After our last defeat to the Orange County Nova Stars 116-109 and losing one of our more productive players Mark Simmons to injury, the Buckets have had to make adjustments to keep the roster fluid and strong. As we climb into the meat of the season we have the opportunity to host our first international basketball game with the Shizouka Gymrats coming to town this week. The game will be one of the Gymrats many American competitions against ABA teams throughout the country and Tucson has the privilege of taking them on. Over the last several months the Gymrats have been traveling the United States playing team after team preparing themselves for their official regular season over in Japan. The Tucson Buckets look to get back on their winning ways with our game this Wednesday.
Tucson Buckets vs. Shizouka Gymrats will take place Wednesday January 27, 2016 at 7 P.M at Mountain View High School. Bring the family and friends out as we look to create an annual relationship with our overseas friends. Changing the culture starts with making relationships with dedicated organizations and showing the city how dedicated we are as a franchise to bringing something new to the city. We need the fans support in making these things happen!
The cost of this event will be $5 in an effort to pack the gym and welcome our friends the best way possible. Mountain View High School is a wonderful venue and we look forward to seeing all of our fans and supporters there to have a good time with us.
Coach Marc Johnson has been taking on all comers attempting to add depth to our roster. Recently we were able to pick up a needed big man to help us become more physical in the paint. Our lack of depth at the big man position has been one of the defining factors in a few of our losses, even though we believe we could be undefeated right now. Teams that have had big men to control the boards have been able to limit our smaller roster, get offensive rebounds and force us into bad shots. A remedy was needed to change that. Enter our newest addition Chris Kemp.
New aDDITION TO THE LINEUP
Take a look at our new addition-
Chris Kemp is a 6’8 Power Forward/ Center who played for the University of Montana. His skills on the court look to be a perfect marriage for our growing team. He will be introduced on the roster in our game against the Shizouka Gymrats on Wednesday. His highlight reel is below.
Tucson Buckets AZ/CAL ABA Showcase Recap- Jan 9th and 10th
Tucson Buckets came into the past weekend holding on to a not so impressive 0-4 record. Looking to add some new energy to start the year, we put together a division showcase that allowed for 4 of our top neighboring teams to come down and compete. The weekend started with our Buckets taking on the Arizona Scorpions, a team that defeated us handily up in Glendale. The next day, in our home gym, they took us down in OT in an instant classic game. We believed we were the better team, but some mistakes down the stretch helped them get the W.
Coming into Saturday’s match up, the Buckets had a month to get their minds together under the new leadership of Head Coach and GM, Marc Johnson. Coach Johnson’s effect on the team was evident as we jumped on the Scorpions early. #35, Mark Simmons, lead the way with a strong 20 points, with #30, Saul Mancinas, and #6, Marcus Campbell, helping to crash the boards. Rebounding has been an issue for our smaller team, but the new defensive scheme allowed for more team oriented rebounding efforts which played a big difference in the Saturday’s game. The Scorpions fought back in the 4th quarter, but could never get through the tough Bucket defense. Tucson Buckets won the game 107-93, holding their opponent in the fast paced ABA game to under 100 points. The result was the first official W of the Franchise.
Saturday was packed with competition. Following the Buckets win, we placed the Orange County Nova Stars up against the Las Vegas Jokers. Their first meeting of the season proved to be a tough test for the undefeated Nova Stars team. Their star player, #14 Vince Camper, put on a show netting a triple double (18 Points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds) to keep his team undefeated. Las Vegas looked much more polished than their previous performances this season. Orange County took home their first win of the showcase with a final score of 132-121.
Sunday brought the Tucson Buckets players into a new position as an ABA organization. They were winners looking to start a streak as they took on the Las Vegas Jokers to close their showcase. The Jokers got off to a great start pushing the buckets early. They had a 37-30 lead after the first quarter. The Buckets were able to stabilize the Jokers in the 2nd quarter with a strong defensive effort. The Buckets scored 41 points in the 2nd quarter to take a 5 point lead with #22 Chad Carter hitting a buzzer beater before the half to give the Buckets a 71-66 lead.
After climbing their way back, the Buckets took control putting up the franchise’s highest point total to date - 153 points! #35 Mark Simmons once again lead the way with a strong 30 points and 6 assists. #24 Donte Williams ended the day with a double double (24 points and 10 rebounds). #20 Dimitri Chonis chipped in 20 and 5. #9 Jatai Gonder had 15 coming off of the bench when the team needed it most. Good game, fellas! The Buckets took home their 2nd win of the season, 153-127.
Game #2 on Sunday put the Arizona Scorpions up against the Orange County Nova Stars. These are the 2 veteran programs of our division, and it proved to be a classic game. #14 Vince Camper of the NovaStars came to play once again. The Scorpions did a pretty good job on him for most of the game. Scorpions controlled the pace and had the undefeated Novastars team on the ropes late. They continued to fight back, getting a tough five second backing down call to give them the ball with 6 seconds remaining on the clock. They threw the ball in, swung it to the far corner for a wide open 3 as time expired, dropping nothing but net, and lifting the Novastars over the Scorpions 94-93 in an instant ABA Classic. This undefeated run to Tucson for Orange County will be tested this SUNDAY as they travel back to Tucson to take us on at Pima Community College West campus. Game starts at 2 PM, so bring the family, and let’s show the ABA what type of support we have as we continue to build this rivalry.
The ABA Showcase was an amazing event, and we look forward to organizing more events of this caliber in the near future. Thank you to Mountain View High School for hosting our weekend ABA Showcase.
We will be posting pictures and the highlight reels that our partners at Local E magazine helped to create for us throughout the week. See you Sunday!
Tucson buckets VS. oRANGE coUNTY nOVA STARS Tip off at 2 pm- Pima COMMUNITY college-west campus
After a slow start to the season and some disconnect with the Tucson Buckets players and previous coaching staff, we had to take the holiday season to reevaluate our approach. We have put significant amount of energy into growing this organization but the commitment and play were becoming a concern especially losing in the manner that we did early in the season. As a first year organization discovering our identity in a new league and with a team that lacked a proper training camp has been a learning lesson to say the least. Fortunately, we were able to assemble a team that had some prior history of playing around the city with each other. Chemistry has never been an issue with our roster. Each player enjoys one another and has one goal in mind and that is to win by any means. Although our turnovers and lack of fluidity during the initial four games of the season would indicate otherwise, we believe the team is on the verge of great things.
As a start up business we were forced to make a decision on the direction we wanted our organization to go. Mario Ramirez although one hell of a coach just did not deliver the personality we expected from our players. This being said the organization decided to part ways with coach Ramirez in December. We thank him for helping us get this organization off the ground but a change was needed to spark a needed flame. Our players have responded well since the change and come this weekend we will be able to show case our next growth. 2016 AZ/CAL DIVISION ABA SHOWCASE
Coaching Change with hopes to help our growth
The new head coach and General Manager of the Tucson Buckets is Marc Johnson. Johnson played 13 years in France in European Professional League. He brings a professional attitude adjustment to our organization. We started this journey with a roster full of players who for the most part had little to no professional experience. The weekly grind of sustaining a professional career is new to our players and having someone who worked and played professionally provides our players someone with respectable experience and knows how to handle the grind. His influence has already shown in the manner of practice since he was named interim coach in late December. He had a three weeks of unrestricted practices as well as a tournament Title on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation before Christmas.
Being a Tucson bred ball player and resident with a son who plays junior college basketball right now he has been maneuvering through the Tucson basketball scene for decades. Playing at The University of Montana Billings he grew to be very solid professional player. He sees the Tucson Buckets organization as an opportunity to provide Tucson athletes an opportunity to be a part of competitive basketball on a weekly basis. We are inviting the best ball players in the city out to play/ practice for our organization. Even I you can’t play, your energy and effort can help mold a championship team. We are young and eager to attract those who can bring a positive impact to our franchise.
Coach Johnson has a big vision for the Tucson Buckets franchise. He wants to utilize his connections to help bring our players overseas to compete with teams in France. Our job is to create an opportunity for our players to reach whatever level they can. We never want to hinder their growth just because we lacked personnel that could provide a valuable platform. Practices under coach Johnson are strenuous and tedious but the players are responding well. His hunger for perfection has made a significant difference on the play of our guards, an area we needed strengthening.
Trip to Orange County spoiled by Slow Start
Tucson Buckets took their 0-3 record on the road this weekend to Orange County, California for a rematch with the team that started this inaugural season off for us. The Nova Stars are ranked number 11 in the ABA polls and have a 2-0 record coming into this game. Although our record would indicate differently we have had very competitive performances this season but lacking in execution has been the detriment to a young team. The organization and players are finding its way in this new league and adjusting to the referee styles and unique ABA rules in a short time frame. With that being said, we prepared to take our first out of state road trip with the mentality if we can put a full game together we will be in prime position to start winning.
Coach Ramirez emphasizes sharing the ball and playing hard nose defense despite our lack of size in the paint. We have a quick and talented team but where we struggle is creating shots for our teammates. Getting off to slow starts has been an Achilles heel so far in our young season causing an uphill battle from the jump in 2 of our 3 games. Saturday Night was no different.
Orange County Nova Stars came out of the gate utilizing their overall size to take advantage down low. They quickly got the Buckets in foul trouble making Coach Ramirez adjust his approach early. The Nova Stars took a commanding 15-6 lead before the first media time out was taken and from there were able to stretch the league as far as 28 points in the first half. Turn overs played a major role in the slow start, inaccurate passing and fouls kept the Buckets out of rhythm as well.
Midway through the 2ND quarter is where the Buckets were able to take advantage with their quickness. With the help of the 3D rules implicated in the ABA the Buckets were able to get a few extra points which spurred on a run to end the half. After starting so poorly as they did, the Buckets were able to cut the lead to 10 60-70 at half time.
#24 Donte Williams and #11 Tony Lillard kept the Buckets in the game with their aggressive play. #11 Tony Lillard ended the game with 26 points and #24 Donte Williams had 21. The team came out in the 2nd half with much more energy but the size of the Nova Stars made it difficult for the Buckets to control the boards.
#21 Brandon “Bea Love” Miller took the rebounding into his own hands with 8 rebounds alone in the 2nd half, giving him 14 on the night. Bea Love also helped to jump start the 2nd half push with 2 back to back 3’s and a drop off pass to Donte Williams on a back door cut that cut the lead to 8 points and put the Buckets in good position to make a classic comeback. #9 Jatai Gonder also knocked down 2 big 3’s to help narrow the gap even further.
#20 Dimitri “Meech” Chonis and #35 Mark Simmons could not find a good rhythm on Saturday but contributed with timely rebounds. Meech also made a few highlights with put back dunks while Mark had 4 steals, 2 of which helped score extra points on 3D plays. #12 Devante Harkins played solid as well contributing to 12 points and 5 rebounds in times where rebounding was dire.
Going into the 4th quarter the Buckets were down 104-92 with the Nova Stars looking tired which I could tell by their lack of legs on their free throws. The 9- man rotation of the Tucson Buckets finally started to wear down the bigger Nova Star team in the 4th and the Buckets capitalized by pushing the ball and pressing, forcing turnovers and getting the lead as low as 3 points. After exhausting an abundance of energy, in the end the Buckets ran out of gas the last 3 minutes resulting in our 4th straight loss to start our inaugural season. The Final Score was Orange County 127 and Tucson Buckets 121.
Tucson Buckets travel back to the city with a 3 week break until our next game and nearly a month until our next home game. January 2nd we will be facing the Las Vegas Jokers in Las Vegas where we will be looking to start the year with much more success on the court than 2015 brought us. Looking to utilize these few weeks to fine tune our turnover problems and really get a hold of the ABA rules. We believe we have a strong core and can bring wins with the team we have put together. We are still looking for a big man to solidify our roster this season but with the bulk of our games coming in January and February we have ample time to find the missing piece to our puzzle.
You can watch the live stream of Saturdays game, take a look and tell us what you think we should do to get out of this slump. We are a young organization but we are looking to bring home W’s at all cost. We look forward to seeing everyone in January. There is a lot of good news coming out in the next 2 weeks stayed tuned and keep sharing our website and Facebook page and we will keep bringing positive energy and good basketball to Tucson! #GetBuckets
#11 Tony Lilliard- 26 Points, 4/6 from 3, 3 assist and 2 steals
#24 Donte Williams- 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assist, and 1/3 from 3
#21 Brandon Miller- 13 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assist, and 3/5 from 3
#9 Jatai Gonder- 10 points, 2/4 from 3, and 2 assist
#35 Mark Simmons Jr- 9 points, 2 assist, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals
#12 Devonte Harkins-12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assist and, 2 steals
#30 Saul Mancinas 9 points, 6 rebounds
#6 Marcus Campbell- 11 points, 7 rebounds, 0/1 from 3
#20 Dimitri Chonis- 9 points, 3 assist, 5 rebounds, 1/6 from 3
Photos from Saturday 11/21 in Glendale Tucson Buckets at AZ Scorpions 107-85 Final Score AZ Scorpions
It was finally time to test the resolve of our newly assembled team. Adding players to our practice and reserve roster has helped us in growing the competitive edge we believe we need to thrive in the professional ranks. Our players and coaches have been hard at work after taking our first loss in franchise history. It has been two weeks since we last stepped on the court as a full roster. We debuted our new jerseys to the public this weekend. The new stylish team jerseys made for us that we hoped would help with the legitimacy are as an organization.
Our first road game is up against the Arizona Scorpions a 120 mile drive to the only other ABA franchise in the state of Arizona. We recently played them in an exhibition but this would be the first opportunity to showcase our full team on a road gym. These are the type of trips that build team chemistry. A weekend of basketball and an opportunity to establish a proactive rivalry between the two franchises.
The Arizona Scorpions came out in the first half and punched us in the face. The team looked sloppy at points and in some instances our nerves were showing. The beginning of the game started with turnovers and that seemed to be the theme of the entire game for the Tucson Buckets. The Scorpions played a good game offensively, dominating the backboards and holding our small line up to a poor shooting performance.
The 2nd half Tucson played much better and competed with much more confidence. Mark Simmons lead the way in that game with a tough 26 points in a road loss they will like to forget 107-85. This game opened the eyes of most of our players. The work has to be completed and translated onto the basketball court. A learning lesson that the team will definitely build on.
Showdown in Tucson
Sunday afternoon looked to be one for the ABA history books. A rematch from the night before on short rest since it was a 1 PM game tip-off. The players were ready to redeem themselves from a disappointing road trip. The Buckets started the game in control handling the same team that muscled them out of the paint the night before. A spark from sharpshooter #3 Doniell DP Perryman who knocked down three consecutive 3’s to put the Buckets in great position early in the 2nd quarter. #24 Donte Williams played well dropping in 15 points.
Mark Simmons played his best overall game and provided a needed spark throughout the game but especially in the 2nd half. He hit some big buckets to put the Buckets in position to win at the end. Tucson had a lead by 5 down the stretch but the team could not close the talented Scorpions out. It came down to the final shot. Arizona took the ball out with 4 seconds remaining which resulted in a deflected pass ultimately falling into the scorpions point guard hands allowing him to make a last second heave from half court banking it in to tie the game at 92-92, forcing overtime.
TheABA overtime rules are a bit unorthodox. The refs explained that all ineligible players were allowed back into the game and every player who had previous fouls during the game would go back to zero fouls to begin the overtime. From there each player would be limited to two fouls until disqualification. They put 3 minutes on the clock and on we went. The Scorpions started off strong getting to the line to take the quick lead, from there they were able to control the pace and limit the Buckets to only 5 points in extra time. The score ended 99-97 with the Tucson Buckets failing to knock down the final shot as the buzzer went off.
This weekend takes the Tucson Buckets to a slow 0-3 start but after the performance on Sunday the chemistry seems to be coming together. We were unfortunately starting a season with limited exhibition games or practice reps as a full unit and I think the early performances showed our lack of experience. The players are working hard to improve every day. Great weekend of basketball. What did you think about the game? Did you know about our live stream of our away game? Leave a comment and we can talk buckets.
Live Stream of November 21,2015 Game vs AZ Scorpions
Photos from 11/22 AZ Scorpions at Tucson Buckets Final Score 99-97 OT AZ Scorpions