Sunday was an abbreviated afternoon at the Kenner League. After catching the 1st half of the WWC at The Tombs, I took in the 3:40 Kenner League Tomb's game and returned to the bar just in time to watch the penalty kicks, to my great shock since the last thing I heard walking out of McDonough was that the USA women won 2-1 in OT (h/t to FLHoya for the reminder). I wasn't alone in having the KL routine thrown by the WWC – the crowd for Tombs was the weakest since 4th of July weekend and it was mostly die hards, so I was one of the few who made the post-Tombs exodus.
The Tombs versus Moses Ayegba and Hoop Magic
Another slow, grinding game for The Tombs, who are working hard to try and play good team basketball, but the offense hasn't caught up with the defense. The intrigue to start the game was a match-up between Georgetown's back-up centers next year: Moses and Tyler Adams. Adams struck first, opening the game with an up and under lay-up, but it was Moses who drew first blood. Adams tried to stop a lay-up attempt by Moses on a fastbreak and while fouling him, must've taken an elbow to the head. Adams walked off to the locker room and the game was halted for a few minutes for a search for drops of blood on the floor, but he returned a few minutes later with a large matching bandage over his right eye (mirroring Moses' still bandaged left eye from yesterday's cut).
Moses responded with a few nice moves of his own and it seemed to be a fairly even match. Adams subbed in and out frequently (both stamina and injury) so it was not a continually battle, but neither player was able to overpower the other. The slower pace of the game suited Moses well, forcing his teammates to look for him inside more often, and he looked the most comfortable he's been this summer.
Greg Whittington did his part to get the The Tombs off to a fast start, opening with 7 quick points, including a 3 pointer and an acrobatic lay-up (and also fumbling away another lay-up). He finished with 17 (note: no HSB box today, but I tracked some scoring totals), but he passed up a few open looks in the second half. I'm not sure what shook his confidence. The story behind a number of his baskets was the main development of the day:
The Otto Porter Shift.
Jabril has been the leading scorer and on the attack throughout Kenner, so with Jeff Green out of the picture, it seemed natural as lead guard that he'd take the reins. But this weekend there has been a steady shift in the offense towards centering around Otto – the offense is still stumbling at times, but when it goes through Otto, it seems the most natural and successful. Otto again filled up the box score with rebounds, assists and steals, and working in the mid-range game I was asking for yesterday. Off of a broken post-up, Otto picked the ball off the floor and made a turn around fadeaway bank shot despite seeming like he shouldn't ha've had any idea where he was on the floor. He also had back-to-back mid-range jump shops to help stretch the lead for the Tombs at the start of the second half. More interestingly, he ran the point guard a bit even with Jabril on the floor – and while he didn't do much to break down the defense, he initiated the offense with ease.
The shift in focus around Otto has been accompanied by some struggles by Jabril this weekend. He's missed a few reasonable conversions, but he the bigger problem is that he appeared to be getting frustrated and responded by being more bullish than we've seen. He finished with his lowest point total (I had him for 13 but I may have tacked on an extra FT on accident) on 5-11 shooting. The breaking point was one fastbreak, he was trailing the pack and kicked it up a gear and took on two guys at the hoop instead of trying to find Otto in the paint. He still had success drawing fouls, but for some reason his free throw shooting deserted him today leaving him unable to pick up those easy points that are critical to his game. As Otto took more control of the ball, Jabril made a nice adjustment and posted up where Otto found him for an easy lay-in.
Mikael Hopkins had a nice long jumper and he played well in the post, but he was overmanned when he tried to play behind Moses. In contrast, I only saw this happen one possession, but Otto face guarded Moses and deterred an attempt at a post up by closing off the passing lanes -- I don't know if he could sustain that activity for sustained periods of time, but it's could be an interesting temporary shift to break the rhythm of an opposing big. Back to Hopkins -- in a moment that might be a preview of his more ideal face up four role, Hopkins showed a nice dribble drive from the wing. He continues to play with good energy and pick up points with help from his teammates. And Tyler again was on the losing end of a two handed dunk attempt -- this missing actually adding injury to insult as he had to take another quick trip to a locker room for what appeared to be a cut from the rim.
In the end, It was a frenetic finish and a Moses ferocious dunk brought the score to two within thirty second (and moved him into double digits), but Jabril stepped up with some sound defense to help the Tombs cross the finish line and win by three. He rejected a chip shot in the lane and then helped prevent Hoop Magic fro
m getting a shot to tie the game.