Tag Archives: 2015

Thunder Inconsistent, Lose to KISS 52-40

ANAHEIM – Thunder WR/KR Duane Brooks returned two consecutive third quarter kickoffs for touchdowns, and added two more scores receiving, but his input was not enough to help Portland overcome a number of unforced errors, as they fell to the LA KISS in front of 7,345 fans at the Honda Center Sunday afternoon in Anaheim.

The win for the KISS (1-9, 0-4) is their first of the 2015 AFL season, and their first over the Thunder (3-7, 1-2) in their last four tries.

“We have got to talk about the things that we need to do better,” Head Coach Mike Hohensee said following the loss. “You can’t jump offside on 4th down. You can’t drop interceptions.”

The Thunder were penalized 13 times, for 141 yards in the loss, including three defensive penalties in 3rd or 4th-and-Long situations, extending KISS drives that were eventually converted for scores.

“The majority of those were on defense,” Hohensee added, in regards to the penalties. “We’d get a sack, but take a penalty. That stuff takes the ball out of our hands. It seemed to happen over and over again. We have to play smarter than that.”

Brooks returned five kicks for 198 yards, averaging 39.6 yards per return, while breaking two returns for scores, the first a 57-yarder at the 6:03 mark of the 3rd Quarter, and the second, a 58-yarder just over three minutes later.

“I can only attribute these (runbacks) to the guys in front of me,” Brooks stated. “I let my eyes guide my feet, and I take what our blocking gives me. After that, I just try to make guys miss, and get in the end-zone.”

Duane added five receptions for 54 yards, totaling a game high of 252 yards, all-purpose.

A one yard touchdown rush in the dying seconds of the first half from KISS receiver DeMarco Sampson proved the only difference between the sides through the first two frames. The KISS, receiving the second half kick, were stymied by the Thunder defense, forcing Los Angeles to settle for a FG on their first possession of third.

Portland was unable to score on its next possession, turning the ball over on downs following a failed pitch out to FB John Martinez on a 4th-and-2 play, providing the KISS with an opportunity to balloon their lead to three scores. Los Angeles did just that one play later, as KISS QB Adrian McPherson hit former Thunder receiver Jeffrey Solomon for a 37 yard touchdown, providing a 18 point cushion that Portland would not be able to overcome.

McPherson threw 5 touchdowns on his return from injury, including three to WR Donovan Morgan. The former Florida State standout ended the evening completing 18 of his 33 passes, for 240 yards. Morgan caught seven balls from McPherson, totaling 98 yards.

Portland QB Kyle Rowley was given the start over back-up Alex Carder, despite being substituted for Carder midway through the third quarter of the Thunder’s loss to San Jose last week. Rowley finished the game 22 of 32 passing, for 233 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Thunder return home to the Moda Center this Friday, June 12th, as they take on the 3-Time Defending ArenaBowl Champion Arizona Rattlers. Kickoff is set for 7pm.

A requiem for Russell “Bodie” Westbrook’s 2015 season

As foretold in the prophetic HBO series The Wire, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended exactly as we should have expected, with the Thunder missing out on the playoffs. In fact, this entire NBA season (especially post-All Star Break) was described in Season 4.

The key to the interpretation is Russell Westbrook – I’m far from the only person to associate him with Bodie every time I see him. Not only does he look similar to J. D. Williams as he played Preston “Bodie” Broadus throughout the series, but he plays basketball exactly like Bodie approached the Baltimore streets.

The criticism of Westbrook is that he doesn’t always have the big picture in mind. He doesn’t have perhaps the gift of organization and always doing the right thing that will do the most good. However, he shows up every day. He’s extremely loyal. He’s always going out to do his best in the way he sees as best. When he doesn’t respect D’Angelo, he doesn’t do what he says and does what he thinks is right. When Westbrook maybe isn’t running what Scott Brooks draws up, he’s doing the exact same thing. And maybe Westbrook is the one who’s right after all.

Let’s look at how Season 4 played out for Bodie vs. how the 2014-15 season played out for Westbrook and the Thunder.

The Wire, Season 4: The Barksdale crew has been all but destroyed. Avon is gone (others online have gone so far as to say Kevin Durant resembles Avon; I don’t see it much, but he was the kingpin and Durant, similarly, was the league MVP). Everyone but Bodie, Poot, and Slim Charles is dead, in prison, or otherwise out of the game. Continue reading A requiem for Russell “Bodie” Westbrook’s 2015 season

Breaking down the #AFLTop50

I have a new infographic up at ArenaFan, this time going into the player-selected top 50 players in the AFL that the league provided this offseason.

All in all, the list had a definite winners’ bias – with 11 defensive backs selected, three top-ten interception guys somehow didn’t make the list – Cameron McGlenn of the New Orleans Voodoo, who was fifth in the league with 11 interceptions, and Eric Crocker and Varmah Sonie of the Portland Thunder with 10 and 9, respectively. Sonie also forced three fumbles, but it wasn’t enough to get him on the list

They also didn’t care much about offensive linemen, as only two, Richard Ranglin and Michael Huey, managed to crack the top 50, the only position for which I couldn’t make a full first-team squad out of the votes.

The below graph shows that San Jose has amassed more Top 25 players than any other division has for 2015. If any team seems to have the talent edge coming into the season, it’s them. Position breakdowns, the color key, and more data are found on the graphic over at ArenaFan. Check back later this week for a Thunder breakdown!

(Data accurate as of 3/21/15)

This is where the top 25 players in the league are, by team. In each division, there is one team with no players in the top 25 - Las Vegas, Portland, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.
This is where the top 25 players in the league are, by team. In each division, there is one team with no players in the top 25 – Las Vegas, Portland, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.

McDonough Adapts to New Role

Six of the 20 players who made the opening day roster of the Portland Thunder in 2014 are back and participating in camp in 2015. While other teams might lock those six into their spots and work on building the team around them, the Thunder are working on converting nose tackle Jake McDonough into an offensive lineman.

The conversion works out for both sides, as McDonough seeks to show off his versatility for “a few NFL teams” who are interested in him as an offensive line prospect. The Thunder, meanwhile, expect to be without stalwart guard Max Jean-Gilles for a while as he recovers from an injury he sustained late in the 2014 campaign, and would love nothing more than to have a guy on the roster who can play both offensive line and defensive line at a high level.

The idea of McDonough becoming an offensive lineman was born of necessity. Continue reading McDonough Adapts to New Role