Albany, NY – As the buzzer sounds to end another weekend series for the Albany Legends players from each team congratulate one another. Press and Media come out and meander on the court as well as fans. While most players in the IBL play 4 quarters in a regulation game the Albany Legends play 5. But the 5th quarter isn’t reserved for slam dunks, 3 point shots or fast breaks. The 5th quarter is the time the Albany Legends spend after every game with their fans. Everyone from the players to the coaching staff and all the way to Front Office.
A connection to the fans has been important to every member of the roster. It also has helped connect the community to the players. While most players on a typical IBL roster have a collection of players from around the country and the world, the Legends boast a bevy of home-grown talent. One of those home-grown players is Albany Legends’ point guard Lloyd Johnson.
Johnson is having a great season for the Legends. He is 12th among the IBL League Leaders in scoring with 20.3 points per game this season. He is also 10th in the IBL in Assists per game with 4.6. Johnson is also one of the Legends’ deadliest 3 point marksmen. Proof positive that Lloyd Johnson has evolved into a prolific scorer and a player that can “step up”.
Heading into the 2011 IBL season the Legends’ were anxious to fill the void left by the departure of Kenny Saterfield who was the leading scorer for the 2010 Championship Legends team with 19.7 points per game. Not only did Johnson step up, he raised the bar. “I just wanted to bring experience and leadership this year. Seeing as how I was a member of this team last year and a big part of the Championship, I wanted to help the new guys out and show them the ropes a little bit.” said Johnson
The impressive factor is Johnson has been this productive while mostly being out of the starting lineup. The Legends have one of the deadliest 6th men in the league who is capable of sparking a run the instance he enters the game.
While bouncing in and out of the starting lineup may frustrate and hinder the performance of some player, Johnson has proven to be the exception. Johnson would say “In the beginning it was not about me it was about us trying to gel and trying to find ourselves. I know I can score but I wanted to become more of a leader on the court.”
While many describing Lloyd Johnson’s game would use words like “quick”, “efficient” and “consistent”, Johnson would describe his overall game in other terms; “Electric, quick, fast, game changer who can shoot the 3 and can play good defense.” It’s hard to disagree with any of those terms.
But while Johnson is continuously focused on the present he does take time to look to the future. “Hopefully I’d like to get a nice contract overseas and be able to help my family out better and myself,. That’s the dream.”
But while Johnson may long a chance to play overseas he has cherished being an Albany Legends and the opportunity to play in front of his hometown. “It’s beautiful. A lot of the kids, a lot of people around here look up to me. Playing in a Professional league just shows them that it can happen and hard work pays off.”
As the Legends walk off the court to the locker room and close out their home schedule next weekend, Johnson sees the impending long road trip as an important journey for the Albany team. “I think it will let us grow as a team and help us out a lot. Being on the road you have to be as one, you have to play together, you have to play with heart, it’s not about individuals on the road and I feel like we’re gellin now. I think we will be alright.”
Many fans in Albany would agree with Johnson. The Legends will be “alright” and some think that in a frantic International Division battle for 1st place the Legends will end up “alright” in the end.
How the Legends have grown as a team this season provides confidence that a trip to the IBL Championship game is about as sure as a Lloyd Johnson 3 pointer.
Johnson is just another prime example of why the IBL is such an exciting league to watch. From buzzer to buzzer you see tons of talent that certainly cannot be contained in the confines of a single basketball court. A passion, hunger and a dedication to one’s craft exudes from every player that is not often seen in other professional leagues that are plagued by millionaire contracts.
Need an example of why the IBL is “different”? Stick around for the “5th Quarter” of an Albany Legends‘ game. And for the first 4 quarters, keep an eye on #3. With his production and energy he would be impossible to miss.