Cameron McCaffrey got the start in his first International Basketball League appearance, but it was a familiar name that stole the show at Clark College on Saturday night.
Andre Murray catalyzed the Vancouver Volcanoes to a 140-126 win over the Salem Sabres.
Murray led the Volcanoes with 43 points and 11 assists, while McCaffrey had 16 points and 10 assists in his first game.
After only getting in two practices, McCaffrey hit the first shot of the game and the ball kept rolling for the Volcanoes offensively from there.
“(Cedale) Doyle was going to be late. Once I found out Doyle was late I started him (McCaffrey). He really sparked us in the first half,” said Volcanoes head coach Joe Navarro.
What was certainly noticeable with both McCaffrey and Murray on the floor was that defenses had trouble with multiple playmakers.
After losing four out of their last five and dealing with some midseason adversity, Saturday’s win could be a positive in building toward the future according to Navarro.
“A little adversity could be good for us in the long run,” Navarro had at their Tuesday practice.
The Volcanoes (7-4) began the season with championship aspirations and still have them despite their losing stretch.
Murray came into the game as the IBL’s leader in points, assists and steals and his dominant performances was more of the same. The former Portland State Viking masterfully picked his spots to pass and to score and was a tough cover for Salem all night.
Salem (1-4) started to slip away in the second quarter as Vancouver’s bench helped create some distance, but it was Murray’s dominant first half that made the difference.
He had 28 points and nine assists in the first half alone.
Off the bench, Dominque Watson provided a spark as the sixth man, bringing a couple of dunks and 33 points. Big man Calvin Hampton helped patrol the middle and provide a big target for Murray and McCaffery on offense, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Everything wasn’t easy for the Volcanoes, however.
Salem made several runs in the second half, led by Jeff Dunn who finished with 43 points and Vancouver went through their offensive droughts.
To close the game they went with Murray, Watson and McCaffrey in the backcourt and all three seemed to take control together to help put the game away.
“Dre and Dominique are real similar in that they are really high volume scorers but Cameron is really a facilitator at point guard,” said Navarro. “When teams let us go small like that on the wing we are really good.
After having a few players go down to injury, such as former Oregon guard Garrett Sim, the Volcanoes seem to have found a recipe for success by adding guard depth with McCaffrey with Hampton’s inside game.
But for Navarro it’s not the offense he’s worried about.
The key for him was the intensity on defense which has been a focus in the last week of practice. He thinks that the way they defended on Saturday and their improved focus is the key for a deep run and a chance to get the IBL title they crave.
They are also awaiting the return of the player Navarro thinks is their best offensive big man, Brian Morris.
“When we decided to play defense the way we did in spurts tonight we’re going to be good. Once we defend, get the ball inside and we’re going to be good,” Navarro said.