Thanks to the powerful pull of THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON, I was able to get a press pass to cover the Northeast Regionals of the The Basketball Tournament. It was pretty awesome as I was thoroughly hooked up with a seat in press row, access to a media lounge with lunch provided (and importantly, documented), and access to the postgame press conferences. As readers know, there were two teams of note in the competition for Hoyas fans. First and foremost, DMV's Finest which features former Hoyas Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Jason Clark. The second team of note is City of God, which features former Hoya Mike Sweetney.
Below are day by day recaps of the action involving these two games along with Photo and Video Documentation.
I also have a few short video clips of the action:
DMV's Finest took on a team simply known as Elite who proved to be anything but. DMV's Finest used a lot of on the ball pressure to force turnovers and get out in transition.
Jason Clark was the highest scoring Hoya with 17 points 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals. Chris Wright almost had a double double with 10 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Austin Freeman struggled with his outside shot going 1-7 from deep for 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
Gilbert Brown of Pittsburgh was a big addition to this year's team along with Augustus Gilchrist of South Florida. They led the team in scoring with 23 and 17 points, respectively
Rashad Wack of Mount St. Mary's drained 5 three pointers in the win.
The team also featured a trio of George Mason Players: Mike Morrison, Isiah Tate, and Ryan Pearson.
Next up, City of God and Mike Sweetney!
Put simply, Mike Sweetney is huge, considerably bigger than Joshua Smith. But he still has some moves! Not only was he able to use his gargantuan size to score inside, he even drained a three pointer. His size and the amount of talent on his team limited his playing time, but he posted an efficient 9 points on 3-4 shooting and pulled down 5 rebounds all in just 11 minutes of action. He's also a super nice guy and was very happy to see my Georgetown shirt.
Sweetney's team features a number of former pros including:
Pops Mensah Bonsu of GW
Hamady Ndiaye of Rutgers
Demarr Johnson of Cincinnati
James Gist of Maryland
Lasan Kromah of Uconn
Omar Strong on Texas Southern
Xavier Silas of N. Illinois
Phil Goss of Drexel
Here are some clips of big mike in action:
Day 2's opponent was a rag tag group playing under the name of WOYG (Work On Your Game).
The biggest name of note on WOYG was CJ Aiken a 6'9 PF from local St. Joseph's. They also had 2 other former D1 players to complement their smattering of lower division players.
Despite this, they proved a much sterner test than yesterday's opponent and DMV's Finest wasn't able to get any separation until late in the first half when DMV was able to finally push the lead to double digits. The furious finish saw the DMV take a 20 point lead into half time, despite it being nip and tuck the first 15 minutes of the contest. DMV's Finest continued their ball hawking defense that lead to many steals and easy transition points.
Austin Freeman continued to struggle from outside.
Jerai Grant made his first appearance for DMV today. The former Clemson player and older brother to ND's Jerian and Syracuse's Jerami.
Jason Clark led the team with 12 points at the half, with Chris Wright contributing 10 and Austin Freeman 9.
WOYG were led by Jon Hazzard of Salve Regina and Adam Constantine of Elon who each chipped in 8 points.
After the half, DMV picked up where they left off ripping off a 10-0 run to start the half including two threes from Clark to quickly put to rest any doubts about the games outcome. The lead never dropped below 25 the rest of the game and DMV advanced with a final score of 95-61.
Jason Lead all scorers with 21 points and also had 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
Chris had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal.
Austin struggled again from outside going 1-6 but chipped in 12 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, and 2 steals.
Next up, more Mike Sweetney!
In Mike Sweetney's second game, his City of God's team took on a team comprised entirely of players form the Lynchburg College's Club basketball team. They didn't have a player over 6'4 and also sported the first woman I've seen play in the basketball tournament. Meanwhile City of God's had the services of former Rutgers Center 7 footer Hamady N'Diaye to go along with their stable of 6'8+ players.
Mike again hit a three pointer and this time I caught it on film!
Those were Mike's only points of the game but he also added 4 rebounds in his 9 minute stint.
DMV's Finest's 3rd round game pitted our 3 Georgetown stars against Liberty Ballers and a trio of former Villanova players in Antonio Pena, Reggie Redding and James Bell. The Liberty Ballers also had a collection of other D1 players from Sienna, St. Joes, Temple, and Davidson.
After two easy wins in the opening two rounds, DMV's Finest finally had a worthy opponent. It was nip and tuck to start th egame with multiple lead changes. Jason Clark continued to be a defensive pest forcing steals and an over and back violation.
DMV had trouble defending, and they allowed the opponent to get into the lane too easily allowing lots of assists when the defense collapsed. DMV won the A/TO battle handily in their first two games, but were on the wrong end of that stat in this matchup. It was Liberty Ballers who were the beneficiaries of lots of transition points, and were on fire from deep in the first half. Every player on the court for Liberty could stroke the ball from deep including their centers.
DMV was able to cut the lead down to 7 on a couple of occasions, but at the half the deficit stood at 11. Liberty Ballers were 9-16 from deep in the first half with 6 different players hitting a 3. They had 18 assists on 20 made baskets.
Austin Freeman led the way for the DMV's Finest at half with 15 points, Jason Clark chipped in 10 and Chris Wright had 7.
DMV cut the lead to 5 out of half time prompting a Liberty Ballers timeout. DMV switched to a 1-3-1 out of that time out quickly forcing a turnover. They switched between man and zone keeping their opponent off balance. But missed opportunities and turnovers soon saw the lead back to 11. 6'10" Jake Cohen from Davidson was particularly troublesome for DMV, connecting on 4 out of 6 three pointers. DMV never could get it closer than 5 and the lead was double digits most of the game. The final score was 85-73.
Overall, DMV played a more selfish game than in the first two. Obviously it's easier to be unselfish when you're winning, but there was far too much 1 on 1 for DMV while the Liberty Ballers moved the ball a lot more effectively. DMV also used a shorter rotation than they did in the first two games, and in the end it was a very disappointing performance and result.
Austin lead all scorers with 22 points. He also had 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. He was only 3-8 from deep though.
Chris had 11 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals but was the main culprit of the missed free throws that helped doom DMV's finest going 5-12 from the line.
Jason had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Next up, Mike Sweetney time!
Just like for DMV's Finest, today's opponent represented a major step up in competition for Mike Sweetney's City of God team. The opponent Free Bands featured a number of DMV players including former Maryland guard Tyrell Stoglin, VT Alum Jeff Allen, Dewayne Jackson of Morgan State.
City of God took the lead early and seemed to be in command, but a late run by Free Bands saw them take the lead with about 5 minutes to go and expand the lead up to as much as 9 and taking a 6 point lead into the half.
Jahmar Young who played his college ball at New Mexico State was the leading scorer for Free Bands with 17 points on 4-5 shooting from deep. City of God's was similarly paced by Omar Strong who was 4-6 from 3. Sweetney saw even more limited playing time today due to the competitive nature of the game, only playing 2 minutes in the first half and did not score.
The savvy veterans of City of God's slowly chipped away and took the lead 5 minutes into the second half, and two minutes later the lead was in double digits. The lead fluctuated the rest of the game, but City of God' maintained the lead the rest of the game and will advance to the Super 17 in Chicago winning 96-84.
Best of luck to Sweetney the rest of the way!