Perley’s Press Pass: Greensboro Swarm Set for Season Opener in Erie

by Sam Perley

The fourth season of Greensboro Swarm basketball officially gets underway on Saturday night as the Charlotte Hornets’ G League affiliate kicks off its 2019-20 campaign with a visit to the Erie BayHawks beginning at 7 PM EST.

Greensboro is coming off a 24-26 season, narrowly missing out on the postseason by just two spots with an eighth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Head Coach Joe Wolf, an 11-year NBA veteran with numerous professional, collegiate and international coaching stops – is back for his second year with the organization.

F Robert Franks and G Kobi Simmons – both two-way signees – will spend a maximum of 45 days at the NBA level and the rest of the season in Greensboro. Hornets F Jalen McDaniels has already been assigned to Greensboro, joining C Thomas Welsh, G Josh Perkins and G Joe Chealey, all of whom were at Hornets training camp. Having spent time in the system, these players will have a big role in familiarizing others with on-court terminology and leadership.

“Being down here in the G League and being a two-way guy, I think it’s important to show that you’re capable of leading a team,” Franks said. Welsh added, “What’s been good is we’re running all the similar things [as we did in training camp]. It’s all the same stuff the Hornets are using, so that’ll make it an easy transition.”

“The interesting thing when we start Swarm training camp with the Exhibit 10 guys and two-way guys is that for the most part, they haven’t gotten a lot of run lately,” Wolf added. “They are ready to go, compete and get on the court. It’s fun when you finally get the whole camp on the same page and can play some scrimmages.”

Greensboro traded for G Joel Berry II, a starter on North Carolina’s 2017 National Championship team. G John Dawson and G Tyler Nelson will return for another season, joining newcomers in G Mike Davis Jr. (Queens University), F Donte Ingram (G League’s Texas Legends), F Max Montana (Hamburg Towers; Germany) and F Demajeo Wiggins (Bowling Green University).

With the exception of Franks and Simmons, all Swarm players are eligible to be signed by any of the other 29 NBA teams once 10-day contracts are allowed in January. Unsurprisingly, there are situations where G League players do whatever they can to get noticed, even if it sometimes goes against what’s best for their team. It’s a tricky dynamic to navigate for a head coach, but one that can be alleviated with a whole bunch of W’s, says Berry.

“I love winning championships. I love winning no matter what, regardless of my stats,” the former Third-Team All-American stated. “Winning always solves everything. If we’re winning, everybody gets a chance to be able to get looked at. We’ll go in and try and win as many games as we can and I think that’ll just take care of everything else.”

Hornets Head Coach James Borrego stated during the preseason that the franchise would continue utilizing the G League more than ever. Dwayne Bacon and Devonte’ Graham took advantage of multiple assignments to Greensboro last year, showing vast improvements down the stretch and already at the start of this season. McDaniels and the Martin twins could be on a similar plan throughout their rookie campaigns, both for games and practices.

After the season opener, the Swarm will play another road game against the Delaware Blue Coats on Monday, Nov. 11 before an 11 AM EST matinee back in Greensboro against the Westchester Knicks on Wednesday, Nov 13. Games are streamed throughout the season on a variety of platforms including Facebook Live, ESPN+, ESPNU, NBATV and Twitch.


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