Its safe to say that Mike Peck didnt envision this start to the season when he accepted the position of head coach of the Idaho Stampede in September.
I didnt come into this job thinking we were going to go 46-2, Peck said. I was realistic about our expectations.
Peck knew he would be a part of a new coaching staff and a group of young players in the first season of Idahos single-affiliation agreement with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Despite all that, he didnt think his NBA Development League team would be 2-12 through 14 games. The Stampede got a bit of a lift with their 101-82 win over the Reno Bighorns on Saturday night at CenturyLink Arena, but its still a long way back to the .500 mark.
Here are five ways that the Stampede can turn their season around.
Idaho has played with a serious size disadvantage all season. That was never more evident than Wednesday night, when Maine Red Claws center Fab Melo dominated the Stampede with a 32-point game that included nine blocked shots. Idaho tried to guard the 7-foot, 275-pound Melo with a pair of 6-foot-8 forwards, Josh Owens and Sean Evans.
Solomon Alabi could help remedy this situation. The 7-foot-1 native of Nigeria signed with Idaho on Friday.
Im looking forward to his presence in the interior, not just defensively but offensively as well, Peck said. Hell be able to finish put-backs and dump-offs and stuff like that. He can alter shots and thats what a 7-footer needs to do for us, alter shots at the rim. When a 7-footer puts his arms up, that makes a difference.
Alabi played nearly 13 minutes Saturday and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
And theres another possibility to add to the teams size. Ohio State product Dallas Lauderdale was waived by Portland during training camp and was added to Idahos roster at the same time that Coby Karl and Justin Holiday joined the team.
Problem is, Lauderdale hasnt been able to play for the Stampede because of a foot injury.
Peck said Lauderdale was supposed to rejoin the team within a matter of days.
Well find out then whats the state of his foot and whats the time frame, Peck said. My anticipation is that hell be easing back into stuff upon his return here.
If Lauderdale can get healthy, he could provide a boost. Hes listed as 6-8, 255 pounds, but his wingspan has been described as freakish at 7-6.
Its the simplest answer to any basketball teams problems: Put the ball in the hoop more often and at a better rate.
But the fact of the matter is that the Stampede players have been coming up short in that area.
At the end of the day, theres been too many times where Ive turned to our staff and said, Thats just an open look. We have to make those, Peck said. When we get good looks guys have to make those. So thats one area where we have to put it on the players a little bit.
Peck said he put together some very specific numbers to make the point to his team.
I tracked over 10 games our starting three perimeter players versus our opponents starting three perimeter players, he said. We were shooting 38 (percent) from the field and 32 from the arc. Theirs were shooting 49 from the field and 43 from the arc. Those are numbers that have to change.
MAKE ROSTER MOVES
Its tough to say, but no players job should be secure on a 2-12 team.
Former Stampede coaches had the autonomy to pull the trigger on new players. Under the single-affiliation format, Portland is overseeing Idahos basketball operations.
So, its a new world, but not one that should stop Idaho from trying to get better.
And Peck knows that.
Portland has been great, Peck said. Theyve said, Mike, what do you need? If somebodys out there who can help us, then were going to do everything we can to get those pieces in place.
FIND AN IDENTITY
What are we? Peck has asked of his players.
His answer is what they need to become: a more efficient team that makes fewer mistakes.
What weve got to be, based on what we have, is a team that values every possession and eliminates the turnovers, Peck said. And No. 2, weve got to be precise in our half-court offense. Weve got to set good screens and weve got to use them properly. Weve got to be efficient in our movement.
Thats a hard thing to do when a team has had the start that the Stampede have had.
But recent history shows that the team can still right the ship and fight its way back into contention.
In the 2010-11 season, Idaho began 2-13 under first-year coach Randy Livingston.
By seasons end, Idaho had a 24-26 record and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker on the final night of the season.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424