The Jam played three games this week, and their struggles continued for the most party. The team lost to both the Reno BigHorns and the LA D-Fenders before finally pulling out their first win last night against the Idaho Stampede.
The team will play again on Tuesday, against the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Much like last year, the BigHorns bring one of the fastest-paced offenses on the planet to the court every game, which leads to monumental scoring outbursts from time to time. This game, maybe a little bit disappointingly, was just slightly higher scoring than most.
The teams appeared fairly evenly matched in the first half, but Reno came out of the break and dropped 41 in the third quarter, essentially sealing the game. In the loss, however, there were signs of improvement from the Jam, who won the rebounding and turnover battles.
Reno was led by Ricky Ledo (30 pts, 9 rbds), Reggie Hearn (30 pts, 5 rbds), and NBA veteran Sundiata Gaines (23 pts, 8 rbds, 5 assts). The team shot 44.4% from beyond the arc, a troubling number for the Jam, who have struggled so far this season defending the 3 point line.
The Jam were led by Xavier Munford (35 pts, 4 assts) and CJ Wilcox (26 pts, 5 rbds, 6 assts). Worryingly, Derek Cooke Jr. managed to score zero points in nearly 30 minutes of play. It will be important for the Jam that this ultra-athletic player becomes more comfortable in attempting shots if he is going to play this much, which at this point is a near requirement given the team's lack of size.
This was the first matchup between the Jam and the D-Fenders this season. The D-Fenders are widely seen as a top competitor in the West to knock-off the Santa Cruz Warriors, and as such this was an important test for this new Jam squad.
The Jam continued their trend of better rebounding, going even with Los Angeles, but continued the sloppy ball-handling, allowing 12 steals, many of which led to fast-break opportunities. The Jam had the lead going into the 4th quarter after a strong start, but crumbled down the stretch, giving up a 17 point swing in the final quarter.
The D-Fenders were led by Manny Harris (31 pts, 5 rbds, 4 assts), Vander Blue (24 pts, 5 rbds, 5 assts) and Lakers assignee Anthony Brown (22 pts, 3 rbds, 3 assts). The Jam were able to hold the D-Fenders to under 40% from beyond the arc, which is an improvement over earlier games.
The Jam were led by Earl Clark (22 pts, 5 rbds, 4 assts), CJ Wilcox (22 pts, 5 rbds, 4 assts) and Xavier Munford (20 pts, 6 rbds, 9 assts). The lack of three point shooting from non-assignment players is becoming a glaring issue. Without counting Wilcox, the Jam attempted just 11 3FG, and made just 2. The Jam players will need to work on this going forward.
The Stampede appear to be an improved team this year, with the addition of NBA veteran (and ASU alum) Jeff Ayres, along with rookies Treveon Graham (VCU) and JJ O'Brien (SDSU). In this game, however, the result was rarely in doubt, as the Jam jumped out to a big lead in the 2nd quarter and held it throughout the rest of the game.
Derek Cooke Jr. continued his struggles, and was benched early in favor of Javier Carter, which proved a good move from coach Chris Jent. Carter ended up with 6 points and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes. The Jam strongly out-rebounded the Stampede (+17), continuing their strong improvement in that area. Also improved was the ball-handling - the Jam gave up just 6 steals, and 14 total turnovers.
The Jam were led by Earl Clark (23 pts, 10 rbds), CJ Wilcox (18 pts, 8 rbds), Terrico White (15 pts, 6 rbds, 3 assts) and Branden Dawson (14 pts, 7 rbds). The team shot poorly from beyond the arc, but there was more involvement from players that are not CJ Wilcox, which has to be seen as an improvement.
The Stampede were led by Treveon Graham (18 pts, 9 rbds), Jeremy Williams (16 pts, 5 rbds), and Jack Cooley (9 pts, 10 rbds). The Stampede shot terribly, just 33.3%, and seemed to struggle all night with just about every facet of the game.