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Salt Lake City Stars drop season opener to Sioux Falls Skyforce

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Justin Wright-Foreman and William Howard combined for 33 points.

Salt Lake City vs Sioux Falls Skyforce Photo by Dave Eggen/NBAE via Getty Images

The Salt Lake City Stars fell to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in their season opener in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Justin Wright-Foreman—who is on a two way contract with the Utah Jazz—led all scorers for the Stars with 17 points. He also added 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 block. The Stars fell behind early in the 1st quarter 30-18, but surged back in the second and third quarters, outscoring the Skyforce 61-42. Unfortunately, the offense ran cold in the fourth quarter—I blame it on me updating the SLC Dunk Twitch profile midgame, that’s bad form.

Daryl Macon led all Skyforce scorers and almost got the triple double with 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Macon was undrafted and played with the Dallas Mavericks G-League affiliate, Texas Legends, last season. The Miami Heat signed him to an Exhibition 10 for training camp then converted him over to a two way contract. The Heat have to be feeling good about that decision after Macon’s first game. He had a big 4th quarter, going 3 for 6 from the field with two of them coming from deep. However, he did have 8 turnovers.

While Miye Oni struggled from the field, he was 1-7 with 5 points, he was a beast defensively. It’s like watching Royce O’Neale in embryo. He had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals and just smothered Macon and Mulder. Part of why they had a combined 10 turnovers was his defense and also Wright-Foreman’s defense.

The Stars entered the fourth quarter with a 79-72 lead. Then SLC went cold. Luckily, they were able to hold the Skyforce to the same shooting percentage. The Stars shot 36.8% from the field while the Skyforce shot 38.9% from the field. Both teams had the same amount of field goals in the 4th quarter. So what happened?

Free throws.

Thing to remember is in the G-League this season, free throws count as the full points unless the foul coincided with a made shot (an And-1). In the final two minutes of the 4th quarter and in overtime, free throws are back to the old way of 1 point for one shot. So in the fourth quarter, the Skyforce went to the line 4 times for free throws that counted for two points each and 5 times for a combined 11 free throws that counted for one point each. They were 3 of 4 for free throws counted for two points each, and 10 of 11 for free throws that counted for one point each. That’s 16 points.

The Stars? They were 1 of 3 for free throws that counted for one point and and 1 of 3 on free throws for 2 points or more. The Stars tendency to foul and inability to hit shots in the fourth quarter cost them the game. The Skyforce went to the basket, pounded the offensive glass, and force the officials to make a call. That physicality pushed the Stars out of the game in the fourth quarter.

Juwan Morgan was doing a good job defensively, but unfortunately he fouled out in the fourth. That forced Coach Schiller to go to Isaac Haas, Salt Lake City’s resident Ent. Isaac Haas—who had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks—struggled in those final minutes in the pick and roll. He was slow switching onto the ball handler and was getting beat to the rim. That allowed the Skyforce to scrape and claw their way back into the game and into the lead at the free throw line.

The Salt Lake City Stars are starting their season with an influx of talent due to the Utah Jazz’s run of second rounders in the 2019 NBA Draft. While they have a lot of NBA talent this season, they also have a lot of raw NBA talent. Jarrell Brantley who showed flashes of modern NBA four potential also showed why he was so raw only play or two after. One in particular is he played great defense and secured the rebound, only to play the fast break wrong and get tunnel vision while driving the paint. He has the tools, but the finesse and control are not there yet. That didn’t stop him from having 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Likewise, the Frenchman William Howard had 16 points on 5 of 13 shooting with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Howard had been signed to a three year nonguaranteed by Utah—mostly incentive to stay in the states and not go back to Europe.

They all have flashes and it’ll be fun to see this group grow and develop. There’s a lot of raw talent on this Stars team, more than most years, but it will remain to be seen if that translates into wins this season for the Stars. Coach Martin Schiller must be excited about the potential this new group has. They can be a force, if they develop faster than anticipated.

Notes

It’s fun to watch these games on Twitch. I recommend it. Secretly I hope the Utah Jazz do something radical when they can change their streaming rights and move them to Amazon’s Twitch service.

Martin Schiller is really close to Martin Schindler. At least I found that out when I was googling information. Martin Schiller is a head coach for the Salt Lake City Stars. Martin Schindler is this guy. I exhort you to click on the name to find out.

Next Stars game takes place Wednesday, November 13th against the Iowa Wolves in Des Moines, Iowa at 6:00PM MT.