On the Road with DeeJay

January 4th, 2010 | by Spencer Hall

By @deejay14 / deejay14@ymail.com

Special to Salt City Hoops

I would call it a once in a lifetime opportunity but this was my third trip to Boise for the Utah Flash’s annual double header with the Idaho Stampede. My trip began the day after Christmas at 9:30 am. I drove straight to Boise making just one stop at the border to fill up on gas. After 6 hours of driving I had arrived at my destination! Upon my arrival I went to the Comfort Suites, the official hotel for any team playing the Stampede, and got on their computer to check out what was going on in the world. After exceeding the 15 minute time limit, head trainer Nate Hunt walked by and saw me with my Flash shirt on. After a double-take he realized that it was me. In confusion he asked me a few questions then went on with his business.

I didn’t see any players in the next few minutes so I decided to make a trip to the local Wal-Mart just two exits west of the airport. Not sure why I went there because I ended up buying a bag of Christmas M&M’s and some undershirts. Getting closer to game time I hurried back to the hotel to see if I could catch a few guys before they took off to Quest Arena. I got there just in time to watch them loading up in the taxi. I walked inside to get warm, passing by former Charlotte Bobcat call-up Dontell Jefferson. He chuckled and said hi to me, remembering last year when I drove up. That was two hours before game time but apparently the arena doesn’t open their doors until an hour before – so I got to exceed the computer time limit in the hotel lobby once again.

Before the preseason game in Burley the Stampede staff gave away BOGO coupons hoping that a fellow Idahoan would make the 3 hour trip up for a game. They probably didn’t count on Flash fans willing to drive six hours. I brought one up and they let me use it to get one ticket for that night’s game and another for the game on Monday.

When I walked down to the court to watch the team warm up the guys saw me and all started smiling and shaking their heads as they greeted me and continued to take shots. The only one who wasn’t surprised was Andre Ingram as he has been with the team for all three years. Mark Madsen gave me the opportunity to rebound for the team with him.

The attendance for the game was 2384, a thousand below the D-League average. The game started off great; it looked like the Flash would walk over the Stampede, making 8 of their first 11 shots and jumping out to a 20-11 lead. Unfortunately for Utah, Idaho’s backcourt includes both Lanny Smith and call-up prospect Sundiata Gaines and they fought back. At the end of the first quarter the teams were all tied up at 27.

The third quarter wound down with back-to-back buckets by both Lee Cummard and Luke Nevill and the Flash led by ten, up 78-68. Then came the 4th quarter…

Things started off well enough with a three point bucket by Ingram, who leads the league with 33 of them (.471), giving the Flash a 12 point lead. Then the wheels came off with a flashback from last week’s game against the Dakota Wizard when the Flash blew a 22 point fourth quarter lead, giving up a 32-11 run. This time it was Idaho’s Emmanuel Jones, who scored half of his points in the first five minutes of the fourth and led the Stampede on a 10-0 run, cutting the lead to just 2. From then on it went back and forth until 5:14 left in the game. The Flash had the lead at 91-87 lead but would shoot just 1-8 from the field and score just five points in the final five minutes.

With 1:07 left in the game, down one, Carlos Wheeler went hard to the bucket and was fouled by Boise State alum Roberto Bergersen. Wheeler missed both free throws. Luckily for the Flash, Mildon Ambres would miss a three point attempt at the other end and Carlos would have another shot at the line. This time he made both, giving the Flash a 96-95 lead with 42 seconds to play. After an Idaho turnover, Dontell had his shot blocked by 6’10” Cedric Simmons. Bennett Davis fouled Lanny Smith with five seconds left and both free throws were made, giving the Stampede a one point lead. The inbounded pass was stripped at the other end of the court as time expired and that was the game. Final Score: Utah 96, Idaho 97.

Final Stats (pts-reb-ast-stl-blk)
O. Green: 12-10-6-4
A. Ingram: 16-6
C. Wheeler: 16-7-4
D. Jefferson: 14-2-2
L. Nevill: 11-8-2
B. Davis: 14-5

S. Gaines: 21-3-3-3
C. Simmons: 8-11-0-0-7
M. Ambres: 13-10
L. Smith: 21-3

Following the loss I got a chicken wrap for dinner and it was off to bed. I parked right outside the hotel to hopefully go to sleep. It only took me about 20 minutes to adjust to the 20° temperature. I woke up three or four times, but after I put on an extra blanket I was good. When I say “good,” I mean considering the circumstances. In livable conditions, 20° is not good. I woke up around 9:30am to find myself freezing cold, which was expected. My toes were frozen hard and I had some serious hunger in my stomach. So what did I do? Naturally, I took my ice scraper and scraped off the snow on the inside of my car, changed my clothes, and went inside the warm hotel to take advantage of their continental breakfast for all who stayed on their property. I just ate a waffle and a yogurt. Bennett Davis and former UVU star Jordan Brady were just finishing up. They got done just in time for the team to leave for shoot around.

The next hour of my day was spent sitting on the couches in the hotel lobby, browsing on the computer and watching the news. By now it was around 11 o’clock on Sunday so I put on my church clothes and Google mapped the closest LDS church. After driving around for 20 minutes looking for the church, I found a small brown brick building but it ended up being some kind of museum so I went back to the hotel to get better directions. This time the printer didn’t work but I managed to draw a map with enough information to get me there. I got to the church at 11:30am but found out that the meetings had started at nine, so I was just catching the end of it. I could only find the Primary room for the kids and the Elders that were in the chapel so I snuck in there to listen to them.

The meeting ended and I wasn’t really sure what to do but I had a feeling that I should stick around. LDS meetinghouses usually have several wards using the same building so I waited for a while until more people showed up. It ended up that the next meetings were starting at 12:30. I met a family who has a son on a mission in Japan and my bro is also in Japan so we talked a bit about that and they were really nice.

So the meeting began and just seconds after the Bishop started talking Coach Mark Madsen, Lee Cummard, Nate Hunt, Jordan Brady and his wife all snuck in. I went over and sat by them and they were surprised once again. Madsen wore a purple tie with pink and yellow flowers. Brady’s outfit matched 100% and sort of looked like he was going to Prom with all that brown he had on. [Editor’s note: Apparently guys wear brown to Prom at DeeJay’s high school. Come on American Fork, throw on some black.] After church they took their taxi back to the hotel and went in their respective rooms while I chilled in the lobby making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The following hours were spent repeating what I did the day before in the lobby – moving between the couch and the computer. At least I got to watch the Redskins / Cowboys game, so time passed by pretty fast. Then it was off to “bed.” This night wasn’t near as cold as the first and I only woke up once. Monday morning I woke up to find a nice hot breakfast waiting for me back inside the Hotel. This time I was in a bit earlier so I got to eat breakfast with Lee, Jason Richards, (Stephen Curry’s college pg), former Boston Celtic Orien Greene, Bennett and Coach Madsen.

After changing the computer wallpaper in the lobby to Dontell Jefferson (they later changed it back to a fish??), I found a place to eat on the way to downtown called Chapala Mexican Restaurant (1201 South Vista Avenue) and ate there. It was really good and the guys were way nice. If you’re ever in Boise be sure to check it out, it’s a little green building. Then it was back to the hotel until the team left for shoot around at 5pm. I found a Subway just blocks away from the arena and enjoyed a nice sandwich before arriving at the arena just as the doors opened.

For the second consecutive game the Flash got off to a hot start leading the game 17-6. They continued to dominate the first quarter. The Stampede cut the lead to just five before Lee Cummard hit a 3 and then followed it up seconds later with a drive for a lay-up. At the end of the first quarter the Flash had a 17 point lead 33-16. You know what happened next. Idaho went on a 21-6 run to cut the lead to 2. Utah finally got a hold of it again and the half ended at 50-45. Things went back and forth throughout the third quarter until a minute left. Gaines nailed a 3 pointer from the elbow and the Stampede took their first lead of the game. This is when it got interesting. Jordan Brady was running back on defense and Lanny Smith came from behind and wrapped his arm around Brady and pulled him to the ground. The refs, one with the Bill Simmons-approved name of Daisy Lane, ran towards them and asked Lanny what happened. He told them that Brady ran into him and pulled him down. Jordan replied to Lanny saying “Who pulled who down?” Daisy and the others didn’t like this so they T’d him up with a $150 fine. Idaho had a 4 point lead at the end of 3.

Then things got crazy. 1:19 left in the game, Flash down 4 and future call-up Dontell Jefferson nails a 3 to cut the deficit to 1. The crowd is loud, including one annoying lady 6 rows behind the bench who yelled nonsense the entire game. Gaines takes a 3 but misses. Still down one, both Dontell Jefferson and Andre Ingram take 3s but miss. Luckily my pick for player of the game, Orien Green, gets consecutive offensive rebounds and the Flash are still in the game. Dontell Jefferson gets fouled. Takes the first shot – it’s good! Tie game and 1,900+ are on their feet. The second shot is no good. Idaho has the ball with the score tied at 98. Gains yo-yo’s the dribble, drives the lane and passes it to a wide open Roberto Bergesen, who hits the 3. The Flash bring the ball up with 13 seconds left. The ball goes to Orien Green – Jones yells at them to play on because they are out of time outs. Orien calmly pulls up at the 3 point line and nails it! Tie game, and Jefferson knocks away the inbounds pass to the other end of the court and it’s the end of regulation.

In overtime, Dontell nails a 3 in front of Utah Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, who also made the trip up to Boise, putting the Flash up 2. After that it was a fight from the free throw line. The Flash go 9/10 from the charity stride during the final 1:19 and win the game 112-109, improving to 7-5 for the year, leaving them standing in fifth place in the league.

I was exhausted so I went straight to my bed (trunk) and fell asleep. The next day I made the 6 hour trip back home just in time for my mom’s birthday cake. Overall it was an amazing road trip. I would strongly recommend you to go to one of your favorite team’s road game. I would also recommend that you rent a hotel.

Final Stats (pts-reb-ast-stl-blk)
O. Green: 15-10-3
A. Ingram: 122-6
C. Wheeler: 20-14-4
D. Jefferson: 17-7-6
L. Nevill: 14-5
B. Davis: 12-8-5

S. Gaines: 31-4-7-5
C. Simmons: 29-13
M. Ambres: 17-12

*Update on James Lang: From his sister: “He is doing much better. He has been walking and trying to talk”

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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