Austin Toros Season Preview
Undefeated Toros begin home schedule
By Will Schmidt,
12:09PM, Fri. Dec. 2, 2011
"It's always smart to wait until they play their first game before previewing the new season for any truly exciting sports team." – Dori Fiscopherson, my mentor and hero
The Austin Toros kicked off the new season with a magnificent triumph over the upstate Texas Legends 101-96 last Saturday night on the road in Frisco, Texas. With the win, Austin kicks off the new season with an undefeated 1-0 record. An undefeated season has never occurred in the D-League, so the Toros are in pretty uncharted territory as they continue their march to perfection.
One of the most-talked-about moves of the off-season occurred when the Toros traded their first-round draft pick to the Legends for their prolific combo-guard Justin Dentmon. Mr. Dentmon, playing his first game in Toro black and silver, back in the building he had previously called home, did not disappoint his new Austin family and friends, shoving the ball into the hoop with moxy, destroying Texas Legend spirit and chewing bubblegum (except he was all out of bubblegum).
Dentmon, an early nominee for Toros' MVP, finished the game with 29 points and seven assists. Other players also played hard, but Dentmon deserves most of the attention, especially after nailing five 3-pointers. He was brought to Austin to do one thing, and that's to win games, and in the extremely early phase of the season, Mr. Dentmon did not disappoint.
So what's next? The home opener! December 2 (tonight!) just up the road at the Cedar Park Center.
This season is going to be fun. That's a real-deal forecast that you can take to the bank vault and put away for safe keeping – that is if they'll let you back there. Can Justin Dentmon continue his MVP-like season? Will Leo Lyons be healthy enough to play? Lyons has been rehabbing an injured foot/ankle, and last time I saw him, he had a boot on his foot (the medical kind).
With Dentmon running the show, usual Toro point guard, Carldell Johnson became the shooting guard, and it will prove interesting to see how this backcourt dynamic will play out as the season progresses. Johnson's long hair could be seen cutting through the opposition's teeth, dashing and twirling, complementing Dentmon's wayward production with 25 points of his own. A solid game for the Toros' elder statesman. Also scoring 25 points was Lance Thomas, the former Duke Blue Devil and current all-around nice dude.
So please forgive my childlike excitement, but the Austin Toros have all the pieces! Their current roster depth is one that they've never quite had before. With newly acquired Justin Dentmon, and with the good old guys Johnson, Thomas, and Lyons (whose return from injury we highly anticipate, for it will give the Toros another big-time playmaker to throw the rock to) I am not overstepping my professionalism by proclaiming loudly to the basketball fans of Texas and beyond that the Austin Toros are poised for great things! The Toros are the championship contenders from the great state of Texas (the Legends just have to accept that they are second fiddle on a great bluegrass band metaphor about minor-league basketball).
So join me this Friday night for the home opener of the Austin Toros. They'll be facing a team in the Tulsa 66ers that refuse to go to bed early. It should be a real firecracker of a basketball game. One that will undoubtedly make or break the Toros' chances at a perfect season. I'll be there, in my usual disguise, and I hope to see all of you there too.
Vs. Tulsa: Fri., Dec. 2, 8pm; Wed., Dec. 7, 7:30pm. Cedar Park Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park, 512/600-5000. $8-99 plus fees.