Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:29

Wall Press Conference Outburst "Unacceptable"

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SACRAMENTO, CA - The roller coaster season of the Anaheim Archers continued in Sunday's game against the Sacramento Snipers.  The Archers, currently in a heated race for the American West conference with a surging Kansas City team.  Just a half game behind them are the defending champion Sun Kings on their heels the Indiana Invaders.  In a season where a half game here or there can mean home court seeding, every game counts and the Archers are suffering inexplicable and near total offensive collapses where they should be putting teams away.  


The first came in Las Vegas where a struggling Blackjacks team handed the team a blistering 41 point loss.  Reports of Archers players interacting with the Blackjack's best defensive trait - the Vegas nightlife - swirled.  The Archers seemed to only play about half of the first quarter and then completely fell apart as the opportunistic Blackjacks heaped on the punishment.  After the game, several players attended the press conference in sunglasses and one of the staff at the Las Vegas Convention Center even remarked to local news that he smelled liquor in the locker room after the game.  It's unknown if the team simply had too much Cher and nightlife but the game was punctuated by an aggravated James Wall who lead the game with eleven points after being pulled from the floor.  Overall, the Archer star only played 23 minutes.  Wall seemed visibly agitated as coach Bennett pulled the starters from the floor.  Wall, in the press conference afterwards was uncharacteristically sullen and kept his interactions with the press minimal.


The next came back at the Pacific Life Center as the Archers hosted a Thursday night game against the visiting Detroit Muscle.  The Muscle too were struggling coming to Anaheim and walked over an Archers team who had defeated the Honolulu Inferno in their house after the Archers had seem to recover from the debacle in Las Vegas.  This time, the Archers only managed two quarters of basketball and then had their doors blown off by the hot rods from Detroit.  The Muscle went on finish the game only 26 points ahead of the Archers.  Wall played a full game's worth this time but, as he came off the court, coach Bennett and he had an exchange that ended with coach Bennett heated and coach Byron Davis coming in between them to usher Wall to the bench.  After the game, Wall did not attend the required press conference and was fined by both the team and league.  Sportswriters close to the Archers report internal turmoil but don't seem to hit that Wall was the instigator of it.  With Long Foote out with a dislocated shoulder and Alain Lagon traded to Tampa Bay [who lead the conference], some speculate that the pressure of the entire offense on Wall is more than he can bear while others attribute the tension to the influx of new talent on the team which has a naturally disruptive effect on a team but doubly so on point guards.


It seems that the dam burst in Sacramento and whatever it was holding back came rushing out.  A normally relaxed Wall was visibly agitated during warm ups and he wore ear buds all the time.  During the game, he angrily waved teammate Alfredo Moss away and argued calls with referees... all uncharacteristic behavior for the two time all start and defensive standout.  Another dismantling by a team that the Archers "should have" been able to compete with and, yet again, another team that completely took them apart.  How could a team that handed looked like they could challenge for the Division at a minimum so completely fall apart in these games?  Questions began to circle around coach Bennett as rumor continues to swirl and the sideline exchange between Bennett and Wall, after Vegas, did nothing to quell rumors.  Wall was pulled from the game after playing only 23 minutes.  This of course was after Wall appeared to refuse to leave the court.  Onlookers report that Bennett's hand motions suggested a "come here" motion and Wall's wave off visibly angered Bennett.  For a few tense moments, the Archers had six men on the floor as play was set to resume.  Alfredo Moss looked confused as he was not sure if he should stay subbed in for Wall or if he should return to the sideline.  Every time Moss moved toward the sideline, Bennett angrily waved him back on to the floor.  Coach Davis came on to the floor and managed to collect Wall in time to avoid the technical foul but Wall spent the rest of the game with a towel over his head at the end of the bench away from the team.


At the press conference, Wall spoke with the press about the incident.  "We had a difference of opinion.  He [Bennett] though that I should come out of the game and I didn't agree.  Then you going to step to me with this 'I'm the coach' stuff tryin' to treat me like I'm some high school kid that you can just grab by the arm and take off the court?  That's unprofessional... you know?  I'm out there... I"m out there owning somebody like I was with Troy, you got to let that play out.  Maybe, if he'd done that with me... or Chris... or... or Frankie... or any of the rest of us in the starting unit, we could have come back.  Maybe, the problem was that we just needed to work our way through it.  Shooters sometimes have to do that  and I'd expect a coach as smart as Irwin [Bennett] is to understand that.  I mean, shooters gotta shoot through it sometimes.  You gonna try to pull me and get all red faced at me when I have an opinion?  I'm leaving my blood and sweat all over that court.  I lifted the cup on that floor and it's like they tryin' to treat me like that?  I'm not some rookie anymore.  Naw man.  You might think that the scoreboard was terrible but that right there.  That was the terrible part."


And that was it.  Wall left the mic and refused follow up questions from the assembled reporters.  Later GM Stelle was asked to comment on Wall's remarks and give his impression of events, "Certainly, we don't expect that from members of our staff or players who represent West Coast basketball on the court.  An inquiry is underway as we speak and I intend to have conversations with both the team and coaching staff about this and the direction the team is going.  Bottom line is, this not worthy of the faith that the city of Anaheim has placed in us."  When pressed by reporters, Stelle said, "I'm not taking sides in this matter.  I'm more of an neutral arbiter here but I also have to pull the focus from these issues and put it back on taking steps that will get this franchise back to the finals.  The present situation, if left to fester, will become unacceptable."

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