By: Law Murray
I believe in threes. Not just shooting them (…if you can actually make them): this is the third week of the season at the Drew League. A lot of the anticipation for this season so far has come from what went down last year. But once is a chance, twice is coincidence, and three times is a pattern. This is the week where teams will start to make a definition for themselves for the 2015 season. And for players not cutting it, there’s always the possibility that some impatient coach goes for the hook. One, two, three strikes, and you’re out:
- Hank’s Panthers vs. Problems (Sat. May 30, 10am): Ever heard Lil Scrappy first thing in the morning? The Panthers are playing in the Breakfast Club due to their 0-2 record, but point guard Kevin Houston has been outstanding to start the season. He’s scored 20+ in both games for Hank’s Panthers, hitting five threes last week. But the competition doesn’t ease up for Hank’s Panthers – 2014 MVP Money Mike Efevberha must be licking his chops after Hank’s Panthers gave up 45 points to M.H.P.’s Victor Rudd in Week 2.
- #Juglife vs. BB4L (Sat. May 30, 11:15am): BB4L isn’t going to struggle to score, with Baron Davis at the controls and Demetrius Walker putting up back-to-back 20-point games. But Malcolm Thomas walked all over them with 34 points and 17 rebounds, and BB4L gave up more offensive rebounds against Citi Team Blazers (24) than they had total rebounds (22). That’s inexcusable – perhaps #Juglife can get their first win of the season if someone like Darnell Shumpert has a big game in the paint.
- Tradition vs. I Can All-Stars (Sat. May 30, 12:30pm): I Can All-Stars dropped their season opener last week vs. Problems despite 33 points from “The Body Snatcher” Vince Camper and a 13-point halftime lead. But while I Can All-Stars disappeared down the stretch, Tradition didn’t even show up last week – only five players suited up in their Week 2 loss to Legacy. That won’t cut it if Tradition wants to stay above .500.
- Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars vs. M.H.P. (Sat. May 30, 2pm): This is the Commissioner’s pick for Game of the Week. It’s gonna be a doozy. M.H.P. made their debut last week in the last game Saturday night vs. Hank’s Panthers. Victor Rudd destroyed them for 45 points … and he still didn’t get Player of the Week. So yeah, he has something to prove. Houdini’s All-Stars, the defending champions, are 2-0. But they lost Tim “BUGATTI” Johnson to a brutal lower leg injury. Houdini’s All-Stars embarrassed M.H.P. in the first round of the playoffs last year, so there’s a lot going on in this marquee matchup.
- LA LOOP vs. Jaguars (Sat. May 30, 3:15pm): LA LOOP runs a nice offense that will allow more than a few players to score in double figures. They’re 0-2 because they haven’t been able to stop perimeter-based top options from going off. Steve Alford has been the closest thing to a go-to guy for the 2-0 Jaguars, though the Jaguars don’t really operate to get one player significantly more shots than the others.
- LAUNFD vs. ICEO (Sat. May 30, 4:30pm): LAUNFD bounced back nicely in Week 2, getting a tough 71-68 win vs. Hank’s Bulldogs behind a double-double from forward Brandon Bowman (14 and 14) and some big shots from guard Kevin Jackson. ICEO is off to a 2-0 start, bolstered by what may be the best southpaw duo in basketball in Charles Hinkle and A.J. Gasporra. Those two have combined for 50+ combined points each of the first two weeks.
- NWA vs. Hank’s New Image (Sat. May 30, 6pm): NWA head coach Keion Kindred has his team at 2-0, though consistency has been fleeting. Coach readily admits that this isn’t the NWA team of last year that ended up being the last team to lose a game in the regular season. Hank’s New Image is a tough team, but they have some holes as well. New Image doesn’t really have the size to match up with NWA’s Chuck Garcia, but will Garcia exploit that surface advantage?
- Hard Times vs. Reapers (Sun. May 31, 10am): Hard Times found a way to get a win last week against last year’s runner up C.O.A. without guard Nick Porter, while Reapers looked impressive against Hank’s United Ballers to get their first Drew League win. Reapers forward Renaldo Woolridge has the kind of size at 6’9” that could give Hard Times a hard time. No pun intended.
- The Clozers vs. Hank’s United Ballers (Sun. May 31, 11:15am): This may be the rare game that features the play of both team’s big men. The Clozers have a frontcourt of the future with Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright, while United Ballers feature veterans like Luke Nevill and David Vik. Of course, both of these teams are winless, so the winner may come down to which team gets the needed improved play from the backcourt.
- C.A.B.C. vs. Salvatori’s Spirit (Sun. May 31, 12:30pm): Salvatori’s Spirit, led by 2013 title game hero Frank Robinson, gave the Jaguars a scare in their Drew League debut before going down in double overtime. C.A.B.C. forward Will Davis has some impressive bounce, and the addition of young point guard Terrence Phillips allowed Davis to get some easy buckets simply by running the floor last week. Expect a fast-paced game here.
- Salvatori’s No Shnacks vs. Sky Ryse (Sun. May 31, 2pm): No Shnacks hasn’t been able to put a full game together, and they sit at 0-2. Sky Ryse has similarly been uneven with their play, yet they’re 2-0. Expect No Shnacks to play hard, and if Sky Ryse messes around and lets them hand in the 4th quarter, they’ll have to deal with one of the best 4th quarter performers in the league in point guard Sango Niang. Sky Ryse has been able to benefit from the balanced high-end game of guard Donovan Morris.
- Pandas vs. Salvatori’s Nova Stars (Sun. May 31, 3:15pm): The 2-0 Nova Stars were expecting to play BB4L in this spot, but guess who the Pandas are getting off the plane? None other than The Panda’s Friend himself, Metta World Peace! The Pandas need him too, as they were unimpressive in their Drew League debut last week. But look for World Peace and his brother Daniel Artest (6’6”, 290 pounds) to attempt to throw their weight around a Nova Stars squad that is carrying themselves like a contender.
- C.O.A. vs. Legacy (Sun. May 31, 4:30pm): Legacy won their first Drew League game of the season last week, and they put on a show doing it. Former Globetrotters draft pick Corey Law had consecutive highlight dunks himself, and in general, Legacy is going to try and wring teams dry by running every chance they get. Of all the teams that need to look alive in Week 3, C.O.A. may be at the top of the list. They only managed 56 points last week, as they looked lost all afternoon without their trademark size advantage from last season.
- Citi Team Blazers vs. Hank’s Bulldogs (Sun. May 31, 6pm): Desperate isn’t a word any Drew League team is going to use in May. That said, the 0-2 Bulldogs have lost to two talented teams by a combined seven points, which is a debit as much as it may be a credit. Simply put, the Bulldogs have to play better in the fourth quarter, a period where they have usually come undone. The Blazers are 2-0 and feature the second player to ever get back-to-back Player of the Week awards in Malcolm Thomas. The first? Bulldogs guard Frank “Nitty” Session, who achieved that feat last summer.
Law Murray is in his fifth year in Los Angeles via Philadelphia. He is in his second season at the Drew, and has made stops at the NFL Network, Fox Sports, and Marketplace, in addition to contributing to ESPN TrueHoop’s ClipperBlog since 2014. Law has also served two years in City Year and covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia. He graduated from California University of PA in 2009 with a B.A. in communication studies, and from University of Southern California in 2014 with a M.A. in journalism. He specializes in breaking down teams and players on a variety of media platforms.