The Arsenal recently finished out their season with an epic 12-game losing streak. As it turns out, this will be their final season — the team announced that the franchise was being transferred to another organization, which will relocate the team to Springfield, MA for next season. I am, naturally, pretty disappointed, although the move is not entirely unexpected.
It’s sort of strange — I feel that, overall, the team personnel this year was a little bit better than last year. Kedrick Brown, Cedric Bozeman, and James White all had solid years, and I really feel like Brown in particular improved his game quite a bit since last year. However, it seems like the team’s offense relied too much on a philosophy of more shooting from the guards this year — I feel like the team’s ball-handling took a dive this year, and it really hurt them down the stretch in close games. (And this is even after the team parted ways with Tierre Brown, who never met a shot he didn’t like…) There were a number of games where the Arsenal were close or slightly ahead in the final minutes, but had key turnovers on the offensive end that were the difference makers. The lack of solid ball-handlers, and guards who could drive and dish under pressure, seems like the biggest difference between last year’s team (which had a solid second half and very nearly climbed back to .500) and this year’s, which finished tied for the worst record in the league.
The one player who I feel was pretty much a total bust was Malick Badiane, who had “project player” written all over him. He didn’t have much of a shot, particularly once you got past about 5 feet from the basket, didn’t rebound well, didn’t pass well, didn’t have great court awareness (particularly on the offensive end without the ball), was only an okay defender, and was prone to committing poor fouls. In short, not a heck of a lot of upside for a big man.
Sadly, it also felt like the team quit down the stretch — I’m not sure if they knew the news about the move, or if there was contention between the players and the coach, but there was a palpable lack of enthusiasm and team play as the season went on. I don’t have any sort of inside information on this matter, but it was pretty clear to me as someone who was at nearly every home game.
The expanded D-League playoffs are about to begin, but it’s hard for me to muster up a lot of enthusiasm about it. This is the first time that a team I followed and rooted for has simply ceased to exist, and without the prospect of a local replacement (I can’t support the D-Fenders, if only because of the Laker connection), I find myself in the strange position of feeling my fandom being taken away from me, instead of me drifting away from it.