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

Marquis Teague and Omari Johnson lead short-handed Hustle during a tough week

2017 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Week 7 Results

Memphis Hustle (7-9) 123 @ Santa Cruz Warriors 115

Memphis Hustle (7-10) 132 @ South Bay Lakers 137

Memphis Hustle (7-11) 111 @ Iowa Wolves 113

Week 7 Storylines

  • Kobi Simmons and Vince Hunter skip roadtrip; stay with Grizzlies
  • Hustle stay competitive with some of the West’s best teams
  • Austin Nichols returns from injury Tuesday

Game 16 Breakdown

Xavier v Arizona
Comanche played well in the absence of Austin Nichols
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Marquis Teague- 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Omari Johnson- 26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
  • Ivan Rabb- 15 points, 12 rebounds
  • Chance Comanche- 15 points, 8 rebounds
  • Durand Scott- 11 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists

The Hustle won a hard fought game against one of the Western Conference’s better teams last week when they defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Hustle were shorthanded but got production out of everybody in route to the win as no player scored less than 6 points. The Hustle won the battle on the boards, which was a big factor in the win. The Hustle outrebounded the Warriors 51-31 while grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.

This allowed the Hustle to outscore the Warriors in second chance points 28-7. Without Vince Hunter and Austin Nichols, a ton of pressure was going to be put on Ivan Rabb to play well but Chance Comanche really stepped up in their absence to help lead the Hustle to the win.

Game 17 Breakdown

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats

  • Omari Johnson- 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
  • Marquis Teague- 25 points, 8 assists
  • Ivan Rabb- 23 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks
  • Durand Scott- 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Trahson Burrell- 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks

It’s crazy to look at the above stat line and see those stats in a Hustle loss. 9 times out of 10, the Hustle win when they get that kind of production. Unfortunately, they were up against the top ranked team in the Western Conference, the South Bay Lakers. It was a back and forth game with 10 different lead changes, but a 4th quarter Lakers run was just enough to fight off the Hustle’s comeback attempt in the closing minutes.

The Hustle continued to show now signs of being short handed as they played up to their competition for the second game in a row. Omari Johnson and Marquis Teague lead the team again, but couldn’t overcome Travis Wear, Ivica Zubac, and Vander Blue, who combined for 75 points.

Game 18 Breakdown

NCAA Basketball: Tulane at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats

  • Trahson Burrell- 23 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
  • Marquis Teague- 20 points, 6 assists, 2 steals
  • Durand Scott- 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Chance Comanche- 14 points, 5 rebounds
  • Omari Johnson- 11 points, 9 rebounds

The Hustle finally got Austin Nichols back from his ankle injury that caused him to miss the teams last 5 games, but Ivan Rabb was also recalled from the Grizzlies so the Hustle were without him in their 3rd matchup with the Wolves. The still short-handed Hustle played much better than they did last week at home against the Wolves despite the narrow loss. It was a close game that saw 21 lead changes, but the Hustle couldn’t overcome the balanced play from the Wolves. Despite the loss, it was good to see the Hustle play much better and nearly come away with the win after they lost by 19 last week. The Wolves have been on fire in the month of December once they had all their available players, going 5-1 since December 5th.

MVP of the Week - Marquis Teague

Boston Celtics v Chicago Bulls

The race for MVP of the week was a close one between Marquis Teague and Omari Johnson this week, with Tuesday’s game being the deciding factor. Teague really stepped up in the absence of Kobi Simmons averaging nearly 24 points and 7 assists a game. He shot the ball well all week, shooting above 40%, but did struggle from 3. Marquis Teague looks to have been a great pickup by the Hustle, especially considering how well he’s able to play when Kobi is up with the Grizzlies.

Numbers to Know

88%: In the past I’ve written about how the Hustle struggle from the free throw line, as they are shooting 76% on the year. This past week showed great improvement in that department as the Hustle shot 88% from the charity stripe. This Hustle got their fair share of attempts, too, as they went 53-60 and shot 15 or more a game. The Hustle likely can’t keep at an 88% clip but all season, but it at least shows a sign of progress.

11.3: Chance Comanche, who I’ve rarely been able to talk about in these reports, came up big for the Hustle this past week. He averaged 11.3 points per game and stepped in admirably in the absence of the other Hustle bigs. Comanche has a long ways to go before he’s able to play big minutes on this squad, but he showed flashes of being able to produce this past week.

68: The Hustle scored 68 second chance points this past week, averaging over 22 a game. This shows that the Hustle are still a solid rebounding team and are also taking advantage of most of their second chance opportunities. Ivan Rabb plays a big part in this, but players like Trahson Burrell who sneak in for the rebounds and put backs are what make this team the 3rd ranked team in the G-League at converting second chance opportunities.

Week 7 Grade - B+

NBA: Summer League-Miami Heat at Memphis Grizzlies Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the 1-2 record, I’m very impressed with the way the Hustle played this week. They were shorthanded all week, yet stayed competitive with 3 of the best teams in their conference. Marquis Teague stepped up in Simmons absence and Omari Johnson stepped up as the Hustle were without Austin Nichols or Ivan Rabb in the games this week. The competitive game against the Wolves, 6 days after getting blown out by them, shows that Coach Cyprien is a good coach. He was able to turn things around and stop some of the things that killed the Hustle last week. Personally, I believe the Hustle would be 2-1 had Rabb been available that game.

Week 8 Preview

Louisville v Memphis Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Austin Spurs (11-7) @ Memphis Hustle 12/22 7 PM

Memphis Hustle @ Sioux Falls SkyForce (7-10) 12/25 7 PM

Memphis Hustle @ Salt Lake City Stars (3-16) 12/27 8 PM

Game 19 Preview: The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Hustle, as they face off against a solid Spurs team lead by Darrun Hilliard and Olivier Hanlan, who can both put up a ton of points. The Spurs have won 3 in a row as Derrick White has joined the team in the their last 4 games. The Hustle will need to slow down those 3 as well as stay out of foul trouble. The Hustle still have a fouling problem and the Spurs, unsurprisingly, shoot the 4th best percentage in the league from the free throw line at nearly 80%. the Hustle will need to play smart defense to defeat this Spurs team.

Game 20 Preview: The Hustle will travel to play the Sioux Falls SkyForce on Christmas day as they look to avenge their opening day loss. Defense will be a huge factor once again for the Hustle, as the SkyForce have 3 players who average more than 15 points a game lead by Torrey Craig’s 25.2 per game. The SkyForce are also a very good passing team as they are top 5 in the league in assists per game. This means the Hustle defense can’t get caught ball watching and must stick to their man. This game has the potential to be a little sloppy since it’s on Christmas Day, so the Coach Cyp needs to make sure the team is mentally prepared.

Game 21 Preview: The Hustle will wrap up their week with the first game of a back-to-back against the not very good Salt Lake City Stars. The Stars were the Hustle’s first ever franchise victory, but the Stars were able to get revenge in November as they defeated the Hustle inside FedExForum. Fortunately for the Hustle they match up well with the Stars. The Stars are the worst team in the league at rebounding while the Hustle are .1 rebounds per game away from being top 5. As long as the Hustle can slow down Eric Griffin and Naz Mitrou-Long (combined 52 points last match-up), they should be able to dominate the rebounding battle and run away with a victory.

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