Atlanta Hawks Talon GC Coach Acuff Wants Greater End-of-Game Execution From His Team

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus

The Atlanta Hawks Talon GC had a less-than-ideal restart to their regular season after being bounced in the first round of the TIP OFF Tournament. Atlanta’s team lost both of their games in a three-match series against the Golden State Warriors, with both games decided by the slimmest of margins. 


The first game, a 73-69 overtime loss, was an especially galling result for coach Wesley Acuff, whose team led by four with only a few moments left in regulation.

He was not thrilled with his team’s late-game execution, and felt they let a win slip away. 


“It was probably as hard as you could imagine. We gave that game away,” said coach Acuff. “You got to give credit to the Warriors, they really hung in there and stayed in the fight. But we were up by four points with 13 seconds left and we lost the game. So we just have to do better.” 


“We’ve just got to make better decisions. We lost focus in the last few seconds of the fourth quarter of game one, and that forced us to go to overtime and ultimately cost us the game. We shouldn’t have put ourselves in a position to have that turnover that allowed them to force overtime.”


One bright spot was Mykel “Kel” Wilson, who dropped a career-high 32 points in the first game. As is customary, Michael “BP” Diaz-Cruz paced Talon GC with 28 in the second game. The coach was not pleased with much about Monday’s games, but he was happy with the dynamic between the team’s top two scorers.


“BP is our main scorer, and Kel benefits from being able to pick up (the scoring load) based on how the defense adjusts to BP,” said coach Acuff. “He has great scoring abilities, so the difference from game one to game two is that BP changed archetypes from game one to game two. So you saw a lot more shooting from BP in game two since he was on a shooting build, and that kind of changes how many attempts Kel gets.” 


When asked about what the team needs to do in order to get another win, coach Acuff said the solution was simple. 


“We have to move the ball. We can’t stand still and we have to move it to the next open man,” said coach Acuff. “There was seven seconds left in the game, and instead of holding the ball in the backcourt, we have to make a quick decision and find the open man. If three people are guarding on person, that must mean two should be open.” 


Coach Acuff and company have a day to regroup before they play Utah’s squad. He said that the team needs to work on focusing at the end of the game, in order to avoid another meltdown like they experienced against the Warriors. When asked if getting odd animations was frustrating, coach Acuff said they were just part of the game.


“There’s nothing you can do,” said coach Acuff. “Sometimes you just press the button and the game gives you an animation that you’ve never seen or didn’t’ expect. You just got to move on from those plays and get on to the next play.” 


One player to keep an eye on during Tuesday’s matchup is Andrew “MRSTYLEZ” Valle, who has anchored the team’s defense in the early part of the season. 


“He is in a completely different position than last year, where he played a little point guard for us and a little lockdown defender for us,” said coach Acuff. “We now have him on a defensive role on a power forward, where his main responsibility is to play a lot of help defense and crash the glass. He has great defensive tendencies, so we put him in a space where he could freelance a little bit. Then on offense, to spot up and be a knockdown shooter.”


* * *


The Atlanta Hawks Talon Gaming Club is the Hawks' sponsored video gaming team. They represent Atlanta in NBA 2K video game tournaments and matches during the summer. These players are so good at video games that they get paid $40,000 a year to compete against other NBA team-sponsored video game teams to win. They play a regular season in addition to in-season tournaments where the winners get paid a substantial amount of money. 

There are six players on each roster, and they have to play a particular virtual role akin to real life basketball. So in the case of Talon GC, Michael Diaz-Cruz (known as "BP" as his nickname), is the point guard and the scorer. 


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