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