Stampede don't have to wait for first win

It’s a ‘new year, new result’ for Idaho after the Stampede lost their first six games last year.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comNovember 23, 2013 

Idaho’s Pierre Jackson shot just 7-of-19 from the field, but made 12-of-14 free throws.

OTTO KITSINGER — Courtesy Idaho Stampede/NBAE

— A year ago, the Idaho Stampede didn’t get to enjoy a win until seven games into their season.

Coach Michael Peck won’t have to wait that long for his first win in his second season with the team.

Guard Pierre Jackson scored a game-high 29 points as the Stampede defeated the Bakersfield Jam 121-113 in the season opener for both teams Friday night at CenturyLink Arena.

“Honestly, I told a few close friends before the game, ‘I don’t know,’ ’’ Peck said. “I really didn’t know how we were going to do. … But our guys got locked in and dialed in and they brought it.”

Peck learned his first lesson about his team Friday night. Lesson No. 2 comes Saturday night as Idaho hosts Bakersfield again.

“You get baptized fast in this league,” he said. “Our next immediate challenge is how we bounce back. … (The Jam) are going to try to punch us in the mouth right out of the gate, and how we respond is going to say a lot about us.”

Win or lose, Peck is likely to feel better after two games than he did last season, when Idaho stumbled out of the gates with a 1-12 record. The theme in many of those games was the lack of a physical presence inside as big man Dallas Lauderdale watched courtside in street clothes.

After one game, it’s safe to say that the Stampede are better off when Lauderdale is in uniform.

“New year, new result,” the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Lauderdale said. “Last year, I took the whole year off (with a foot injury), and it wasn’t fun. I’m just grateful to be out there.”

Lauderdale is one of two players on the roster, along with veteran Jason Ellis of Boise State, who was on hand to witness Idaho’s slow start. So he knows the importance of the first victory.

“It’s big,” he said. “It’s big for the people who know what happened last year, the fans, me and coach Peck. And like I said, it’s a new team, a new result and a new year.”

Lauderdale said Friday was the first game he played that mattered since he played in a pro game in Poland two years ago. He went 5-for-5 from the field and finished with 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 28 minutes.

Idaho got balanced scoring, as seven players finished in double figures, but a couple of players made bigger impacts in the opener.

• Reggie Hearn (15 points) hit a couple of big 3-pointers in the third quarter that seemed to swing the momentum in Idaho’s favor for good.

“He’s strong, he’s smart and he plays hard,” Peck said.

• Forward Richard Howell went 8-for-10 from the field and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter before finishing with a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds).

“That’s huge,” Peck said. “He has great hands, he’s mobile and he can rebound out of his area.”

Add it all up, with the guard play of Jackson and Dee Bost (17 points, nine assists) and Idaho might just be on to something.

“We have some of the best guards in the league,” Lauderdale said. “They can get anywhere they want to get on the court.”

NOTE: Idaho forward Kellen Thornton missed the game after leaving Thursday’s practice because he felt light-headed and dizzy. Peck said the team wanted the Portland Trail Blazers to clear Thornton before he plays again. Portland is Idaho’s NBA affiliate.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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