In a state where basketball is king, we are welcoming a new team into the fold. The Greensboro Swarm, an affiliate of the NBA Charlotte Hornets, are the first NBA Developmental League team in North Carolina since the Fayetteville Patriots folded after the 2005-2006 season.
The announcement of a development team was made 18 months ago and much was done to assure that Greensboro would get the team. Greensboro’s top notch facilities and the short drive to Charlotte made our city the ideal location and it was selected over other cities like Wilmington, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. The team is playing in the newly renovated and dubbed fieldhouse which is part of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The venue is 30,000 square feet of space and can seat up to 2,400 people. All 2,400 seats were filled for opening night.
Excitement is high in a city that is hungry for more basketball. Several people in the crowd Saturday night voiced how excited they were to finally have a team in Greensboro. Others in the crowd voiced how excited they were to be able to see some of the players they loved from college. One such fan in attendance by the name of Prince D. stated that “I see potential in the players and really think they can really contribute to the Hornets”. This year’s roster features former Duke standout Rasheed Sulaimon, former Virginia standout Mike Tobey, and former North Carolina State starter Ralston Turner among others. The entire culture of the team is set up so that any player will be able to contribute to the Hornets if they get the call. Swarm coach Noel Gillespie, former assistant coach of the Denver Nuggets, made it his policy to run the same system in Greensboro as the team’s NBA affiliate in Charlotte.
The Hornets also have stated plans to take advantage of the developmental team model by sending players such as former Kentucky standout Aaron Harrison and Christian Wood to Greensboro in order to ensure they get the playing time needed to develop. The first game of the season pitted the Greensboro Swarm against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Unfortunately, the Swarm started off the game rather flat. By the break at half, the Swarm were down 37-79. Even with this large deficit, the Swarm came out swinging in the second half. They opened the second half with a 22-9 run and even managed to cut the lead down to 16 points towards the end of the fourth quarter. The Swarm managed to outscore the Mad Ants 62-41 in the second half, however, the first half deficit was too much to overcome. Overall, there was several strong individual performances. Center Mike Tobey finished the game with first double-double in Swarm history with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Other standouts included Damien Wilkins with 16 points, Prince Williams who shot 66 percent from beyond the arc and who had 16 points, and Rasheed Sulaimon who finished with 15 points.
Even though the first game did not end how many people wanted, there are still high expectations moving forward. The team tonight showed great resilience with their nonstop motor in the second half. The team will surely improve moving forward as they settle into the system and mesh together. Other things to look forward to are the inevitable reinforcement from the players who are shuttled between Charlotte and Greensboro. The franchise may be young, but there will always be a place for basketball in North Carolina. The Swarm is buzzing and they have taken up residence in Greensboro.