Jian

Jian

Friday, 20 November 2020 17:48

London Starts Season

London is 7-3 after the first 10 games of the season. The Knights went into the offseason with many questions. The main one being if the team could find more scorers to compliment Jose Owens. That seems to be addressed. Its still too early to tell definitively but the team is averaging 108 points per game, 4th best in the league. While the offense seems to be humming, the defense has fallen and allowing 104 points, 18th in the league.
 
“We are still refining our lineup. The defense will improve as the season continues. We have great individual defenders but with so many new faces it’s going to take time to play as a team.” said Coach Bennett
 
London signed Jose McCrea, Felton Lamontagne and drafted Perry McCammon. Brendon Humby and Coy Haile were signed late last season and played in only a handful of games. Three new faces entered the starting lineup with Humby and Owens manning the post and Lamontagne taking over the starting shooting guard position. Fredrick Gerard and Evaristo Gonzalez return at small forward and point guard. It’s the first time that Jean Larry and Val Crumley are not in the starting lineup to begin the season. At 34-year-old, it should be no surprise that the Knights are slowly fading out Crumley. The future Hall of Famer is entering the twilight of his career and has become more of a player/coach and mentor for the younger players on the team.
 
“Don’t put me to bed yet. I still have gas left in the tank. When the time comes, I will be ready. Until then I’m happy letting younger legs grind out the season.” said Crumley
 
Larry’s move to the bench might be temporary as the coaching staff try out new lineups. He was effective both as a starter and in reserve last season. According to Coach Bennett the move was strictly to get more scoring into the first unit. Larry will continue to get his minutes even off the bench.
 
“Starter. Reserve. All the same to me. Whatever we need to win.” said Larry
 
Whatever we need indeed. The Knights begin this campaign with the goal of getting Val and Larry their fourth ring.

 

Monday, 28 September 2020 11:48

London Ends Season

London once again found themselves a victim of early playoff exit. The Knights tied for the second best record in the league but was swept in the second round by Boston. Playoff injuries have been a problem for London recently. Last year, Jean Larry and Fredrick Gerard, both starters, missed the playoffs. This year it was Val Crumley. Having Crumley would have certainly helped but it was doubtful the results would be any different against the talent-laden Buzzards.
 
“Hats off to Boston. They are a great and talented team. If not for injures they would have finished ahead of us in the standings. Their defense suffocated us throughout and we struggled to contain the perimeter. The better team won.” said Coach Bennett
 
So what is next for London? Defense has always been a strong point for the team but scoring remains an issue. Outside of Jose Owens, the team boost three double digit scorers: Jean Larry (10.6), Henry Warnock (10.5) and Val Crumley (10.5). Larry expertise is on defense, Warnock is a bench player and despite being a great player Crumley’s best days are behind him. For the Knights to regain their former glory, front office must address the team’s lack of scoring options. When London last won the championship it was Alain Lagon (16.9 points) running next to Owens. The year before that it was Colby Allan (16.8 points). Something needs to be done.
 
“We’ve focus heavily on defense and have neglected the ability to score. Part of that is because we have Jose who is a great scorer and a dominating force. But having Jose has made us complacent. We need to surround him with quality scorers. We’ll find a way.” said GM Lian.
 
How Lian plans to address the issue is a head scratcher. The team is currently committed to 11 players and will have 2 more after the draft. There is little cap space to sign anyone of importance. Lian would have to find a diamond using veteran minimums in Free Agency. Either that or someone steps up on the team.
 
In other news Jean Larry won his 8th straight DMVP and Owens won the 6th Man of the Year. Coach Bennett and GM Lian were selected as the Coach and GM of the Year respectively.

 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020 23:31

London Midseason Report

The London Knights sit atop the National East division with the Boston Buzzards, both with identical 33-12 records. The Knights have been getting it done behind a solid defense. On defense the team is once again anchored by Jean Larry (10 points, 10 rebounds and 5.5 blocks), though he is hardly alone. Jose Owens and Gerald Stubblefield have been perfect compliments to the reigning DMVP.  Offensively the team has relied on the board shoulders of Owens.  He leads the Knights with 24 points per game.  Four others are averaging 10 points as London takes a committee approach when a breather is needed.  At the midway point of the season Owens is averaging 24 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks and without a doubt the team’s MVP thus far. 

 

There have been many surprises for London after playing half a season.  The team has tried various lineups and the one player that has stood out is point guard Evaristo Gonzalez.  The young Spaniard signed with the team on a minimum contract and has played so well the club rewarded him with a 4-year extension.  Drafted in the 2nd round three seasons ago, Gonzalez is now poised to become the Knights point guard for the future.  He has been paired with Val Crumley, who has shifted to shooting guard, in order to help him acclimate with the team and the system.

 

“Gonzo is not going to be Val.  But he will work his tail off and bring it every game.  Above all else he prides himself on getting his teammates involved and playing defense.” said Gonzalez.

 

Other pleasant surprises have been Henry Warnock.  Warnock has been the team’s starting power forward for most of the season.  Still a young and developing player, he is averaging 10 points in 19 minutes as he continues to work on his game and conditioning.  Warnock was also given a 4-year extension.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is Tyson Zavala, the team’s former first round pick (#27).  Zavala was on the cusp of getting cut but since then is averaging 9 points in 25 minutes and shooting a very efficient 49% (39% on 3 pointers).  He gives the Knights a big perimeter defender that the team has been seeking.

 

Heading into the second half of the season, London will look to solidify their rotation and gear up for the postseason. 

Monday, 01 June 2020 16:28

London Offseason

 

London entered Free Agency with plenty of cash to spend and several enticing targets to go after.  But in the end the club decided the grass wasn't that green on the other side.  Instead of making a play for Charles Flowers, Andrew Jackson, etc the Knights re-upped their two superstars: Val Crumley and Jose Owens.  In fact GM Lian basically decided to run it back with last team’s team.  Jeffrey Cluff, Forrest Valentine, Thomas Grundy and Henry Warnock all return to try and better last season’s disappointing finish.  The only new players are the team thus far are role players Evaristo Gonzalez and Cole Engle, and this year’s draftees Orville Callan (#25) and Thad Fowlkes (#53).

 

“We wanted to bring back Val and Jose.  They were our guys and have been here since the beginning.  Val gave us a little home town discount and we were able to re-sign Jose after both attracted a lot of suitors.  I think I speak not just for the club but also for the fans when I say that we’re very happy right now.  This year I believe even though we have the essentially the same roster we are a better team.  We had a lot of new faces last season and it was expected that there was going to be an adjustment period.  I don’t see that happening this year.  We’re going to hit the ground running.” said Lian

 

In the draft the Knights selected Orville Callan with the 25th overall pick.  Callan is expected to play both Center and Power Forward positions and has been compared internally with Gerald Stubblefield.  The 6-10 big man out of Colorado is a rugged player with superb interior defense and a nose for the ball.  For a big, he is an excellent passer and quick on his feet.  In his junior season at Colorado, Callan averaged 7 points, 7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.

 

“We’re very happy with Orville dropping to us at 25.  He’s likely not going to get significant minutes this season but he has a bright future.” said Lian

 

 

Thursday, 30 April 2020 18:12

London Ends Season, Eyes Flowers

 

It has been some time since London found itself out of the playoffs in the first round.  In fact, that was way back in 2018 during Year 2 of the Crumley and Larry era.  It was the first time that the Knights made the playoffs under General Manager Lian’s watch.  That year London lost 4-1 to Boston and the Buzzards went on to the Conference Finals.  This year the Knights got swept by Vancouver, who are now also in the Conference Finals.  Its now up to Lian to regroup the club.  This offseason will be big for the franchise.  Val Crumley and Jose Owens are both free agents and its likely that the team will not bring both back with max contracts.  Both have played integral roles in the Knights championship runs but it comes down to dollars and the future. 

 

 

 

“Val and Jose are two of my all time favorite players.  Both are going in the history book for this franchise, no doubt about it.  We absolutely would love to bring them both back.  But it’ll be tough given how depleted our roster is going to be.  We need to reload and rebuild.” said Lian

 

 

 

London has only 4 players under contract for next year: Jean Larry, Gerald Stubblefield, Fedrick Gerard and Tyson Zavala.  If the team does not bring back both players there are already rumors that Lian plans to go hard after Toronto’s Charles Flowers. 

 

 

 

“There’s no secret that we covet Charles Flowers.  I think every team in the league covets him.  Why would you not?  We’ve made attempts to trade for him in the past and we had been refused each time by that Canadian team.  We are looking forward to free agency when we can sit down and talk with Charles directly.  I think we have a lot to offer and he might like to play in the great city of London.  We have great fish and chips.” said Lian

 

 

 

Aside from Flowers the Knights are also making plans to have conversations with several players as the team look to upgrade/fill the perimeter positions.  This season it was a rotating door of players from the D League next to Crumley, though the team held up well with Crumley playing either positions on any given night.  While some may say it was the injuries to Larry and Fredrick Gerard as the reasons for London’s early playoff exit, that is not true.  It was the failure to find an adequate replacement for Alain Lagon.

 

 

 

“Vancouver is one of the toughest teams to play a 7 game series against.  Well run, well coached team.  And they play defense like no one else.  Against a team like that we needed extra scoring options.  We just did not have it.  They took it to us and punched us in the mouth and we didn’t answer.  We’ll do better next time.” said Lian

 

Monday, 09 March 2020 23:13

London Midseason Report

With nearly half the season over, London is in a dogfight with Boston for the top spot in the National East division.  The two teams are tied for the division lead with both splitting the head-to-head matchup so far.  In a season where many viewed London as vulnerable, the Knights have held steady on the backs of their stalwarts, Val Crumley, Jean Larry and Jose Owens.  Crumley remains one of the best floor generals in the league despite being 32 years old.  Larry is still Larry, a premier defender, though his blocks are down at 5.4.  Though that’s likely due to the team having 3 other bigs rejecting 2+ shots per game.  Then there's Owens.  The big man started slow but has turned it on and currently leads the team in points per game at 21.8.

 

Outside of the big 3, the team have leaned heavily on Fredrick Gerard and Thomas Grundy, both veterans with the team for many seasons now.  Gerard once again is starting for the Knights at small forward while Grundy is playing out of position at shooting guard earlier on.  Power forward Forrest Valentine was signed off the street to provide additional scoring upfront and has delivered in spades.  He currently is 2nd on the team in scoring at 12.6 points while shooting 52%. 

 

The biggest challenge for the team was rebuilding the perimeter after the entire backcourt (minus Crumley) defected in Free Agency.  Gone were Alain Lagon, Truman Kaplan and Louie Benfield.  In their place are Ed Scott (6'1"), Eric Durham (6'2"), and Jeffrey Cluff (6'1").  After having one of the biggest backcourts in the league, the Knights are going small this season. 

 

Coach Bennett: "Someone once said its not the size of the dog but the fight in the dog.  Or something like that.  We have total confidence in Eddy, Eric and Jeff.  They're going to get the job done for us and we can be successful with them on the team."

 

As the coaching staff adjusted the game plan and lineup losses were expected.  Sitting with a record of 29-10, the team is thus far happy with the results and expect to be better heading into the second half of the season.  It will be a tough half as the schedule will be very road heavy.

 

 

 

Monday, 27 January 2020 17:16

London Set for New Season

A new season is about to tip off and London has a chance to become the first three-peat champions in league history.  The offseason has been relatively quiet as the front office weights paying up to keep the team intact versus waiting until this offseason when the contracts of franchise leader, Val Crumley, and star big man Jose Owens are up for renewal.  In the end the team chose to reserve their cap.  The results were the departures of Alain Lagon to division rivals, South Florida Sharks.  Truman Kaplan and Erik Hall soon followed Lagon to Florida and signed with the Tampa Bay Tritons.  Louie Benfield also departed for sunnier locale, moving all the way to San Diego to join the Storm.

 

“We’ll certainly missed those guys. Alain was instrumental in helping us win a title last season.  We wanted him back for another run but in the end he decided to take his talents to South Florida.  Truman, Louie and Erik all played quality minutes for us off the bench.  They’ll certainly get opportunities to play bigger roles with their new teams.  We miss them all the best.” said GM Lian

 

With the decision to be cost conscious the team filled the roster with 1-year deals.  Most notable is the return of defensive ace, Thomas Grundy.  Grundy would continue to be used at both Small Forward and Shooting Guard, though indications are he might start the season opener.  The Knights also signed several young guards, Ed Scott (25yr), Paul Medeiros (26yr), Irving Silas (24yr) and Tony Sokol (23yr), to help replenish the bench and offset the loss of Lagon.  Scott is a defensive minded point guard in the mold of Kaplan.  Silas and Sokol are the complete opposite and will mainly be task to pick up the scoring vacancy left by Lagon and Benfield.  Medeiros is a combo guard that will fill needs at both guard positions and used based on matchups.  Lastly, the team were able to bring back Henry Warnock. The young big man still has a way to go before he’s ready to play full time in the pros but the team liked what you displayed in limited minutes last season.

 

“We’re happy to have Thomas back.  We pride ourselves on defense and he’s been one of our best defenders.  Henry has looked great on the training squad and play some quality minutes for us.  With the new guys, myself and the rest of the coaching staff are going to need to find ways for them to fit in our system.  We can surely use the help and I know they’ll be great additions.” said Coach Bennett

 

In the draft the Knights drafted Tyson Zavala and Kevin Kellar.  Both are long defensive-minded perimeter players.  Preseason will decide if either one sticks with the club.  As has been the case for the past several seasons, the Knights will be sitting most of their veterans and letting the younger players shine in the preseason.  Expect lineup changes almost on a game by game basis.

 

Sunday, 08 September 2019 22:08

London Early Season Report

With a little more than a quarter of the way through the season London stands barely atop the National Conference with a record of 22-6, a measly 0.5 game ahead of Minnesota.  Boston and Honolulu are 1.5 games back.  After re-signing Jean Larry, the Knights have been leaning on the reigning DMVP and the defense as the offense come up to speed.  The team is 2nd in the league in points allowed at 89 points and rank 1st in field goal percentage (37%).  While the Knights are averaging over 103 points, it has been inconsistent as the coaching staff continuously shuffles the lineup.   Coach Bennett has made it a point of emphasis to give everyone on the team playing time.

 

Coach Bennett: “People look at our team and see Larry, Val and Jose and think we’re just going to ride those guys all season.  I don’t think that’s very effective and we certainly not going to run them ragged.  We want them fresh for the latter part of the season.  We have guys on the team that can play within their roles.  And its my job and staff’s to maximize that.  I’m sure we’ll going to take some losses and that’s completely acceptable.  We want to get better as the season moves forward.”

 

Of note has been Alain Lagon’s move from his natural small forward position to point guard.  Many had thought that Crumley will start once again at point guard after switching with Colby Allan last year.  That has not been the case.  In fact, both players are flourishing.  In 28 minutes, Crumley is averaging 14 points, 7 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals.  After a slow start Lagon is averaging 15 points in 27.5 minutes and shooting close to his career high (51.5% vs 51.7%).  At small forward it has been a revolving door with Fredrick Gerald, Thomas Grundy, Lagon and now newly signed off the streets James Hammett having taken turns at the position.  Its likely going to be that way throughout the season.

 

Entering the new year, the Knights kick off one of their most difficult stretches of the season with games against Honolulu, Vancouver, Minnesota, Toronto and Boston.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019 23:28

London Midseason Report

Half through the season and the Knights sit atop the league standings with a 35-9 record, one game ahead of American Conference powerhouses, the Pioneers and the Tritons.  The team is getting it done on both ends of the court, ranking near the top in both defensive and offensive efficiency.  On defense, London is once again lead by Jean Larry.  Averaging 12 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks, Larry looks to be on his way to a 5th straight Defensive MVP award.  Coming off another virtuoso performance against Minnesota, where he dropped another triple double on the Marauders, Larry had this to say about the career year he’s having.

“Personal achievements are great and I think everyone needs them.  They’re personal goals that push you.  But what really matters is the team.  If we’re not winning, stats don’t mean anything.  They’re just hollow numbers.  I’m happy for the year I’m having but more importantly I’m happy that we’re winning.  We still have a long way to go.”

Offensively, its been Jose Owens leading the charge.  The big man has had to endure criticism about his weight and conditioning to start the season but has since turned it on, even recently earning league player of the week. 

“Yeah, that’s right, call me fat and out of shape now!  I should be starting dammit!  Then you see me put up some numbers.  When I’m on there’s not a player in this league that can stop.. except for maybe JL (Jean Larry). “

While his performance (21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks per game) has improved there has been no indication that the coaching staff is thinking about inserting him back into the starting lineup.  As it stands now he gets starter minutes off the bench and gives the Knights a might needed boost from their second unit.  Larry and Owens are the standouts but its hardly been just the two.  Colby Allan has settled in as the point guard for the team and is having a bounce back year in efficiency with 49% field goal percentage and shooting 42% on three-point attempts.  Allan’s success (17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds) has allowed Val Crumley (13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals) to play off the ball at the shooting guard position.  A bit undersized but Crumley has used his quickness and superb defense to hold his own against the guards in the league.

Outside of the big 4, fans tend to forget the vast contributions of the team’s younger players.  Fredrick Gerard, Louie Benfield, Truman Kaplan and Sebastian Calabro have all taken a step forward in their development and given the team a much deeper and balanced roster.  Gerard and Benfield were waiver pickups last season and re-signed this past offseason.  Calabro has been a Knight for four years while Kaplan was drafted by the club in the first round. 

“I really like how our young guys are playing.  I think all of four of them plus our two draftees this year, Gerald and Efrain, are going to be big time contributors on this team.  They’re learning how to play the game from our veterans and in turn are pushing the veterans to be better.  I like where we’re headed with this group.“ said GM Lian

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 23:14

Owens: Overweight and Benched

Almost 10 games into the season and Jose Owens have yet to start for London.  After a career year, Owens was expected to be the focal point for the Knights.  But instead he has been relegated to the bench and has watched the team start rookie Gerald Stubblefield and journeyman Tony Jimenez.  While both players have done an admirable job filling in, there is no doubt that they don’t come anywhere close to what Owens offers.  Both Coach Shay and the front office have been unwilling to discuss Owens’ benching.  The silence was broken today as an unidentified source came forward and stated that Owens was in the doghouse due to weight issues.  It seems that he came into camp a little heftier than what was expected from the coaching staff.

 

After the team came from their three game roadtrip, Owens was asked if this was the case.

“Look I don’t know how this is a thing.  I admit I like to eat and that I’m not the run-for-miles type of guy like Val is.  I’m a big man.  That’s my game, that’s my position.  Maybe I can be a little leaner like JL (Jean Larry) but again that’s not my game.  I’m a power guy.  Anyways, we got guys pushing 300 pounds walking around here.  Look at TB (Tuan Bunch) and TJ (Tony Jimenez).  Hell, Tuan eats so much we call him Brunch.  Why don’t people get on them for their weight.” said Owens

 

While that might be the case, both Bunch and Jimenez are seven footers and neither are stars on the team.  There is no question that Owens is slow to start the season.  He’s shooting a career worst 43% and an awful 14% on three-point attempts.  More concerning is that he’s been noticeably winded late in games.   

 

Tonight the team host undefeated Tampa Bay and then travel to Las Vegas.  Its unknown if Coach Shay will insert him into the starting lineup to face one of the biggest frontcourt in the league.  The Knights can certainly use his size but more importantly they need their star big man to shake out of his funk.  The team is 7-2 and has been led offensively by the solid play of their guards: Val Crumley (15pts, 6asts and 6rebs), Colby Allan (16pts, 5asts and 5rebs) and Fredrick Gerard (15pts and 5rebs).  Defensively, Larry continues to be a rock with almost 12.7rebs and 7.4blks to go with 11 points.

 

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