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The Hustle Report: Recapping week six of the Memphis Hustle’s inaugural season

Omari Johnson dominated this week

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Week Six brought some exciting news for Grizzly Bear Blues. Starting with Sunday’s game against the OKC Blue, GBB will have Mac Trammell, Matt Preston, and myself (Brandon Abraham) in attendance to cover every Hustle home game for the rest of the season. Be on the lookout for more Hustle coverage as the season progresses.

Now, on to the Hustle Report.

Week 6 Results

Greensboro Swarm 94 @ Memphis Hustle 112 (6-7)

Oklahoma City Blue 127 @ Memphis Hustle 123 (6-8)

Iowa Wolves 117 @ Memphis Hustle 98 (6-9)

Week 6 Storylines

  • GBB Officially covering Hustle games
  • Dusty Hannahs goes off against the Blue
  • Hustle get involved in community; deliver over 500 coats to kids at Kingsbury Elementary
  • G-League announces some games will be streamed on Twitch beginning December 15th

Game 13 Breakdown

ACC Basketball Tournament: Boston College v Miami (FL) Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Omari Johnson- 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Durand Scott- 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Trahson Burrell- 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
  • Kobi Simmons- 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists

The Hustle started off their 3-game homestand with a dominant win over the Greensboro Swarm. It was the first true blow-out win for the Hustle this season. The Hustle have been dominant in games in the past, but have allowed the opposing team to make it close in the end. Saturday was a different story, as the Hustle lead by more than 15 points the entire second half. Omari Johnson continued his recent stretch of great play, leading the Hustle in a game in which every available player scored.

The Hustle defense did a great job slowing down Charles Cooke, holding him to just 3 points on 1-5 shooting. The biggest takeaway from this game was that the Hustle were finally able to build a lead and hold onto it.

Game 14 Breakdown

SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Dusty Hannahs- 23 points, 4 rebounds, 7-9 from 3
  • Omari Johnson- 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks
  • Trahson Burrell- 19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks
  • Marquis Teague- 14 points, 4 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals

The Hustle nearly completed a 26 point comeback, thanks to a 49 point 4th quarter, against the OKC Blue on Saturday but ultimately fell just short. The comeback was lead by Kobi Simmons (13 4Q points) and Dusty Hannahs’ seven 3’s, but the Hustle couldn’t overcome a poor defensive effort where they allowed Bryce Alford (35 points) and Myke Henry (27 points) to go off. You can check the full recap of the game here.

Game 15 Breakdown

Washington v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Omari Johnson- 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
  • Kobi Simmons- 17 points, 3 assists
  • Ivan Rabb- 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks
  • Marquis Teague- 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists

The Hustle fell to the Iowa Wolves 117-98 after being outscored 30-17 in the 4th quarter. The Wolves shot an incredible 59% from the field and harassed the Hustle on the defensive end forcing 24 turnovers and turning them into 31 points. The Wolves were lead by a balanced effort from their team. Anthony Brown and Melo Trimble both scored 17 points while Elijah Millsap, Amile Jefferson and Perry Jones III all scored 14 points. Former Memphis Tiger Shawne Williams torched the Hustle from deep, shooting 4-5 from deep to score 13 points. You can see the full recap of the game here.

MVP of the Week - Omari Johnson

Oregon State v UCLA Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Omari Johnson has been on an absolute tear for the Hustle recently, highlighted by his performance this week. Averaging 18.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, Johnson was very efficient and has become a reliable 3 point shooter for the team. Omari has arguably been the best player for the Hustle the last few weeks and definitely the most consistent. Look for Omari to keep up his stellar play this coming week, too.

Numbers to Know*

114.8: The Hustle give up 114.8 points a game in their losses, while giving up only 103.5 in games they win. That 11 point difference is key, considering the Hustle average right in the middle of that at 109.9 points a game. The Hustle are a team that is capable of scoring a ton of points a game, but it is obvious that they benefit the most when they’re defense steps up and doesn’t get the team in shootout situations. I’ve written a lot about how the Hustle defense needs to improve and be consistent and if they do so, the wins should start piling on.

15: The Hustle have allowed 15 players to score over 25 points in a game this season (4 players have scored more than 30), showing further proof defense is an area of concern for the Hustle. The Hustle do a pretty good job containing role players on opposing teams, but they typically allow 1-2 players to go off for high scoring games. I’m not sure if it’s individual guys getting torched on the defensive end, or if it something Coach Cyprien needs to do better when scheming defensively, but the Hustle simply allow too many points to certain players each game.

38.2%: After starting the season shooting poorly from beyond the arc, the Hustle are now shooting a solid 38.2% from deep, which is top five in the league. The Hustle attempt the least amount of 3’s of the top five, showing they maximize on their opportunities and aren’t just throwing shots up. The Hustle did manage to shoot 20/39 in their close loss to the Blue on Sunday, but Coach Cyp will likely not want the team to have to shoot 39 3’s in a game often. The 3 point shot has gone from a problem to a nice surprise for the Hustle.

*Stats as of morning of 12/13 as G league website doesn’t update until morning after games

Week 6 Grade - B

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the 1-2 record this week, the Hustle deserve a B for their play this week. The defense, or lack there of, is concerning but that’s how most teams in the G-League are. They had a fully dominant effort over Greensboro, nearly came back against a good team in the OKC Blue, and kept it close with an underrated Wolves team despite that 4th quarter. The Hustle are the youngest team in the G-League and I believe they’ve handled this early season adversity well although the record doesn’t necessarily show.

Week 7 Preview

Memphis Hustle @ Santa Cruz Warriors (10-7) 12/15 9 PM

Memphis Hustle @ South Bay Lakers (11-3) 12/17 7 PM

Memphis Hustle @ Iowa Wolves (5-8) 12/19 7 PM

  • The Hustle will spend the entirety of the next week on the road, starting with a matchup against the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Santa Cruz Warriors, like their NBA affiliate in Golden State, are a great scoring and passing team ranked in the top 5 in the G-League in both categories. The Warriors are lead by guard Quinn Cook, but he may be with the Golden State squad with Steph Curry out, which would be very beneficial to the Hustle. In Cook’s expected absence, the Santa Cruz squad will be lead by the likes of Iowa State alum Georges Niang.

The Hustle will need a big game from their big men to balance out Niang’s production. Defense, which has been a major issue for the Hustle, will determine the game. The Hustle have shown that the ability to play good defense, but mostly in short stretches of time. To steal a win in Santa Cruz, the Hustle will need to at least play a good 24-36 minutes of defense to overcome the high scoring Warriors.

  • The Hustle will then travel south to face off against the South Bay Lakers who are currently second in the Western Conference. The Lakers are very similar to the Warriors as they are top 3 in the G-League in points per game and assists per game. Lead by Thomas Bryant and Alex Caruso, the Lakers put up over 120 points a game. The Hustle may be beneficiaries of the Lakers injury bug as they could potentially be without Caruso and guard Vander Blue, who contribute nearly 40 points per game combined. Even without those two, the Lakers don’t lack talent and it will take a strong defensive effort from the Hustle to come away with a win against one of the western conference’s best teams.
  • The Hustle will conclude their road trip with a visit to Des Moines to play against an Iowa Wolves squad they lost to just 6 days prior. The Hustle, as is the theme this week, will need to play solid defense to defeat the same Wolves team that just torched them. With Austin Nichols and Shaq Thomas hopefully coming back soon, the Hustle should get some added depth to keep them competitive this week.

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