With their best player now part of the Lake Show, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers move on to the semifinal round of the NBA Development League series wondering if they can fill his spot.
They got a taste of what life will be like without point guard Andrew Goudelock on Saturday when the held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Maine Red Claws to sweep their first-round playoff series.
Earlier that day, Goudelock had reached an agreement to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving the Vipers to fend for themselves the rest of the way this season without their leading scorers and league MVP candidate. Goudelock, who was acquired via trade from Sioux Falls early in the season, averaged 21.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds in 52 games.
“He was definitely a big part of the team,” said forward Glen Rice Jr., now the team’s leading scorer with a 13.0-point average. “But, we have other talented guys, and we can step up as a team with guys who can fill his role. It was such a big role. I’m very confident that we will be able to do that.”
Life goes on for the Vipers tonight when they open at best-of-3 series at the Tulsa 66ers. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. Sunday at Hidalgo’s State Farm Arena. If a third game is necessary, it will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hidalgo.
“He was our captain and our leading scorer,” Vipers forward Tyler Honeycutt said of Goudelock. “We just have to make up for his absence. The guys have got to be ready to step up.”
Yes, but can they?
“Definitely,” Honeycutt said. “I think we’ve got the best all around team in the league.”
That depth will be put to the test against the 66ers, who have received assigned players from the Oklahoma Thunder with regularity. The Thunder has the most D-League assignments in the NBA this season. As of Thursday afternoon, the Thunder had not assigned any players to the 66ers. However, these assignments are often announced on game days. Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and DeAndre Liggins — Thunder players who played with the 66ers for their first-round series against the Canton Charge — were recalled Monday.
The only Houston Rockets assignee the Vipers have with them is center Tim Ohlbrecht, who played with the Vipers for most of the season before moving up in February. Ohlbrecht hasn’t played much with the Rockets, and after that he was assigned to the Vipers for the playoffs. Ohlbrecht is averaging 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 18.5 minutes in the playoffs. He likely won’t see another assignment.
That leaves Rice (27.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in 40.0 minutes during the playoffs), Kennedy (19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds) to lead the offense. The Vipers also acquired guard Christian Polk this week to fill Goudelock’s roster spot. The University of Texas-El Paso product averaged 9.4 points in 32 games for the Springfield Armor this season.
“Good thing about this team is there is a lot of talent,” Kennedy said. “Any night anyone can score the ball. That’s been the best thing about this team all season. We are definitely going to miss (Goudelock). Drew’s an incredible scorer, but I feel like we’ve got enough talent on the team to fill his spot.”
David Hinojosa covers the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4442, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter: @hinojosa_david
UTPA track & field teams safe after bomb threat
EL SERENO, California — The University of Texas-Pan American Broncs men’s and women’s outdoor track & field teams are back safely at their hotel after evacuating Jesse Owens Track and North Field after a bomb threat caused the entire Cal State University, Los Angeles campus to close at approximately 2 p.m. (CT), cancelling the CSULA Twilight Open.
The Broncs were able to compete in the women’s hammer throw before the evacuation. Official results are currently not available. Should they become available, they will be posted at UTPABroncs.com.
About 25 miles east in Walnut, senior Judith Chumba competed in the 1,500-meter run at the 55th Annual Mt. SAC Relays.
She finished 10th out of 18 runners in her section, good for 113th overall out of 171 runners, with a season-best time of 4:38.69.
The Broncs continue to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays on Friday and potentially Saturday while also competing at the Long Beach State Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
-- UTPA Services
WhiteWings release schedule
The Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings announced the United League has released their schedule for the 2013 season.
Rio Grande Valley will play a 78-game season, beginning with the home opener on the traditional May 23 date against Doc Edwards’ San Angelo Colts.
In all, the WhiteWings will play 52 home games at Harlingen Field, including their July 4 game against the Texas Thunder, who will be managed by former Rio Grande Valley skipper Eddie Dennis.
The Thunder, who will play a schedule of road games, are a new team in the United League along with the Alexandria (La.) Aces. The Colts, Fort Worth Cats and defending league champion Edinburg Roadrunners return along with the WhiteWings.
The season will end Aug. 14, with the playoffs scheduled to last into the following week. All games are currently scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (CT) and can be heard on whitewingsbaseball.net.
"The WhiteWings this season have quite a few surprises for the fans this season including the Fourth of July Spectacular along with many other fun times to be had at the ballpark with a new and fresh look,” team general manager Doug Robinson said.
New faces for the WhiteWings this season include fireballing right-hander and Harlingen South grad Danny Gidora; outfielder Albert Carpen, who boasted the second highest batting average in NCAA Division I in 2012, when he hit .426 for Chicago State; catcher-infielder Dave Angle, a slugger who also is the nephew of former Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler Kurt Angle; and veteran Japanese infielder Keigo Miyagi.
Managing the WhiteWings will be 27-year-old Chris Paterson, who was named Continental League Manager of the Year in 2010 and Pecos League Manager of the Year the following season when he led the Roswell Invaders to the league championship.
WhiteWings season and individual tickets are on sale at Harlingen Field. For information, call (956) 423-WING.
-- WhiteWings Services