Will Conroy Looks To Crown His NBA D-League Career
by Matthew Brennan, NBA D-League.com
Tulsa, April 25, 2010: Rio Grande Valley Vipers guard Will Conroy has accomplished just about everything there is to be accomplished in the NBA D-League. One of the league's all-time leaders in scoring, assists, and triple-doubles, Conroy has played in All-Star games and earned multiple GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA, including two this season to the Houston Rockets. The one aspect missing from his resume is team success, with Conroy never playing in the NBA D-League postseason until this year with the Vipers.
So far he is making his first playoff berth a memorable one, capped off with Sunday's Finals Game One performance of 14 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists. The win puts Conroy and the Vipers one game away from an NBA D-League championship. The former Washington star feels that an NBA D-League title would be the ideal way to cap off his tenure in the NBA D-League.
"Winning a title would definitely put a crown on this thing, and close a chapter in my situation", said Conroy. "Hopefully it can springboard me to a solid foundation at getting a spot in the NBA."
"I feel like we played well in spurts,"said Conroy of Sunday's 124-107 win over the Tulsa 66ers where he recorded his fifth triple-double of the year and also set a new season-high 16 rebounds. "We got them to take long shots, so we could rebound and get in transition which was very beneficial. When we zoned up in defense it helped us out a lot. I just kind of went and stuck to the game plan. A couple guys were bugging me and saying I hadn't gotten a triple-double in a while, so they told me I couldn't get one. I went out and hit the boards, I already knew I was going to get assists, but I wanted to hit the glass."
Conroy, who has spent time in the NBA D-League with Tulsa and Albuquerque, set an NBA D-League record for points in a season in 2008-09 with 1,300. Despite the gaudy numbers, he did not get a GATORADE Call-Up during the season. After not making the Rockets roster in fall of 2009 and heading overseas, he elected to return to the NBA D-League and was traded to the Vipers. The situation in Rio Grande Valley was a natural fit for Conroy with their ties to the Rockets and talented cast of players that could take advantage of his play-making ability. Two call-ups to Houston later, Conroy feels that the move to Rio Grande Valley has been a very good choice.
"I think it's been very positive for me," said Conroy. "Last year I was put in a situation where I had to score a lot, and I think scouts and GMs were saying he's scoring too much. It was a situation where I didn't want to score, but I had to in order for us to be able to win. This year I'm playing with a lot of guys who can finish and make plays, I have a lesser role to score, but the same role to make plays. I can focus on doing what I do best, getting guys the ball and get the game going up and down."
After setting an NBA D-League record with ten GATORADE Call-Ups, the Vipers have plenty of star power in the Finals with NBA experienced players like Conroy, Mike Harris, and Antonio Anderson. Although all played well in the Game One win, the Vipers showed that there are plenty of other names on the roster that can step up and carry the team to victory with big contributions from Julian Sensely, Craig Winder, Ernest Scott, and Rich Melzer. Conroy gave credit to the constant roster turnover that always led to anyone on the roster having to be prepared for their chance.
"I think that's a testament to the kind of team we've had," said Conroy. "Guy have been going up and down all season long with the call-ups, so some of the other guys on the team were itching to play and get their chance. When guys get sent back to us, guys who were starring had to go back to the bench and stay ready to play. Our practices are really competitive so guys on our team are always ready."
Once the NBA D-League is complete later this week, hopefully with a Finals win under his belt, Conroy is not sure about his specific plans but will approach the 2010-11 campaign with the same goal as before. Making an NBA roster out of training camp is what's on his mind after another stellar NBA D-League season.
"I'm not sure about Summer League, because it's more of a young guy's place, said Conroy. "You can get caught in a situation where your teams drafts a guard and you end up sitting the bench. A lot of teams know what I can do now, and last year I had about four or five offers to go to training camp as that third veteran point guard, and I chose to go with Houston. Hopefully I will have as many options this year."