I just wanted to give a big thank you to the Northern Arizona Suns and their staff for being kind enough to give me full media access throughout the night. I had a ton of fun covering this one and I’ll do my best to get out to as many of these games as I can in the future.
Final score: NAZ Suns 107, Iowa Wolves 132.
Team shooting splits:
- FG (39-89) 43.8%
- FT (9/20) 45%
- 3PFG (13/36) 36.1%
Slow starts to each half including a monstrous third quarter from the Iowa Wolves were ultimately the reasons the Northern Arizona Suns were handled tonight. It’s always tough creating a game-plan when implementing new guys (Jerome) and finding a groove, so their slows starts to each half were understandable. They did have a couple nice stretches where they looked much more balanced and composed, but the damage was already done at that point. Free throw shooting was also a major concern including missing (two) 3-point free throw attempts, while going 9-for-20 overall from the charity stripe, leaving a ton of points on the board.
The Wolves duo of Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell were dominant and combined for 47 points on a super efficient 14-for-22 shooting. I believe both of those guys will be up playing for the Timberwolves sooner than later, as it’s a matter of “when” not “if” with those two guys. The Wolves have a very deep team and their offense just wasn’t missing while the Suns hit a couple cold stretches offensively, which was ultimately the difference.
There were some bright spots tonight for sure and I will dive into those along with some scouting reports and quotes from some players.
Lines of the night:
- Jalen Lecque- 25 PTS, 8 REB, 4 STL, 2 AST, 3 TO, 2/4 3PFG.
- Anthony Lawrence II- 16 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 4/6 3PFG.
- Ty Jerome- 9 PTS, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 REB, 3/8 FG, 13 minutes.
- Jared Harper- 14 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB, 2/7 3PFG.
- Daxter Miles Jr.- 12 PTS, 3 AST, 1 REB, 2/4 3PFG.
Ty Jerome’s debut.
Jerome’s first stint was just under six minutes long in the first quarter and he was looking to find his rhythm during the team’s cold start. He didn’t force or rush anything and made smart decisions despite the jumper not falling the first few minutes. While he wasn’t entirely impressive for those first six minutes he looked comfortable out there.
His second stint he started playing a little more aggressively and looked to attack off the dribble. His size and touch are as advertised. Smaller defenders don’t stand a chance when he has them on his hip on the drive. He’s sneaky elusive and can rock defenders to sleep in what looks like slow motion at times because it’s so smooth. I think the Suns fans are going to love his shooting stroke and elite touch off the dribble combined with his excellent court vision and awareness. Jerome also had a few potential assists that were misses off nice passes, so the one assist is a little misleading in that sense. He did get guys involved, shots just weren’t falling.
Q&A with Ty Jerome
Q: How’d you feel tonight overall from a conditioning standpoint?
A: “I feel good. First time going up and down in five weeks, my conditioning is not going to be 100 percent, but it just felt good to get out there, happy to be out there. Ankle didn’t bother me at all so that was a great sign, just getting back in my rhythm back. I felt great tonight and I’m really grateful they let me come out here and play with them because I might’ve messed up some guys’ rhythms so I’m just really thankful to the whole staff for letting me play.”
Q: What was your biggest goal or what you wanted to take away most from tonight?
A: “Just get up and down and trust my ankle. Being able to trust my ankle, make cuts, defend and come off actions and be able to guard actions and it went well. My conditioning is going to keep getting better every day and my ankle felt great.”
Q: You’ve played on big stages in Virginia as a national champion, but were there any nerves tonight in your professional debut in a game that counts?
A: “Honestly, I always get nervous before I play basketball but they’re good nerves. I try to use them well and I like getting nerves, it adds to the excitement. Overall tonight I’d say I just had my normal nerves.”
Ty’s message for Suns fans- “I’m just going to go out there when my number is called and try to be ready and play my game and help the team.”
Jalen Lecque Scouting Report
A lot stood out to me while watching Lecque tonight. He really “pops” when you see him up close in-person. The way he moves is just different. The footwork and ability to shift on the dime combined with his explosiveness is incredible. He has great balance while he’s making euro-steps or drives to the lane which essentially gets him wherever he wants on the court at any time. He missed a couple easy buckets early on but they came off pro moves right near the rim. I’m confident he’ll finish those more frequently as he progresses. He moves like a nimble bulldozer through traffic.
Defensively he was fundamentally sound. Always in the right spot when he’s involved in the play whether it’s on the ball or in a pick and roll. Played the passing lanes well getting four steals and a few deflections in addition to that. His off-ball rotations have improved noticeably and you can tell he’s been putting the effort in to understand rotations and team-defense at a higher level.
Played off the ball a lot offensively, but looked comfortable in the half-court. Really took over in the 2nd half. You can tell he’s been working on his jumper, it’s looked as consistent as I’ve ever seen it, especially in warmups.
Q&A with Jalen Lecque
Q: What do you think has been the biggest adjustment for you playing against professionals every night?
A: “Just the pace of the game, knowing how to pace myself and my stamina. Learning how to do different things both on and off the ball. My biggest thing I’ve been trying to stress is my defense, being in the helping gap. I’m not so much worried about my on-ball defense but I’m focused on getting better off the ball any way I can. I’ve really been working on that.”
Q: Other than your defense, is there are a certain area you’ve really worked on this offseason that you’re trying to show out here while you’re in the G-League?
A: “Yeah, my shot. I’ve really worked on my shot, taken a lot of time studying film. I’m shooting comfortably and have made some adjustments that I’m now more comfortable with so now I just gotta keep on shooting.”
Q: Suns twitter is dying to know, are you trying to get in the dunk contest? Should we start that campaign for you right now on twitter?
A: “Yeah, yeah. Definitely. That’d be really dope, especially in my first year but this year I’m just focusing on developing and trying to make it up to the NBA.”
Spoiler alert: it looks like he’s been called up according to Gerald Bourguet.
Some light windmill action below.
Tomorrow I’ll have a feature up with coach Bret Burchard and Anthony Lawrence II answering some questions to add on to this. I hope you all enjoyed my coverage and I look forward to adding more throughout the year.
Make sure you follow @NAZSuns on twitter for more updates.