NBLC Newcomers Week 12: Bland Leads Five to Longest Win Streak in Franchise History, Regains Top Spot

NBLC Newcomers Week 12: Bland Leads Five to Longest Win Streak in Franchise History, Regains Top Spot

Shooting guard continues to pace league in three-pointers made

By José Colorado

It appears all Jaylen Bland needed was a little break.

For nearly a month the Sudbury Five member struggled with a lower body injury as he popped in and out of the line up with minimal returns.

That resulted in the club shutting down the shooting guard on two separate three-game occasions as he recovered.

Since then however it's been smooth sailing as the six-foot-three scorer has played with a renewed exuberance on the floor, filling up the stat sheet in a variety of ways unlike before while also leading Sudbury to its first four-game win streak in franchise history.

For his efforts, he is rewarded with the top spot for the first time since week four.

1. Jaylen Bland (Sudbury Five, 13-13)
Hometown: Reseda, Calif.  
Previous professional experience:  Luxemburg, Mexico, U.S. (NBA G-League)   
Season stats:   20.6 points per game (38.3 per cent three-point shooting), 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists

The league's leading marksman took his long-distance show to the Kitchener Auditorium this past week and did not disappoint.

Connecting on 11-of-28 three-pointers (39.28 per cent), Bland continued to bomb away at a very efficient clip against the KW Titans in a pair of matches as he averaged 23.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

With the former G-Leaguer filling up the stat sheet and Sudbury splitting the series while notching a historic win streak in the process, the Californian put together one of his best all-around weeks of the year.

That, however, has been a continued trend as Bland has averaged 22.13 points per game, 6.25 rebounds, 2.63 assists and 2.25 steals – all above his season averages - in his eight games since returning from his most recent injury on Jan.12.

In other words it looks like the Five sharpshooter is here to stay at No.1 for the foreseeable future if he can keep this up.

2. Sampson Carter (Island Storm, 5-15)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Previous professional experience:  Portugal, Dominican Republic, U.S. (NBA), Mexico, Philippines
Season stats:   23.5 points per game (40.2 per cent field goal shooting), 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists

Sampson Carter snapped a four-game losing streak, tallied 23 points and dropped a NBLC career-high nine assists in a 115 -111 win against the Saint John Riptide this past week.

So what gives? Why the demotion?

Well, with the Island Storm being so exponentially behind the rest of his contemporaries on this leaderboard (exception Frank Bartley and the Riptide), it should say something when heaps of praise are given to the forward when his club actually wins a game rather than the result being somewhat expected.

Further, indeed Carter possesses a higher points per game average than Bland but with the former being permitted a league-high 19.9 attempts per outing, it should only be expected that he will put up slightly bigger numbers on a sinking ship.

And finally with Bland rounding out his game a bit more, it's only fair that Carter – at least momentarily – takes a back seat to a winning player with comparable numbers.

3. Cory Dixon (Sudbury Five, 13-13)
Hometown: Argyle, Texas
Previous professional experience:  Britain, Belgium
Season stats:  15.3 points per game (48.4 per cent field goal shooting), 8.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks

An off-shooting week slowed but couldn't completely stop Cory Dixon from contributing as he falls to No.3.

Hitting just 31.81 per cent from the floor will definitely do that to a player but the Texan was still able to put up his eighth double-double of the season while averaging 12 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in a pair of matches versus the Titans.

The down week could very well just boil down to a match up issue as the 205 pound forward has to deal with a number of large forwards in KW including Derek Hall, Flenard Whitfield and Justin Strings; Dixon has only averaged 12.16 points and 7.67 rebounds on 38 per cent shooting in six matches versus them this season.

Regardless, the six-foot-seven player has remained the defensive anchor for the Five as he recorded his third game with three blocked shots on Jan.31 – placing him seventh in the league in rejections.

He will have another crack at KW on Thursday.

4. Frank Bartley (Saint John Riptide, 7-16)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Previous professional experience:  True rookie
Season stats:  18.6 points per game (43.8 per cent field goal), five rebounds, 2.7 assists

A relentless mindset highlighted Frank Bartley's week 12 performances as the scoring dynamo made 14 free throws combined (out of a possible 15) against the Moncton Magic and Storm – the highest two-game production of his NBLC.

In many ways that helped to offset a poor shooting week in which the Riptide player went just 41 per cent from the floor and 23 per cent from long range.

Despite the difficulties finding the range, the American still managed to tally weekly averages of 21.5 points per game, four rebounds, three assists and 3.5 steals.

In particular the league's seventh leading scorer's versatility was on full display against the Magic when he nearly registered the rarified 'five-by-four' game - meaning at least five or above in four statistical categories, falling just one steal shy as he went for 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Indeed the Riptide remain woeful but Bartley has been superb throughout the campaign and if he can continue to ascend he could very well find himself on an All NBLC team by season's end.

5. Glen Davis (St. John's Edge, 13-8)
Hometown: Baton Rough, La.  
Previous professional experience:  NBA (Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, LA Clippers)   
Season stats:  14.3 points per game (48.2 per cent field goal shooting), 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists

Two games against the Halifax Hurricanes, two very different results for Glen Davis.

The former NBAer was held to a modest (by his standards) 14 points and eight rebounds on six-of-15 shooting in the first match-up against the club resulting in a 104-70 demolition and a league fine to 'Big Baby' for excessive criticism of league officials.

That built up anger found a different outlet in the rematch however as the NBA champion put forth his second 30-point outing of the season to go along with a season-high four blocks.

It also appears all that whining may have caught the zebras' attention as the Edge player went to the line a season-high 14 times, making 11, in the second outing.

So long as the former Celtic can continue to sustain his conditioning to the point where he can play extended minutes, he should continue to ascend; Davis averaged 16.5 points (51.2 per cent field goal shooting) and six rebounds in 26 minutes per outing in January in comparison to 11.3 point (43.4 per cent) and 5.3 boards in 17.2 minutes per contest in December.

Warming up the plane:
Joel Kindred (Halifax Hurricanes, 13-12)
14.6 points per game (43.3 per cent three-point shooting), 4.2 rebounds