This past Sunday the Rangers hosted the Chicago Fury in their first meeting of the season. Last season these two teams were neck and neck up to the playoffs and it was more of the same over the weekend. Both teams were put through their paces on both ends of the court as they headed into halftime tied 50-50. Things began to look grim for the Rangers in the third quarter as the Fury backcourt began slashing their way to the bucket seemingly at will. The Rangers maintained the course however and seemed to find their footing again in the fourth quarter putting the Fury down with a final score of 121-117. The Rangers move to 5-0 and the Fury drop to 1-3 after the contest.
(F) Tim Lott led the Rangers in points with 27 points and shooting 61% from the field as well as earning the double-double with 14 rebounds. His strong showing in the second half played a big role in helping put the Rangers back on track to the win. There were a couple more notable double-doubles from the squad as well with (C) Dominique Dawson [18 points / 10 rebounds], (G) Quinton Jackson [12 points / 10 assists], and (G) Ken Bass [11 points / 12 rebounds]. Jackson also managed to pick up 6 steals with some solid defense.
The Rangers have a unique matchup this week as they are headed out on a long trip to Muncie, Indiana to take on the Eastern Conference's Indiana Dream. This is one of two conference crossover games for the Rangers (The Springfield Panthers will be coming to Minnesota later this season). The Indiana Dream are currently sitting in the middle of the pack in the East at a record of 2-3. The Dream average 33.7 three-point shots per game which is enough for second in the league, however, they haven't been able to capitalize on them as they are currently tied for a league-worst 3 point shot percentage in the league at 26.7%. So long as they don't decide to suddenly get hot this weekend the Rangers should be able to worry a lot less about the outside shooting than they did this past week.
The other area where the dream stand out is their extremely low assist average of 9.3 assists per game which stands in strong contrast with the exceptional ball sharing of the Rangers (28.5 assists per game). Add in the high pressure defense that the Rangers have been using this season and the Dream could be in trouble as they are forced to either move the ball more often than they are used to, or take low percentage shots under the added pressure.
The Rangers are going into this game with an overwhelming league lead in rebounding at 65.7 boards per game. The offseason additions of (C) AJ Wilson and (F) Latrell Love to the front-court as well as the extreme bounce and extra effort of (G) Ken Bass has been paying off with plenty of second chance points for the Rangers. If the Rangers can find a way to get their shooting percentage back up to a level with the rest of the league they will be in an excellent position for when the reigning champion CourtKings roll into town the following week.
If the Rangers and CourtKings make it out of this weekend with wins we will be looking at one heck of a matchup on the 13th as the championship rematch comes loaded with the added bonus of deciding who owns sole possession of first place in the West.