Sioux Falls is off and running in the 2023-24 NBA G League Regular Season and things couldn’t have got off to a quicker start thanks to some huge performances from several different players on the roster.
“It feels great to be 9-0,” said ManMan Williams “the locker room is great, great group of people.”
Coming off an up and down 8-8 record in the Showcase Cup, the Force responded by sweeping the Santa Cruz Warriors in a two-game road trip before returning home to sweep the G League Ignite in a two-game series to move to 4-0.
“We had a rough time going in the Showcase,” said Force Center Malik Williams “After the Showcase we got a chance to take a break, regroup, see family and friends, and then we came back ready to go and it feels great.”
After sweeping the G League Ignite at the Sanford Pentagon, the Skyforce hit the road to take on the Birmingham Squadron.
Miami Heat big man Orlando Robinson was with the Force on assignment and he certainly made his mark on this game. Orlando led the Force to a 121-116 win by recording 41 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks while shooting 63.6% from the field and 60% from three.
When the Skyforce returned to Sioux Falls to take on the Salt Lake City Stars just two days after Orlando’s big performance, Alondes “ManMan” Williams made history by scoring 55 points in a 26-point come from behind 138-131 win for Sioux Falls. ManMan’s 55 points set the new franchise record for the Skyforce, passing Scotty Hopson’s mark of 52 points in the 2015 season, as well as Head Coach Kasib Powell’s Skyforce record of 46 points.
“Yeah, I thought about it for a second, nah I’m kidding” joked Head Coach Kasib Powell when asked about subbing ManMan out to keep him from passing Powell's mark of 46 points, “It was exciting to see him be able to pass my mark and set the franchise record. I like when guys are able to beat records and do great things like that that are a part of history so I’m happy for him and it couldn’t go to a better guy.”
Alondes had a lot of respect for those that came before him, saying “It felt great just knowing that other legends including my coach, that I’m in that elite family, it’s amazing to me.”
In that same game against the Stars, Skyforce two-way player Cole Swider put together an incredible performance as well, recording 37 points and 12 rebounds on 68.8% from the field and 63.6% from three with seven made threes.
“Obviously he’s a great shooter but I think one of the things about that performance is he had 12 rebounds,” said Kasib Powell speaking about Cole Swider “Seeing him do other things besides just being a shooter to elevate and expand his game is something we look forward to doing. He’s been great with us, and we look forward to having him in the games he’s here.”
Immediately after taking on the Stars the Skyforce traveled to Memphis to play in its third different city in a five-day stretch. The Force were unfazed and collected another win to reach 7-0. Malik Williams was awesome for the Skyforce in this game setting new career-highs in points, rebounds and assists, with 26 points, 18 rebounds and 4 assists.
Malik was motivated to put the league on notice, saying “I feel like the first half they didn’t really respect my game, so I wanted to let them know and let everybody else in the league know that you have to.”
“Just coming in and being ready, stepping up to the opportunity that was given to me and playing my game.” Malik said about his career-night “It was a special game because my mom did travel three hours to come see me play and she brought me some brownies, so it was kind of a little extra for her.”
Malik being just one of many big performers for the Force early in the regular season, I asked him how Coach Powell and his staff brings the best out of his players.
“KP is one of the best coaches I’ve been around just because of the energy that he brings and the fact that he played the game and was very successful playing the game. He understands what we need to do and everything that it takes on a daily basis and as a coach you got to see that side of it. Everybody else follows suit of what KP brings, they bring energy, and they bring knowledge and wisdom of the game.”
The Force then returned to Sioux Falls to take on the previously unbeaten Austin Spurs in a clash for the top spot in the Western Conference. The first game of the two-game back-to-back went the way of the Force behind 28 points from Alondes Williams, 27 points and 15 rebounds from Justin Champagnie, and 22 points from Cole Swider.
Game two of the series was led by an impressive performance from Justin Champagnie who had 25 points at halftime, finishing with a season-high 36 points on five made three-pointers.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce are rolling, the team does well playing together and keeping the right mindset throughout the ups and downs of a game.
“The vibe in the locker room is tremendous and I think that’s part of our success on the court because we really connect in that locker room” said Malik Williams.
Coach Kasib Powell knows the team is hot right now but knows the jobs not close to finished, saying “It feels good. We’ve really had a one game mentality and we look forward to keeping that same mentality. Even though we’re 9-0 and we feel good about it, we know there’s still work to be done and we look forward to the challenges ahead.”