Austin Toros double up in a weekend series with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers
On paper, this weekend was a rematch of last season’s D-League Finals between the Austin Toros and Rio Grande Valley Vipers. In actuality, it was just two regular season games thanks to the fluid nature of the D-League from year-to-year.
Only three players and two assistant coaches remain for the Toros from last year’s team, but Austin looks to field a team just as competitive. Though last season’s Toros carried the name recognition (for the D-League, at least) of Alonzo Gee, Curtis Jerrells and Dwayne Jones, this year’s team may carry a similar amount of talent.
A wing-heavy team, the Toros play a similar four out, one in lineup. Austin improved its record to 3-1 by sweeping the weekend series with RGV with 107-91 and 116-109 wins.
“Iâ€™m very pleased with the chemistry weâ€™re trying to build,” Toros Head Coach Brad Jones said after the team’s win on Sunday night. “We still have a real long way to go as you see by some of the unforced things that we do. But weâ€™re really playing hard and trying to do the right thing.
“And hopefully weâ€™ll continue to grow and get to where we donâ€™t do the stupid stuff that causes coaches to get gray hairs and have heart attacks.”
Austin got strong performances in both games from Lewis Clinch and Lance Thomas. In the Toros’ 107-91 win on Saturday afternoon, Clinch scored 22 points off the bench and Thomas had 16 points, eight rebounds. On Sunday night, Clinch produced 26 points on 13-19 from the field and Thomas had 18 points and nine rebounds.
With the two wins this weekend, the Toros currently sit at second in the West Conference, a game behind the Reno Bighorns.
Some other Toros notes from the weekend:
- Marcus Cousin had a rough go of it on Saturday and Sunday. Cousin spent most of both games in foul trouble, totaling eight fouls in two games. He was visibly frustrated throughout, but that’ll probably happen when playing against a lottery pick in RGV’s Patrick Patterson.
- I liked a lot of what I saw this weekend from Lance Thomas, and I’m not just talking about the scoring and rebounding numbers. We should have more coming about him soon.
- First round pick Dominique Archie only scored 11 points total in the two games this weekend, but is slowly coming along. According to Coach Jones, Archie tore his ACL last season and had only started playing full, 100% contact basketball about three weeks before the D-League Draft, meaning he was pretty much off the radar when it comes to NBA Draft and NBA Summer League. “He has tremendous upside,” Coach Jones said. “It just kind of depends on how he continues to grow: one, coming off the knee injury and two, how he continues to grow in learning the pro game.” It’ll be interesting to see how Archie improves as the season progresses.
- Kevin Palmer didn’t leave me with a great first impression. I wasn’t wild about his decision making and he made one mental error that stood out. Late in Saturday’s game he lined up for a jump ball on the defensive end of the floor. Problem is, he lined up with the RGV player having the position closest to the basket. Someone corrected him before played started, and for me it was a red flag. But maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.