I was looking forward to writing this recap. One player I've overlooked, mostly because his separation from other Hoyas limited my chances to watch him, is Moses Ayegba. Moses had looked at best steady when I've seen him, but I'd heard positive reviews of his gradual improvement – and that improvement was on full display Thursday night. There was slightly more seriousness about the elimination playoff game and the tempo noticeably slowed for Moses' Hoop Magic squad and they started to feed him the ball in the post more frequently than earlier in the summer. Moses fought for position down low and took the ball right into the body of Henry Sims early, drawing a foul, and continued to be a real threat in the post and overpower defenders under the hoop. Moses was especially dominant on the offensive boards, using his strength to push Henry out of position, and he had a number of nice tips and put-backs. It was clear Henry was tried to match his teammate who had one-upped him, but when he caught the ball with his back to the basket five feet away from the post, he had no success backing in and a failed spin-move left him called with a travel. In the second half, Moses had the best block of his I can remember, soaring to block a Sims shot – and he knocked the ball forward towards a teammate instead of swatting it out of bounds. Sims did have his moments, including a nice reverse lay-up that he converted after drawing a foul from Moses, and neither player was vastly superior, but it wasn't hard to imagine an even split of minutes between the two centers (Sims' effectiveness was hurt by a being unable to hit the mid-range jumpers he's come to rely on).
And then the bigger fellow went down.
Bad news after the jump
Mid-way through the 2nd half, somewhere in a sequence of collecting his 11th rebound and putting it back in for his 12th point, Moses landed awkwardly. He writhed on ground in obvious pain, with his right leg extended straight. When the trainer came over, he seemed to be focusing on Moses' right knee. Moses started to hobble off with help, but he refused to put any weight on right leg and ended up being carried off to the locker room.
It didn't look good... the one small caveat might be that Moses is extra cautious about his injuries. Last summer, he twisted an ankle as he and Markel Starks collided under the hoop, and in an initial scary moment I feared the worst. It ended up just being a roll and even returned to the game for a minute before taking the next week off (to be fair, he could put weight on that right away). Knees are a different animal, but one can hope...
Anyway, the rest of the game continued and continued until it was finally decided in the 3rd overtime. The extra time gave the eventual victors, Henry and Markel, to rack up some nice stats, scoring 17 and 21 respectively. Markel started the game out particularly hot, hitting his four shots, two of which were threes, before cooling off a bit. He did finish the game 3-4 from deep and hit a big shot near the end that helped force the initial overtime. In the second half, he started to be more aggressive driving to the hoop, but he struggled to get the ball in the basket, getting a number of shots rejected and a few misses. Markel did make a difference with his defense and poked away a number of balls that led to easy buckets. Henry unfurled a few nice hook shots (the ball seems to roll right out of his hand), but those were over Ian Hummer, not Moses.
Kenner League is almost always about willingly the regular season to finally come, but on a night like last night, it's nice to remember the opening tip is over three months away and that our big men still have time to heal. And we can only hope the big man injury bug stops at three (Moses, Tyler Adams and Nate Lubick).