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[The Monitor] Notebook: Vipers continue punishing opponents on offensive glass

Discussion in 'Rio Grande Valley Vipers' started by HoopScribe, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 11:00 pm


    During Nevada Smith’s almost two years at the helm of the Vipers, rebounding has been a constant, specifically on the offensive end.

    Last season, the Vipers were No. 3 in offensive rebound percentage (the percentage of rebounds a team or player gets that are available) and are No. 4 this season despite not having the size or height they did last year.

    “We talk about offensive rebounding,” Smith said. “What angles to go at, which guys go (to offensive rebound) on what shots, and where people should be. From the defensive side, we talk about maintaining contact and finding the ball and going to get it.”

    In rebounds per game, the Vipers are No. 1 this season at 49.3. They play at the second-fastest pace in the NBA D-League, generating more possessions than most teams, but an indication of their rebounding prowess is that they outrebound Reno, which averages 121 possessions to the Vipers’ 111.

    The emphasis on 3-point shooting leads to long rebounds, and that’s where the Vipers’ wealth of rangy, quick athletes makes its impact.

    “We’re a team that likes to get shots, so if we miss and go get it that’s another chance to shoot,” said forward Tony Bishop Jr., the team’s fourth-best rebounder at 6-foot-7. “That’s what we do. It takes a lot of heart, but we have guys with pride and heart.”


    No Vipers player has improved quicker than Houston Rockets assignee and rookie center Clint Capela. The 6-foot-10, 245-pound first-round pick last summer is having a dominant January.

    In six games this month, Capela is averaging 21 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in 24 minutes. He is shooting 64.6 percent, and on Wednesday he was named to the All-NBADL Showcase first team.

    In two games last weekend at the Showcase in Santa Cruz, Capela averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. He also had three assists and three steals and was 18 for 24 from the field.

    Capela is still on a minutes-restriction as he recovers from a preseason groin injury, but he is at 27 now instead of the 20-25 last week.

    “I played well, I was feeling in shape,” Capela said. “It was easy for me to run back and forth on the court. My partners find me every time, so I create on that. Be aggressive, and both games I did that. It was important for me.”

    Capela said being more consistent in his “activity” is the most important thing he’s seen in his game. It’s also meant more playing time.

    “I know I need to run the court to be efficient on the court,” Capela said. “I’m more efficient because I can go for every rebound, I can get up and down for longer periods of time and I’m just getting better.”


    The Vipers are on a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season, heading into Friday’s home game against Fort Wayne at 7 p.m. They’ve had an influx of talent, now boasting six players with NBA experience, including three assignees from the Rockets.

    And that has led to better practices.

    “Our intensity level is high,” Smith said. “We had hit a comfort zone where guys knew they were going to play no matter how bad they practiced, because we didn’t have much of a choice. Now it’s to a point where guys are hungry and pushing everyone because minutes are scarce and there’s a lot more talent here. It’s a better atmosphere.”

    But the Vipers are far from a defined product. These Vipers are learning to play together on the fly, and incorporating such elite talent all at once poses challenges.

    “We’re just throwing pieces out there and hoping they stick,” Smith said. “We do have a ton of talent. We just have to learn to play with each other.”

    It is unlikely the Vipers will have this surplus of NBA talent all season. Any day now, the Rockets could recall Capela, Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson, or an NBA team could call-up Glen Rice Jr., Toure’ Murry and Chris Johnson.

    But for now, it’s a boon, particularly for young players who saw major minutes earlier this season and now can apply that experience to lessons learned from those who have been there, done that.

    “As a player like myself who’s looking to get to the NBA,” Bishop said, “you try and take advantage of whatever they have to offer.”


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