Utah Flash 101, Springfield Armor 89

The old television show, Hee Haw, used to have a popular sketch called “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me.” Basically, 4 cast members dressed as hill billies would sit around singing humorous tales of how unlucky they were. One line from the chorus went, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

The poor Springfield Armor may be tempted to take that song up as their theme song for this season.

With just 6 wins and 31 losses, the Armor certainly could use a break…

And D-League officials Brett Nansel, Marcus Clayton and Jaime Morales seemed to think so as well.

After the Armor’s leading scorer, Justin Hawkins, left the game for good after landing hard on his back 4:25 minutes into the game, with Springfield down 10-5, the hard luck Armor seemed to be in for a long night on the road against the Utah Flash. The Armor were in the game though, thanks in no small part to friendly officiating which gave the visiting Springfield Armor a 300 percent free throw advantage over the Utah Flash playing at home.

Normally I’d say a team with that big of an advantage at the free throw line was the more aggressive team and was taking the ball to the rim more, while the other team was settling for jump shots, but statistically that is just not the case.

Springfield Armor Utah Flash
Layups 26 31
Jump shots 28 19
3-point attempts 11 20
Free throw attempts 36 12

40% of the Springfield Armor’s shot attempts were inside. 44% of the Utah Flash’s shot attempts were inside.

In short, the Springfield Armor was settling for jumpshots more, while Utah Flash were the more aggressive inside, and they were playing at home, yet the Armor got to the free throw line 3 times as many times as the Flash. That’s not a small disparity, even if the Flash were hacking and the Armor was not, which was not the case if you watched the game, or even if you look at the box score where you see the Flash were just plus 5 in personal fouls.

How could the Armor have so many more free throws? I can’t explain that, but I have a few theories.

First, this is the same reffing crew that officiated in Orem, Utah the night before and the crowd gave them a pretty hard time in that loss, so maybe this returning officiating crew came into this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.

Second, as I inferred before, I think they just felt badly for the poor Armor. I must admit I’ve been sympathetic as an official myself to teams, but that was when they were getting blown out. I would never give a sympathetic whistle to a team to help them win a game.

Third, the D-League blog site, Ridiculous Upside, has been giving d-league officials a hard time about how many free throws the Flash got in a recent game. This could have been a reaction to something like that. (BTW, if you like D-League basketball, you HAVE to check out rediculousupside.com.)

Frankly, all three reasons would be, well, ridiculous. Just do your job and call the game. Besides, if you want to make people happy that’s the best way to do it, then if someone feels like they got short changed, at least an analyst could look the game over and explain the free throws.

Anyway, Dee Brown’s guys seem like a good group of guys. There was no dirty play on their part, just lots of hustle and hard work.

I was disappointed that the Utah Flash could not out rebound the undermanned Armor. The Armor were plus 6 in rebounds, which is indicative of their game long hustle to stay in the game.

I was particularly impressed with Kyle McAlarney. He was not only effective on the offensive side of the ball (scoring 14 points on 6 of 11 shots, 2 of 3 from downtown), but I thought Kyle really bothered Flash guard Kevin Kruger. Kyle forced Kevin to stay out further on the court, forcing precious seconds off the Flash’s shot clock for their offense to execute.

I was also impressed with Donte Milligan. He wasn’t the biggest man on the court, but his 12 rebounds led both teams.

As for the Flash, Orien Greene had a great game, including 20 points on 8 of 17 shooting, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. And on defense, Orien was his usual disruptive self.

I’m sure Flash Coach Brad Jones has a lot of things in mind he’d like to improve about his team as they make this push for the playoffs. For me, I think two improvements would do more to help the Flash than a dozen lesser improvements, and those two biggies are: rebounding and turnovers.

If the Flash could control the boards better, and take care of the ball better, they’d limit opponents shot attempts while increasing their own. In other words, those two improvements would help the Flash both offensively and defensively.

Still, I really enjoy watching the Utah Flash play.

Finally, big kudos to the Utah Flash players and coaching staff for their composure Saturday night. There was PLENTY for them to be frustrated about in terms of officiating, yet they played through it and didn’t get any technical fouls.

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