Both MML squads took to Livonia last weekend to compete in the Warrior Jam Fest. First, let me say that in all my years of doing this, I have never experienced a check in so smooth, especially with a tournament that gave out t-shirts! That said, it was about the basketball and the experience for the guys. The weekend recap is as follows:
The short-handed white squad took to the court Friday night against the Oakland County Ballers. After a bit of a slow start, Devon Williams sparked a run to put the team ahead in the first half. Perhaps after running out of steam, the turnovers started to mount and we let OCB back into the contest and eventually allowed them to pull ahead. Tyrone Bradley had a spring high of ten points for the team, but the points given up off of turnovers really offset the positive effort. I believe the total was around 25 for just the second half! It is difficult to win any game with those numbers and the team fell 47-38. In the second game against the host Michigan Warriors squad, the turnover waterfall continued and led to a heavy defeat 65-28. The tournament ended with a wild game against the ASAP Blazers. The game got out of control early with officiating being less than stellar in both directions. Unfortunately, what that leads to is the more aggressive team gaining a competitive advantage. In addition, it leads to the officials trying to regain control by over exaggerating the whistles in a game they allowed to get that way. Frustratingly for all, White lost a tough, hard fought battle by 13.
– Williams continues to be a source of energy for the squad, but that same energy can become detrimental if not controlled. That is the next step for a player I believe has some tools to be successful.
– Being down two potential starters, the White squad showed some real promise in this tournament. With additions Isaiah Franklin and Caleb Barkman from the Blue team moving forward, things should trend in a positive direction.
– Emotions have to be reigned in guys. I saw pouting, laziness on defense, some giving up near the end of games, etc. We want to always channel our emotions for our use in a positive manner; however, we never want to be governed by them. That is a lesson that MUST be learned.
Speaking of being shorthanded, the blue team was without its two leading scorers for Friday night’s contest versus friend of the program, Parallel 45. The 7 players that were there came out with the defensive effort of the spring. They spent every bit of energy they had during the game and really jumped on P45 and likely surprised them with great rebounding as well. Tyler Rose led the way with 17 points and impressive hustle. BJ Sims had his best game as a Laker with 14 points and good rebounding. Austin Harless directed the group and pitched in 11. Thomas Cook hit 8 and Savionn Boone 6 in the 59-41 win. The second game saw the return of the two missing starters, but the loss of our discipline on the court. The result was a turnover-filled 62-53 loss in a game that should have been won. Despite missing at least 15 layups, we held the game close throughout, which proved to be important in tie-breakers later. Trevor Bland had 13, Ricky Holmes III 12, Harless 8, and Rose 6 in the loss. The final pool game proved to be the most exciting and best win of the spring so far versus a much bigger Moneyball East team. This game literally came down to the wire with us battling foul trouble and having to adjust on the fly to defense we had never played to that point. They had no answer for Holmes’ driving to the basket and dishing to shooters on the wing. As a team, we knocked down 8 three-pointers with Rose hitting 5 of those in his 19 point outburst. Holmes III chipped in 14, Bland 9, Cook 6, and Harless 5 in a 63-62 nail-biter that moved us into a tie for 1st place in the pool. In the gold bracket contest that evening, we faced the team that is becoming our nemesis, Common Bond. A back and forth 1st half where tempo was up-and-down left us only behind on the scoreboard by 4 at the half. However, much like the white team, fatigue equaled turnovers and missed easy shots in the second half. A close game quickly became a blowout in our 61-38 loss. Holmes II dropped in 14 and Harless 12 on four three pointers in the loss.
– Rose stepped up big in perhaps playing his two biggest games as a Laker in this tournament. Now more is expected and required.
– Our turnover situation must change…period. There is no excuse for the amount we have currently.
– We finally beat a team that I feel was better than us in terms of talent in Moneyball East. That is a huge step in the right direction for the team.
– When we have Holmes driving and dishing the way he did versus Moneyball, we will be difficult to stop. When we worry about our own statistics, teams will take advantage of us.
Well, off to Lansing and the Moneyball Shootout!