taken a few steps away from him. (more…)

Video: Cedar Park Center transformation

The Cedar Park Center is not only home to the Austin Toros, it also hosts the Texas Stars AHL hockey team, and on some days, it plays host to both teams.

On January 1, the Toros played an afternoon game, followed by a Stars game that same night.

Here’s a video (courtesy of the Stars) showing the quick transformation from Toros home court to the Stars’ rink.

Toros drop three spots in D-League Digest power rankings

The Austin Toros are 6-4 in their last 10 games. They’ve outscored the opposition by 8.2 points (per 100 possessions) in this span, the highest differential in the D-League, and the offense has crept within inches of the top-ranked Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But the Toros dropped three spots in Gino Pilato’s power rankings. They are 12th (out of 17 teams).

Via D-League Digest:

Nando De Colo is with the team one moment and gone the next, but when he’s with Austin the team is always dangerous. Ronald Murray has been a steady force for the Toros, and the recent addition of Dexter Pittman could pan out.

Although, those are two rather old names to be hoping for, the Toros will need to rely more on Malcolm Thomas and Aron Baynes assignment stints in order to move up in the rankings.

The Toros are difficult team to pinpoint — their point differential (3.5 points per 100 possessions) is fifth in the D-League, indicative of an elite basketball team, but their winning percentage is ninth, a hair below average.

Nando De Colo and Malcolm Thomas, habitually sent down to the D-League, will likely play less minutes with Austin, given the injuries to Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. Austin has outscored their opponents by 26.9 points per 100 possessions when they share the floor — otherwise, the Toros have been a very bad basketball team. It’s a strange dichotomy.

While I would put the Toros in the top 10, by virtue of their elite point differential, it has been heavily weighted by the presence of De Colo and Thomas. Neither figures to play significant minutes in the interim, putting the Toros in a hole for the time being.

Legends, Mad Ants replay final 0.9 seconds of November game

An officiating oversight — the officials granted the Texas Legends a technical free throw, because they believed the Fort Wayne Mad Ants used a timeout they didn’t have — led to one of the weirdest situations in NBA D-League history.

Via USA Today’s Sam Amick:

On Nov. 22, an incorrect technical foul was assessed to the Mad Ants with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation that led to a Legends free throw and a supposed 100-99 win. The Mad Ants had used a timeout that an official incorrectly believed they didn’t have, which led to the incorrect technical foul call and a subsequent protest that was granted two weeks later.

The controversial 0.9 seconds, and maybe more, would be replayed.

Mad Ants guard Peyton Siva missed the full-court heave, sending the game to overtime. Fort Wayne prevailed in overtime, 105-99, erasing Texas’ victory off the win-loss ledger.

Legends coach Eduardo Najera, presumably frustrated with the outcome, didn’t meet Fort Wayne coach Conner Henry at mid court following the game.

“I honestly wish that none of this would have ever happened,” Henry said. “But if somebody has to win, then I’m glad the Fort Wayne Mad Ants did.”

Spurs assign Baynes, De Colo, Thomas to Toros

Malcolm Thomas

Nando De Colo and Aron Baynes, who had one-game stints with the Austin Toros before being called back up, were reassigned to the Toros today along with the San Antonio Spurs’ recently-signed Malcolm Thomas, who has previously played in Austin.

As Paul Garcia noted on our sister site, Project Spurs, Baynes finished with with 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in Austin’s 114-102 victory over the Delaware 87ers while De Colo scored a game-high 29 points, along with eight rebounds, eight assists and six steals.

Thomas, a former San Diego State teammate of Spurs starting small forward Kawhi Leonard, previously played for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League. Through two games this season, he was averaging a league-best 33.5 points and 15.5 rebounds.

All three players are available for today’s home game against the Reno Bighorns, which will be starting shortly.