Day 4: Living at the D-League Showcase

7:56 p.m. -- I'm out. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog, thanks to the D-League and Stampede staff for all their help this week and the players, coaches and officials for being so cooperative.

It was an enjoyable experience.

But I can't wait to sleep in my own bed.

7:31 p.m. -- Down to the final 30 minutes for me. I feel a little bad leaving early.

A very little.

I'll take all of the basketball skills I learned through osmosis and apply it to my rec game this evening. Look out.

7:27 p.m. -- Stu Jackson, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, was here earlier in the week. And we talked officiating, particularly the role of the D-League in producing referees for the NBA.

"This is the place where we bring some of our better officiating candidates. To get a look at all of them in one place and evaluate them and the progress that they’re naming to one day becoming an NBA official," Jackson said.

I would think it's harder to evaluate officials than players or coaches. Is it?

"It’s the easiest," Jackson said. "We’re here to evaluate their play-calling ability, the judgment, but also to evaluate — which is very easy to evaluate — whether or not they can manage a game, in terms of substitutions, clock situations. Those things are easy to evaluate."

Every referee the NBA has hired the past several years has come through the D-League and the new officials are required to work in the D-League during their first year in the NBA. Last year, the NBA hired three new officials.

"We think it may be our strongest first-year class that we've ever had. In years’ past the NBA always had a reciprocal relationship with the CBA, but it wasn’t the same as the relationship with the league that we oversee. Now there is a lot more flexibility, a lot more contact," Jackson said.

Jackson said the NBA typically hires between one and five new officials each year. So many of the 20 referees brought to the Showcase could eventually make it to the NBA.

So how important is the Showcase to their future?

"We want to see how they progress over the D-League season, but for people such as myself that don’t get to see these guys on a weekly basis, it just gives me a snapshot of where they are as compared to where they were last season," Jackson said.

7:17 p.m. -- Idaho center Lance Allred took the microphone before the game to thank the fans for coming out and the support staff. You could tell he meant it. His voice cracked a few times.

7:15 p.m. -- Idaho and Fort Wayne are about to finish off the Showcase. Idaho, by the way, is sitting on its usual bench. But the Stampede is the visiting team on the scoreboard.

7:07 p.m. -- It will be weird going through a day without a soundtrack blaring.

Maybe I need to carry around a boombox like in that commercial. Or I could just use my iPod.

6:58 p.m. -- The music crew really brought it today. Jay-Z! Way better than Soulja Boy.

6:54 p.m. -- To answer a question of a loyal commenter (see the comments section for the question), the reason NCAA teams don't make the Final Four on their homecourt is ... the Final Four is not usually played at any team's home.

It used to be.

But since the mid-1980s, the event has been played in huge arenas like Indianapolis' RCA Dome or the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. No team plays its home games in such enormous places.

Now, you could say why hasn't Georgia Tech made it to a Final Four in Atlanta, even if the game isn't played on their homecourt? Or Indiana made the Final Four in Indianapolis?

The answer: It's hard to make the Final Four. No matter where it is.

6:17 p.m. -- A little Black Crowes. I like it. Music is finally picking up.

6:04 p.m. -- Idaho is expected to sit on the visitors' bench. And when Idaho has the ball, the P.A. system will be playing "De-fense, De-fense" chants.

Strange.

6:02 p.m. -- The Idaho Stampede has won 11 straight home games entering tonight's game with Fort Wayne. Due to the Showcase format, the Stampede is designated as the road team. So a win tonight would not count in the D-League record books as a 12th consecutive home win.

Why does all this matter?

At 11 straight home victories, the Stampede is tied for the league record.

5:45 p.m. -- With one game left (and I'm leaving early to play in my own basketball game), it's time for the Brian Murphy Showcase All-Stars.

Drum roll, please.

F — Kaniel Dickens, Colorado: 46 points in 2 games, 10 3-pointers.

C — Elton Brown, Colorado: back-to-back double-doubles, 38 points, 30 rebounds.

C — Lance Allred, Idaho: 24 points, 12 rebounds in 25 minutes. Allred still has a game to go tonight.

G — Maurice Baker, Dakota: Went for a Showcase-high 41 on Monday night, scored 68 points in two games, pulled down 15 rebounds Wednesday.

G — Keith Langford, Austin — Scored 43 points

5:40 p.m. -- On the other basket, Josh McRoberts and Lance Allred shoot jumpers, working their way around the court from about 15 feet.

Repetition is the name of the game for these guys. McRoberts got six shots in Tuesday night's game. He will take more than 100 in this shootaround.

5:35 p.m. -- Two hours before the Stampede's game with Fort Wayne (the Mad Ants, awesome), assistant coach Ray Lopes is working with big man Mouhamed Sene on his low post game.

Sene, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, is still a work in progress.

Now Lopes and Sene are practicing pick-and-rolls, with Sene diving to the basket and taking jump shots. Over and over again, they work on it.

4:15 p.m. -- Kaniel Dickens, who went to Idaho, led the Colorado 14ers with 21 points and 10 rebounds Thursday. Colorado whipped Tulsa 121-92.

In two games at the Showcase, Dickens scored 46 points on 17-of-30 shooting from the field. Dickens made 10-of-17 3-point attempts.

He is the first member of the Brian Murphy Showcase All-Star team. Quite an honor, I know.

4:10 p.m. -- There are four female referees in the D-League. Two of them — Penny Davis and Brenda Pantoja — participated in the Showcase.

There is currently one female referee in the NBA, Violet Palmer.

George Toliver, who refereed in the NBA for 14 years and is now the supervisor of officials for the D-League, said players have accepted the female referees as part of the league.

"I think a few years ago it was a unique situation, and players would go, “Wow, we have a woman at the game tonight.” Now, I don’t think it’s a thought in anyone’s mind when they go out to play or coach. It’s just become an innate part of the game and where we’ve evolved to," Toliver said.

"I think that’s a positive. I don’t think anybody has any feelings one way or the other now, other than to think, ‘We’ve got a crew of referees here.’

"I think before you’d get the look from the players, but now when a female comes on the court it’s not even a thought."

Like the coaches and players, the referees are being evaluated at the Showcase. After every game, a supervisor watches game film with the three referees to go over the refs' performance.

4:03 p.m. -- This has been the least competitive game of the Showcase with Colorado leading Tulsa by nearly 30 points. Give Colorado (and coach Joe Wolf) credit: The 14ers have been in Boise since last week. Colorado played Idaho on Friday, Jan. 11.

The 14ers went 2-0 during the Showcase.

3:31 p.m. -- I would have taken the 2 millionth playing of "Crank That" by Soulja Boy over "We Built This City."

I think they're messing with me now.

3:29 p.m. -- A few years ago VH1 counted down the worst songs in history. "We Built This City" by Starship was voted No. 1.

And, you guessed it, the Qwest Arena music czar decided to play it during the Showcase today. Of all the songs in the entire world, they opted to play a song voted worst song ever by VH1.

Now, of course, the damn song is stuck in my head.

3:25 p.m. -- A bit sluggish today. Everyone associated with the event seems a bit worn out.

Perhaps next year they should shorten the event to three days.

2:36 p.m. -- After scoring 37 points for Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday night, Shannon Brown was called up to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

It shows you just how close some of these players are to the NBA.

2:34 p.m. -- Kaniel Dickens is playing well, hence his long biography in the entry below.

Dickens, who had a team-high 25 points in Colorado's victory Tuesday, scored 11 points in the first quarter Thursday.

2:26 p.m. -- In the eight years since Kaniel Dickens left the University of Idaho, the man has traveled the world to play basketball. He's probably got quite a clothing collection given all the teams he's played with, from HoopsHype.com:

• Selected by the Utah Jazz as 50th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Joined the team that summer, but was waived in October.

• Selected by the Idaho Stampede as 42nd overall pick in the 2000 CBA Draft.

• Selected by the Las Vegas Silver Bandits as 21st overall pick in the 2000 IBL Draft.

• Signed with Ural Great (Russia) in 2000-01. Moved to the Harlem Globetrotters later that season.

• Selected by the Fayetteville Patriots as 8th overall pick in the 2001 NBDL Draft. Played there till November 2001.

• Signed with the Mobile Revelers of the NBDL in January 2002. Waived in March.

• Signed with Ovarense (Portugal) in September 2002. Released in October. Moved to the Idaho Stampede of the CBA. Waived in November.

• Moved to Beijing Aoshen (China) in November 2002.

• Signed with the Dakota Wizards of the CBA in October 2003.

• Signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in December 2003. Waived in January.

• Returned to the Dakota Wizards of the CBA in January 2004. Played the CBA All-Star Game in 2004. Won the Dunk Competition. Named to the All-CBA 1st Team in 2004.

• Signed with Joventut Badalona (Spain) in March 2004.

• Joined the Los Angeles Clippers in October 2004. Waived later that month.

• Returned to the Idaho Stampede of the CBA in November 2004.

• Joined the New Jersey Nets in December 2004. Waived in January. Returned to the Nets later that month. Released again after his 10-day contract expired.

• Returned again to the Idaho Stampede of the CBA in January 2005.

• Signed with the Dallas Mavericks in October 2005. Waived later that month.

• Joined the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBADL in December 2005.

• Returned to the Los Angeles Clippers in January 2006. Released later that month. Returned to the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBADL. Waived in March.

• Selected by the Colorado 14ers as 4th overall pick in the 2006 NBADL Expansion Draft.

• Signed with the Atlanta Hawks in September 2006. Waived in October.

• Dickens is playing with the Colorado 14ers now.

2:21 p.m. -- Lesson learned: Cracking on the cops leads to negative e-mails and comments.

What's next? You can't make fun of lawyers? Politicians? Boozing pop stars?

For the reason why I poked fun at Boise's finest, see below.

2:18 p.m. -- Tulsa is on the floor, so that means former Nevada teammates Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions are here.

Fazekas is on assignment from the Dallas Mavericks. Sessions is on assignment from the Milwaukee Bucks.

1:03 p.m. -- I hope Soulja Boy gets royalties every time his "Crank That" is played.

If he does, he can retire now thanks to the fine people at Qwest Arena.

12:27 p.m. - It's never too early to start scoreboard watching. OK, it probably is too early to be scoreboard watching, but here is goes.

Idaho (15-5) has 30 games remaining in its regular season. But the Stampede are already keeping tabs on what Los Angeles (14-4) and Utah (11-8) are doing.

12:11 p.m. -- One of the coolest stories I've found at the D-League Showcase is that of Will Robinson, an 80-year-old former high school teacher and coach.

Robinson, who lives in Rapid City, South Dakota, became a basketball traveler when the CBA put a team in Rapid City. Eric Musselman was the coach at the time. Robinson quickly became a fan.

When Duane Ticknor became the coach in Dakota and Idaho Stampede coach Bryan Gates was his assistant, Robinson traveled on the team bus for a summer.

"He went with us everywhere on the bus. We had a bed on the bus. It was a complete bus league. Duane and I would take turns sleeping and I’d play cribbage with Will and Duane would play pinochle. When Duane would go to bed and I’d wake up and we’d play cribbage," Gates said.

Robinson has list of all the cities that he has seen a professional basketball game in on his computer. He wrote a list while at the Showcase. The list included 49 cities and we're not talking Los Angeles and Seattle.

No, it's Billings and Casper and Rockford.

Through his travels, Robinson has become friendly with a number of the coaches. So last week, he called Gates and told him he was making the trip to Boise. Robinson is staying with Gates and wife, Robin.

"He's putting up with me," said Robinson, who has been courtside for just about every game of the Showcase.

11:45 p.m. -- In case you want the entire "Living at the D-League Showcase" experience:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

D-League blogs

11:39 a.m. -- Looking forward to going outside. Haven't left the building since Monday morning. It'll be nice to breathe some fresh air.

10:58 a.m. -- Lot of NBA people are looking forward to this game. Los Angeles (14-4) and Austin (14-5) are two of the best teams in the league.

As I wrote about yesterday, these two teams are the only ones owned by NBA franchises. San Antonio owns Austin. The Lakers own L.A., which plays its games before Laker games at the Staples Center.

10:51 a.m. -- Will make an appearance on NBA TV during the first quarter of the Austin-L.A. game, which is set to begin at 11 a.m.

They're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for guests.

10:39 a.m. -- Mike Born, Portland's director of NBA scouting, said Taurean Green had a great time during his four-game stint with Idaho earlier this season.

"When we send guys down, it's about getting those guys to play, but we want them to have a good experience. Taurean had a really good time," Born said.

The relationship between NBA team and D-League affiliate is a unique one. So it's good for the Stampede if the assigned NBA players enjoy their experience.

And it's a credit to the Stampede organization.

10:31 a.m. -- As promised in yesterday's blog, here's a recap of my conversation with Portland's director of NBA scouting, Mike Born.

Born is in is fourth year with Portland, his first as the director of NBA scouting. He spent his first three years as a college scout. Throughout his time in Portland, Born has scouted the minor leagues. With 15 guaranteed contracts, the Blazers are not looking to add someone from the D-League this year. But that doesn't mean Born isn't keeping his eyes open.

On what he's looking for:

"As far as watching players, you can break them into affiliated and non-affiliated guys. Guys like JamesOn Curry, (Mouhamed) Sene, (Alando) Tucker, you follow those guys just to watch their progress. And then the rest of the guys we’re just keeping an eye on them, an eye on them for progress. Are they guys that might play for us in Summer League? It’s a terrific event, I love coming here. I love to see a lot of guys in a four-day span and not having to travel all over the world."

On Josh McRoberts, who was assigned from Portland to the Idaho Stampede last week:

"When he’s in the game, I’m watching what he’s doing on both ends of the floor to be able to help him. Certain things that I saw that he did in the game, I think he can still do in the flow of the game and in the context of what their team is still trying to do.

"When they run a pick and roll, he’ll be on the short corner of the baseline. Instead of standing there the whole time, I said, if I’m the defender and he looks, there’s nothing wrong with you trying to step over him or step under him for a quick flash. You can do that and if you don’t get it, you can step back out out and you're not going to disrupt the play. But it’s a way to be assertive and be aggressive in the flow of what they’re doing.

"... Josh is going to be a complementary piece. That’s what he’s most successful at. That’s what we like about him. He’s not going to be a guy for us that we’re going to throw him the ball on the block a bunch or run a bunch of pick-and-pop plays. He’s going to be a guy that defends. We want him to rebound, run the floor, play with a lot of energy. He’s probably going to be a bench guy for us.

"We're working on his shooting so he can stick an open shot and finish plays around the rim. We want to see him play like that here, too. ... We’d rather not see Josh go 0-for-6, but if he’s 3-for-6, that’s OK. We just want to make sure he’s successful rebounding. He’s obviously a good passer. Those are the things we feel can complement our team. Put him out there, put him with (Greg) Oden or with LaMarcus (Aldridge) and he can be a fit and a piece with those guys."

On Idaho center Lance Allred:

"In talking to some of the people here, NBA scouts, he seemed better than they thought he was going to be. He probably had as efficient a game as anybody in the Showcase. The minutes he had, the production, the field goal percentage, the rebounding. He’s a good team guy, he plays hard and he’s a big. Big guys are hard to find. There’s definitely a shot for him."

9:54 a.m. -- Just kidding, Boise PD.

9:50 a.m. -- Iowa Energy guard JamesOn Curry was arrested in Downtown Boise early Thursday morning.

I just want to know how the cop ran him down. Should we check the donuts at DK for performance-enhancing drugs? Curry has an NBA contract and got caught from behind by a police officer. No wonder he's in the D-League.

dk donuts

If those donuts are performance enhanced, it looks like you would be playing for the Blazers or Sonics with that physique of yours...What a specimen.

music

They should get the guy for the steelheads to replace this joker on music.

6:02 and Why?

For the same reason nobody usually wins an NCAA Final Four or Championship in their home arena...

what a rube

It is hard to believe that make a living for this drivel. You have to be one of the most boring, uninteresting and uncreative people to have ever pecked away at a keyboard. No wonder Prater hired you, by way of comparison, you make him look brilliant.

I suppose that leaves you...

yeah, it does leave.

goodbye, mister left

don't forget listerine

Forget the playas and the Jalepeno Vicks Vap-O-Rub they used...

I enjoyed the entire thing. It was pretty informative and it sounded pretty comprehensive and authoritative. Thanks for the answer too.

FO

I'd really like to see a day

I'd really like to see a day in an A league. There are a lot of interesting things happening there. The egos are greater so people must eat each other up alive...
---
seo firm

The ego types are the PROBLEMS not the norm..

There us no ME in basketball.

It's five guys dribbling in their shorts and trying to score...

Like a pack of rowdy senior citizens.