The offseason has been an on season for Butte Daredevils head coach Pat O’Herron.
He has spent the spring guiding a United States Basketball League contender well enough to be nominated for league Coach-of-the-Year honors, trying to keep sight of Daredevils players from the 2006-07 Continental Basketball Associaton season and preparing for the next campaign.
The contract situation in professional minor league basketball allows for O’Herron, now a Butte resident, to coach the USBL summer league Albany (N.Y.) Patroons, carrying the same name the New York club uses in winter CBA play. The same owner, Ben Fernandez, and general manager, Jim Coyne, run the club. Coyne, though, was recently named commissioner of the CBA.
The Patroons have won 13 of their last 15 games to trail only the Dodge City (Kan.) Legend in the league standings with only a June 25 game with the Oklahoma Storm in Enid, Okla., left on the regular-season schedule season. The Storm are coached by a man named Roy Rogers. The regular season and the postseason tournament will be done by the end of the month. Albany is 16-7, just a game off the 15-6 pace of the Legend.
“It’s been good for me back there making contact with agents,” O’Herron, in Butte to visit his family and catch up on some Daredevils work, said Wednesday in his office at the Butte Civic Center. “That’s where you get good players. The summer has been very beneficial for our organization — making contacts with good agents and building rapport with good players.
“And they’ve said they’ve heard good things about me. Hopefully, things will get better and better.” O’Herron pointed out that the three USBL leading teams are the ones with more CBA-experienced players. He has five on the Patroons, including Daredevils point guard Ron Ross. O’Herron said the Legend are carrying eight CBA vets, one of which is recent Daredevil John Millsap, and the third-place Gary (Ind.) Steelheads have 11. Daredevil leaper Anthony Richardson is playing a starring role with the Kansas Cagerz, based in See O’HERRON, Page B6 Salina, Kan. O’Herron said David Bell, Butte’s main 3-point artist last winter, began the spring league with the Legend, but has since left the club, “for personal reasons.” Other teams in the league are the Brooklyn Kings, and Delaware/Long Island Primetime.
“There’s definitely a lot of talent floating around the USBL,” O’Herron said. “And I’m proud of the fact we’ve made only four (roster) changes in the year. We’re not as talented as some teams, but we play very well as a team and that’s helped us win a lot close games down the stretch.” Ross is a finalist for USBL Most Valuable Player, O’Herron said, and also for Defensive Player of the Year. Final voting is taking place. Richardson is also an MVP nominee, the coach said.
Statistically, Richardson leads USBL scorers with a 19.4 points-per-game average, ranks fifth in steals with 1.6 a game and fifth in blocks with 1.5. His 35 points in one game ranks second only to 37 registered by Ross for single-game high this season. Ross is fourth in the USBL in scoring with 17.2 points a game, leads in steals with 2.6, is sixth in assists with 4.2 and seventh in free throw percentage at 88 percent.
Ross’ six steals in one game is a league high.
Bell’s six 3-point baskets in a game also tops the USBL and he stood fourth in 3-point shooting percentage with a 47.5 success ratio.
Popular Daredevil center Nick VanderLaan is playing summer ball in Spain, O’Herron said. VanderLaan took a turn with the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Development League team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, after the CBA season ended. The coach added that VanderLaan, Richardson and Ross are all drawing attention from Natinal Basketball Association scouts. The three might win spots on NBA Summer League rosters later this offseason, he said.
“I am happy for my players contributing to their teams,” O’Herron said. “Their coaches seem to like them. They say they’re very professional, are good guys and work hard.
“Nick’s happy and doing well.” O’Herron said that as far as he knows the other members of the first Daredevils team are home with their families. Odell Bradley, the coach said, has his own landscaping business that he is operating this summer.
Whether any will be back with the Daredevils for the coming season is yet to be seen. O’Herron said it won’t be until September or October that he will have an idea about possible returnees.
He said he became the Albany coach just three days before the start of the USBL season.
“I was in Virginia scouting,” he said, “when I got the call.” USBL awards finalists follow: Most Valuable Player — Ronald Ross, Albany Patroons; Anthony Richardson, Kansas Cagerz; and Chris Sockwell, Dodge City Legend.
Defensive Player of the Year — Jamar Howard, Dodge City Legend; Deng Gai, Albany Patroons; and Ronald Ross, Albany Patroons.
Coach of the Year — Dale Osbourne, Dodge City Legend; Patrick O’Herron, Albany Patroons; and Cliff Levingston, Gary Steelheads.
Sixth Man of the Year — Kareem Reid, Albany Patroons; Elvin Mims, Dodge City Legend; and Brendan Plavich, Kansas Cagerz.