The Springfield Armor opened the 2011-2012 season on a positive note, defeating the Maine Red Claws 94-87 at home on Friday night.
It was the first game and win for new head coach Bob MacKinnon. It was also the first official game under the new hybrid formation with the Nets. The Nets, MacKinnon, and General Manager of Minor League Operations Milton Lee –- also in attendance –- are trying to turn Springfield into a winning team after two mediocre seasons.
Friday night’s win wasn’t an easy one, but it’s still a win and hopefully a great start to a new era in Springfield.
My take on the victory:
Defense –- The Armor forced the Maine Red Claws to commit 24 turnovers. Springfield runs a smaller lineup out there and used their quickness to create turnovers. Those Red Claws miscues also led to 19 fastbreak points for the Armor.
Offensive Boards -– Springfield came down with 18 offensive rebounds Friday night compared to Maine’s seven. It isn’t just getting the rebounds. It’s the aggression the Armor displayed on the glass. Even if Springfield didn’t come away with an offensive rebound there was at least someone going up and tipping it or getting a hand on the ball. Former NC State-star Dennis Horner came away with six offensive boards (10 in all), and a seemingly slimmer Jamar Brown grabbed four (also 10 in all).
Attacking the Hoop –- Springfield seemed to get to the basket at will in the first half. Driving to the hoop led to Springfield spending a lot of time at the foul line, shooting 20 more attempts from the charity stripe than Maine, finishing 32-of-39. The Armor also penetrated the lane to draw defenders then kick out to open shooters from deep.
Shooting – It was a miserable night shooting for Springfield. As a team, the Armor shot 33% from the field and 30% from behind the arc. I didn’t like the shot selection in the second half. Springfield really settled for jumpers as opposed to attacking the basket like they did in the first half. However, I believe this won’t be an every-game occurrence, as Springfield has too many good shooters to have nights like this. Jerry Smith, JamesOn Curry, and Lance Hurdle, all good shooters, combined for 12-41 from the field.
Frontline –- Horner and Brown both had double-doubles, but I still feel Springfield needs another big man down low to seriously compete this season. The Armor drafted former Pitt star and Golden State Warriors forward Chris Taft in the fourth round of the D-League Draft, but waived him due to a knee injury. The Armor retain his rights for two years, so if he can recover and rejoin the team, this should be a really tough team in the paint.
By the numbers
Leading scorer — Jerry Smith, 22 points
Leading rebounder — Dennis Horner and Jamar Brown, 10 rebounds
Leading dime-dropper —Jerry Smith, 5 assists
Next Game: vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Dec. 2 at home.