Sunday, August 8, 2010

D1 Sports 135 Hendrick of Durham 124

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

In a game full of stars on the professional and college levels, the Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Championship offered one of the most competitive showdowns in all of summer league basketball. The stakes were high as New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton and D1 Sports had championship hopes on their minds in their contest against Cleveland Cavalier Jawad Williams and Hendrick of Durham.

D1 sports came out gunning from the opening tip, leaping out to a 10-2 lead after Duke's Andre Dawkins drained a pair of three balls. Williams responded on the other end, showing off his mid-range game hitting a step back jump shot and following it just seconds later with a lay-up. NCCU sophomore Nick Chasten added on to Hendrick of Durham's scoring with a baseline deuce, as his team climbed its way back into the game.

It appeared that Hendrick of Durham had ended the first quarter on a good note after former ECU standout Derrick Wiley nailed two free throws with just 2.9 seconds left on the clock, but Atlanta Hawk center Josh Powell hit a deep fade-away attempt at the buzzer to boost his team to a nine point lead.

The success continued for D1 Sports in the second quarter with Felton and Powell hooking up on several occasions. Their team led by as much as 15 in the second quarter, in large part because of Felton's offense. After Felton's trey ball to end the period, D1 Sports held a 68-57 lead at the half.

"He just took over the game," Williams said of Felton. "Whoever has to guard him, he's getting them ready for the next level."

The third quarter posed more problems for Hendrick of Durham as D1 Sports' Marcus Fisher continued to build on his sensational tournament. Fisher dropped eight of his 27 points in the third period, and was perfect on all three of his free throws in the second half.

Although they had little success on the defensive end, Hendrick of Durham had a big third quarter from the field as Wiley and Michael Deloach hit several shots that helped cut the deficit. With six seconds remaining in the quarter, Deloach hit a deep two pointer to trim the margin back to single digits as their team trailed 97-89 heading into the final period.

The heated atmosphere reached its peak in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when Powell was whistled for his third goaltending violation of the game. His protest led to a technical foul that paved the way for Wiley to knock down a free throw that made it only a one point game in favor of D1 Sports.

Despite Hendrick of Durham's 9-0 run, Felton would not let the game get away. He fearlessly burst into the lane, getting to the rack and drawing fouls. Within seconds, D1 Sports' lead was stretched back to nine.

Williams and Wiley combined for 11 fourth quarter points, but fell short of sparking a run to get Hendrick of Durham back in the game. Felton and Fisher's backcourt dominance proved to be the difference, as D1 Sports won the third annual Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Championship by a score of 135-124.

After leading a team to the summer league's championship for the second year in a row, Felton discussed the benefits from playing against such a high level of talent.

"It's a good thing to come out here and get a run," Felton said. "This is pretty much one of the best [summer leagues]."

While Felton and Powell both played significant roles in winning the championship, Fisher came away with honors for Most Valuable Player after his exceptional play throughout the tournament. Through three tournament games, Fisher averaged 16.7 points per game, but the championship contest was by far his most impressive outing.

White Team Shoots its Way to Victory in the Greater NC Pro-Am High School Showcase

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

There was a great amount of anticipation surrounding the Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Championship, but fans were in for a treat even sooner than expected when much of the young local talent gathered to participate in the High School Showcase.

Knightdale's Jalen Jones got things going early, leading the Black team to a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes, but his high school teammate and fellow class of 2013 prospect Deshawn Griffin hit a field goal to begin the scoring for the White team.

Word of God's Josh McNeal demonstrated his wide range of skills, finding success down low and later stepping out to hit a three pointer. McNeal turned in a solid seven point effort in the first half for the Black team.

While Jones and McNeal found first half success on the offensive end, Mount Zion's Sean Nottingham played excellent basketball on both ends of the floor for the White team. His ten points led all scorers at the break, and played a big part in gaining a 33-20 advantage at the half for the White team.

Ravenscroft guard and class of 2012 prospect Madison Jones heated up in the second half, fueling a 10-0 run for the Black team that cut the deficit to just four points.

Durham Hillside's Torian Graham had answers for the quick run and was not about to let the game slip away from the White team. Graham's second half baskets were crucial in helping his team regain a comfortable lead and hold on for the win. Jalen Jones made things interesting in the final minutes, hitting a free throw to convert a three point play, but Graham was successful in completing an old-fashioned three point play of his own with just under 30 seconds left on the clock. Graham received Most Valuable Player honors as the White team escaped with the win, 60-53.

Bridge2Sports All-Stars shut out Wall, NBA stars

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Shortly following the East-West Bridge2Sports All-Star game, the Bridge2Sports All-Stars took the court to face the number one overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall, and four other high profile standouts in a wheelchair match-up.

Wall, accompanied by Josh Powell of the Atlanta Hawks, Jawad Williams of the Cleveland Cavaliers, C.J. Leslie of NC State and Julian Gamble of Miami, struggled throughout the contest as he and his team were unable to keep up with the pace of their opponents.

Jeremy Smith got an early bucket to put his team up by four in the first couple minutes. Mike Adkins knocked down a three pointer and the game really got out of hand when Andrea Woodson-Smith's lay-up bumped the score up to 11-0.

Fans caught a good laugh as Wall, Leslie and Gamble each missed from point blank range down the stretch. Kevin Bailey's two pointer with 40 seconds remaining was the last basket of the game as the Bridge2Sports All-Stars got the surprising shutout, 15-0.

The Thunder Earns the Win in the Bridge2Sports All-Star Game

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The East-West Bridge2Sports All-Star game was a physical match-up, as the Thunder squared off with the Bulldogs.

Michael Whitlock and Tee Foster played excellent early in the contest, helping the Bulldogs to an early lead. Whitlock's two points from under the basket helped give his team a 26-22 lead.

NCCU alum Andrea Woodson-Smith had answers on the other end, however. The former gold medalist contributed multiple baskets late in the game to reclaim the lead for the Thunder.

The Bulldogs made a late-game surge, and Foster's lay-up with 34 seconds to play brought the game within one. On the ensuing Thunder possession, the Bulldogs got the steal and an opportunity to hit the last shot to win the game. Through tight defense, the Thunder was able to hold on to claim the victory.

Woodson-Smith was named Most Valuable Player after the contest.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Smith Named MVP of Greater NC Pro-Am

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

After a spectacular season with Team Dreamworks, Nolan Smith won the award of Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Greater NC Pro-Am.

Smith established himself as one of the best scorers in the league after turning in performances of 35 points and 41 points in his first two outings. He also led Team Dreamworks to an 81-78 victory over eventual regular season champion Team Navy after his team trailed by 12 in the final quarter.

D1 Sports 83 Team Jamison 74

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The second semifinals match-up of the night was a rematch of one of the most electrifying games of the year, as Andre Dawkins and D1 Sports looked to get revenge on Seth Curry and Team Jamison.

In the first contest between the two, Dawkins dialed in from long distance in the final minutes to bring his team within three points, but Josh Powell's inside play for Team Jamison could not be stopped. Despite Dawkins' 36 points, Team Jamison escaped as victors.

Powell suited up again on Saturday, but this time for D1 Sports. He had his hands full down low throughout the night, going back and forth against Miami center Julian Gamble.

Neither team could break away from the other in the first quarter, as Gamble and D1 Sports' Ryan Kelly found early buckets down low. After some miscommunication by Team Jamison, Kelly was able to drop in an uncontested lay-in in the final minute of the first quarter to give D1 Sports a 15-14 advantage before the first intermission.

The competition got a lot hotter in the second quarter when Hayward Fain threw down a one-handed slam off an offensive rebound. Dawkins responded with a trey ball, as his teammate Marcus Fisher added one of his own. The crowd erupted when Dawkins hit another three to cap off a 9-0 run. Curry laid in the final two points with a finger roll off the glass, but his team trailed 44-33 at halftime.

D1 Sports maintained control throughout the third quarter, with five different players scoring in the period. Powell's one-handed jam with 2:15 left on the clock put his team up by 17. Curry hit the second of two free throws with 26.2 seconds remaining, but D1 Sports took a commanding 63-47 lead into the final intermission.

After trailing by over a dozen for nearly the entire half, Curry and Gamble were not about to let the game get away without a fight. Curry's play from behind the arc helped open things up down low for Gamble, and Team Jamison was able to pull within four with just over two minutes left in the game.

"We knew that they weren't just going to give up," Dawkins said. "We let them come back but we just had to buckle down today and get some stops and some buckets."

After giving up an 8-0 run to allow Team Jamison a shot at the championship, D1 Sports found ways to score tough baskets when it mattered most. With 2:07 remaining, Powell regained some momentum for his team by converting an old-fashioned three point play. Gamble threw down a pair of dunks in the final two minutes, but it was not enough. Dawkins ended the game in dramatic fashion, throwing the ball off the backboard to set himself up for a one-handed slam. With the 83-74 win, D1 Sports reached the championship game.

Powell and Dawkins were the key players in getting the win, scoring 21 points and 15 points, respectively. While they were able to steal the win, Curry turned in 18 points for Team Jamison. Dawkins and Curry were on opposing sides in Saturday's game, but fans will have the opportunity to see the two guards play together for the Duke Blue Devils this season.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Dawkins said. "Our backcourt is really, really good. As long as we keep working hard, we should have a really good season."

For the time being, Dawkins hopes to continue to showcase his backcourt skills at 4:30 on Sunday, when he and D1 Sports face Hendrick of Durham for the Greater NC Pro-Am championship.

Hendrick of Durham 96 Team Dreamworks 78

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

There was little doubt that the first game of the semifinals of the Greater NC Pro-Am tournament would have a lot of scoring, as Akeem Richmond and Hendrick of Durham sought to light up the scoreboard against NCCU sharpshooter Landon Clement and Team Dreamworks.

It did not take long for Richmond to start dropping buckets as he knocked down an early three, and later kept the defense honest by faking a perimeter shot and driving to the bucket for a lay-in. Richmond's play to begin the game boosted Hendrick of Durham to a nine point lead toward the end of the first quarter.

Clement struggled early from long range, but Corey Evans picked up the slack, scoring 16 points in the first half. Evans' success at converting on second chance opportunities was huge in keeping the game from getting out of hand in the first quarter and a half of play.

Although Evans was the leading scorer on the floor, Michael Deloach and Nick Chasten provided excellent play on the other end to hold a comfortable lead throughout the first half. Chasten's cross-over dribble and drive for a lay-up gave Hendrick of Durham a 17 point lead with under a minute to play in the half. The squad took a 48-31 lead into halftime.

Team Dreamworks came out gunning in the opening minutes of the second half. Clement's alley-oop to Evans off the inbounds pass sparked some offensive production from the team, with Clement later hitting a three to add on to Evans' scoring spree.

Down the stretch, Hendrick of Durham was just too tough to stop. The team scored five points in the last five seconds of the third quarter after VMI's Stanley Okoye hit a free throw to convert a three point play and Derrick Wiley stole the ensuing inbounds pass, drawing a foul that resulted in two successful free throw attempts. The 9-0 run to end the period led to a 23 point lead going into the final quarter.

Things only got uglier for Team Dreamworks at the beginning of the fourth period, as James Zimmerman and Wiley each hit baskets to build on what ultimately became a 14-0 run. Hendrick of Durham led by as much as 28, but Evans' 42 point performance eased the pain for Team Dreamworks.

E.J. Williams also stepped up in the fourth quarter for Team Dreamworks. His 10 fourth quarter points also made for an impressive individual showing, but it was not nearly enough to get his team back in the game. Hendrick of Durham ran away with the victory, 96-78.

Hendrick of Durham is set to face D1 Sports in the championship game at 4:30 PM, Sunday.

D1 Sports 69 Lucky Seven 65

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The final game of Friday night's playoff match-ups featured several big name stars as Josh Powell led Lucky Seven in their contest against Ryan Kelly and D1 Sports.

The pair of Duke teammates hooked up early as Andre Dawkins dished out an around-the-back pass to Kelly for a two-handed slam that was good for the first points of the game. Powell and Courtney Fells got a couple early buckets for Lucky Seven, but Marcus Fisher, who dropped 34 points D1 Sports' final regular season game, got his name in the box score with some first quarter baskets. Jared Johnson of D1 Sports took the ball to the rack for a lay-up and the final two points of the first quarter, as his team claimed a 20-13 lead after the first 10 minutes of play.

Powell shot well in the second quarter, scoring six points and going 4-4 from the free throw line. Kelly had answers, however, as he knocked down three free throws after being fouled behind the perimeter. Kelly scored five of his 22 points in the second quarter as D1 Sports held on to their lead, 31-25.

Fells, Powell and Gavin Grant each turned in solid performances in the third quarter, as the trio of former Wolfpackers reclaimed the lead for Lucky Seven. A three point play by Fells gave Lucky Seven their first lead of the half at 40-38, and they led by one going into the final quarter.

The game remained close throughout the final period and the outcome was not decided until the closing seconds. After Fells converted another old-fashioned three point play to bring Lucky Seven within two points, Fain drew a charge off Dawkins with 33.1 seconds left. Fells' jump hook with 21 seconds did not go down, but Lucky Seven had one last chance with 19 seconds remaining. Down by three, Grant brought the ball up court for Lucky Seven only to have it stolen by Dawkins at the top of the key. As a result, Dawkins laid in a breakaway finger roll to put the game out of doubt. D1 Sports earned a spot in the semifinals after defeating Lucky Seven, 69-65.

Team Jamison 61 Team Navy 46

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

After winning the Greater NC Pro-Am regular season championship on Thursday night, Team Navy came out Friday with hopes of proving that their 6-2 record was no fluke. They had their work cut out for them in the first round of the playoffs in their showdown against Seth Curry and Team Jamison.

Team Navy struggled from the field at the beginning, and found themselves behind early after Julian gamble converted a pair of three point plays. Gamble's play down low was the story of the opening period as his 10 first quarter points was enough to outscore all of Team Navy in the first 10 minutes. At the first intermission, Team Jamison led by eight.

Curry was unable to get a shot to drop until the 7:02 mark in the second quarter, but his first points came off a three ball that boosted Team Jamison to their first double-digit lead of the game. Team Navy finally woke up at the end of the first half, scoring the final six points of the second quarter to close the margin to 30-22 going into halftime.

Team Jamison's lead was in danger in the third quarter when Corey Evans hit a free throw to convert the old-fashioned three point play and bring Team Navy within four, but Anthony Wilkinson dropped in a long range bomb that once again made it a three possession game.

After trailing by eight at the end of the third quarter, Ward was the only player who could consistently score for Team Navy. Ward scored a team-high 20 points, but it was not enough to overcome Curry's late-game scoring. Curry had seven points in the final quarter as Team Jamison snatched the 61-46 victory to advance to the semifinals.

Team Dreamworks 78 Team Stackhouse 62

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Landon Clement and Team Dreamworks wasted no time in grabbing an early lead over Team Stackhouse during the second game of the Greater NC Pro-Am tournament. Clement nailed a three ball in the opening minutes that gave his team the lead for good as they rolled over Team Stackhouse.

Team Dreamworks was tough to stop in the first half, as they balanced Dijon Mann's inside game with Clement's perimeter sniping. Clement's trey ball with 34 seconds on the clock gave Team Dreamworks a 21-14 lead. The score remained the same at the buzzer, as Clement's shot from beyond halfcourt bounced off the rim.

E.J. Williams and Madison Jones contributed some offensive production in the second quarter to close the gap, after Jones followed William's three point play with a breakaway dunk that cut the lead to three. Williams played well throughout the second period and scored 12 points in the first half.

While Team Stackhouse found some success from the field in the first few minutes of the quarter, Team Dreamworks was led by Clement and Bishop Daniels in holding on to their lead. Daniels' one-hand slam with seven seconds remaining helped his team hold a 35-27 advantage at halftime.

Team Stackhouse made another run in the third quarter, bringing the game within two after a jumper from Norbert Randall, but Clement scored a quick five points in response. After taking a 51-44 lead into the final period of play, Team Dreamworks held a comfortable lead for the remainder of the contest.

Clement, who had 31 points, combined deadly perimeter shooting with a high shot percentage from the free throw line to rack up the points that kept Team Dreamworks ahead. His three pointer with just under four minutes on the clock gave his team a 19 point lead, the largest the difference would get. Team Dreamworks cruised on to a first round victory, 78-62, as they eliminated Team Stackhouse.

Hendrick of Durham 80 Body of Christ 77

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Former Norfolk State star Michael Deloach and Rhode Island guard Akeem Richmond have been two of the best scorers of the summer at the Greater NC Pro-Am. So it was no surprise to anyone that the two each scored over 25 points when going head-to-head with one another in the opening game of the playoffs.

The first quarter was a tight one, with no team ever able to pull away. Body of Christ took an early five point lead after Detwon Rodgers followed a Richmond three ball by using his post moves to get two points down low just seconds after. Hendrick of Durham would come back, as a break away slam by Deloach sparked a run for his team. Deloach's teammate, Nick Chasten, had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of the first period, but his three point attempt at the buzzer did not fall.

The scoring slowed down in the second quarter for Body of Christ, and a 360 dunk by VMI's Stanley Okoye helped Hendrick of Durham build a four point lead. Deloach (27 points) contributed to the 17-1 run, converting an old-fashioned three point play and helping his squad put together a 12 point lead.

While Hendrick of Durham appeared to be running away with the game, Richmond hit several crucial buckets to bring the deficit back within single digits. Richmond scored 17 points in the first half, including a three pointer that cut the margin to eight. His half court shot at the buzzer clanked off the front of the rim, as Hendrick of Durham remained in command, 42-34.

Body of Christ clawed their way back in the third quarter, and took their first lead of the half after Scott Grable drove through the lane for a lay-up. John Brown capped off the 15-0 run with a drive and lay-in of his own, but a deep three by James Zimmerman as time expired reclaimed the lead for Hendrick of Durham.

Excellent free throw shooting down the stretch made for a thrilling contest, and Richmond's clutch three pointers brought the crowd to its feet on numerous occasions. With just 34 seconds left on the clock, Richmond hit a shot from beyond the arc while falling down to bring the game within two points, but Hendrick of Durham had a lot of success from the charity stripe, making it difficult for Body of Christ to retake the lead. With just .7 seconds remaining, Richmond was fouled on a three point attempt and had as many free throws while trailing by four. After capitalizing on just one of the three shots, his late push proved to be too little, too late. Despite Richmond's 35 point effort, Hendrick of Durham earned the 80-77 victory.

Friday, August 6, 2010

D1 Sports 75 Coaches in Christ 73 (OT)

The Greater NC Pro-Am regular season finished the way it started, as the final game Thursday night was an overtime thriller. Marcus Fisher and D1 Sports faced off with Marques Oliver and Coaches in Christ in a contest that resulted in a nail biting finish.

Coaches in Christ came out for a well-balanced first quarter, with Oliver finding buckets down low as Bishop Daniels dished out multiple assists and found success from the perimeter. Julian Gamble displayed his inside-out game for Coaches in Christ, as the big man found points both under the basket and from three point land. The team jumped out to a 23-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Fisher began to heat up after the opening period, scoring nine of his 34 points in the second quarter, but Coaches in Christ was seemingly incapable of missing. An old-fashioned three point play by Lamont McQueen followed by a goaltending violation against D1 Sports helped Coaches in Christ take a 15 point lead into halftime.

D1 Sports trailed by seven in the third quarter when Brandon Smith knocked down two points that sparked some life into his squad. The team followed his basket with two straight stops on defense, and a two-handed dunk by Jared Johnson helped chip away at the lead. Fisher continued his scoring spree by knocking down two free throws to cut the lead to 47-44, making it a one possession game.

It appeared that D1 Sports had all the momentum, but Oliver and Gamble each muscled in baskets to keep a comfortable lead for Coaches in Christ. Fisher nailed a two point field goal with just second remaining in the third quarter, and D1 Sports trailed only by five heading into the final period of regulation.

Coaches in Christ held on to their lead throughout the majority of the fourth quarter, but D1 Sports would not go away. Fisher stepped up to the free throw line with 5.9 seconds on the clock, with his team behind by two. He was good on both attempts, as his clutch shooting put the game into overtime.

D1 Sports' Mark Pounds may not have made much noise in regulation, but he was certainly the hero of overtime. After first getting a breakaway lay-up to extend his team's lead to four with just 23 seconds remaining, Pounds stepped up to the line with 8.6 seconds left and hit two big free throws that were ultimately the difference. D1 Sports rallied to steal the win from Coaches in Christ, 75-73.

Team McGladrey rallies, defeats Team 212, 63-57

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Miami Hurricane Julian Gamble suited up for Team 212 in his first game of the summer at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium as he squared off against Hayward Fain and Team McGladrey.

Dominique Sutton was a human highlight reel in the opening quarter, scoring eight points in the first period. His thundering tomahawk slam with a minute remaining stretched Team 212's lead to six, but Dijon Manns hit a free throw with 9.4 seconds remaining to complete a three point play that cut the deficit to 16-13.

Landon Clement dialed in from long range in the second quarter to add to the lead, but Team McGladrey's Bishop Daniels had answers on the other end. Daniels scored seven points in the second period, including a half court shot at the buzzer that brought his team within one point of Team 212 at the half.

While Gamble's post presence produced some hard-earned buckets down low for Team 212, Team McGladrey claimed its first lead of the game after Fain got a steal and threw down a windmill jam. Sutton responded with a three on the other end, and the rest of the third quarter consisted of several lead changes. Daniels had an opportunity to retake the lead for Team McGladrey right before the final intermission, but his attempt at a two-handed reverse dunk was no good. Team 212 was up 43-42 going into the final quarter.

Daniels, who had 15 points in the contest, led Team McGladrey on a run in the beginning of the fourth period to take a four point lead. Sutton knocked down a trey to tie the game at 54-54 with 4:52 left on the clock, but Fain refused to let the game slip away. Fain eventually went on to hit three of four free throws in the final 43 seconds to seal the win for Team McGladrey, 63-57.

Team Navy 77 Team Stackhouse 75

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Team Stackhouse threatened Team Navy's championship hopes with what could have been the comeback of the summer, but it was not enough as Team Navy escaped with a two point win.

Durham Hillside's Torian Graham, a class of 2012 recruit who holds offers from NC State and Xavier, scored 21 of his 34 points in the first half for Team Stackhouse. He established himself as his team's leader immediately, hitting an early pair of treys and also converting on the old-fashioned three point play.

While Graham turned in a sensational performance, Team Navy did what they do best; attack their opponents by distributing the scoring. Charles Ward, Dominique Sutton and Derrick Wiley all dropped in first quarter baskets, leading Team Navy to a 20-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Team Navy went for the throat in the second quarter, as early buckets by Ward and Marshall's Johnny Thomas boosted the squad to a double-digit lead. The highlight of the night came midway through the second period when Mikell Faulkner found Johnny Thomas for a crushing alley-oop slam. Graham hit two free throws with 6.5 seconds on the clock to close out the half, but Team Stackhouse trailed by a score of 48-31.

A Wiley three pointer in the third quarter stretched the margin to 25, the largest deficit of the night. Team Stackhouse's E.J. Williams hit a three in response, but Wiley finished the quarter with the old-fashioned three point play that accounted for three of his 18 points.

Trailing by 19 entering the final quarter, Team Stackhouse began to claw back. Stanley Okoye led a run that closed the gap to just six points with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Okoye also got things done on the defensive end, rejecting Team Navy's shot attempts that would have put the game out of doubt. With 24 seconds to go, E.J. Williams found Okoye down low for a two-handed jam, making it a four point game.

After a Team Navy timeout, Team Stackhouse was able to get the steal and Okoye capitalized on two second chance points to make it a one possession game with nine seconds left.

Team Navy prevailed, however. Team Stackhouse was unable to foul, and Ward protected the ball as time expired. Team Navy escaped with the narrow victory, 77-75, and was crowned the regular season champion.

Hendrick of Durham 77 Team Dreamworks 49

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Stanley Okoye made his presence felt Thursday night at the Greater NC Pro-Am, dropping 18 points on Team Dreamworks in what ultimately proved to be the blowout of the year.

Hendrick of Durham came out hot in the first quarter, wrapping up the opening period with an 11 point lead, but the bleeding really started in the second quarter when Okoye outscored Team Dreamworks. Okoye's team led by as much as 20, and held on to the large advantage. As Team Dreamworks only scored eight points in the period, Hendrick of Durham headed into halftime on top, 41-22.

The third quarter was more of the same, with James Zimmerman and NCCU sophomore Nick Chasten each hitting three balls for Hendrick of Durham. Bishop Daniels found some points from the free throw line for Team Dreamworks, but it was not enough to cancel out the opposition's dominance. With three seconds remaining in the third quarter, Chandler Hawkins knocked down a pull up jumper to give Hendrick of Durham a 29 point lead before the final period.

Hawkins' fast break lay-up in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter extended the lead to 70-37, the largest deficit of the game. Daniels threw down an impressive alley-oop slam, but it was just about the only thing his team had to cheer about. Hendrick of Durham rolled to an easy win, 77-49.

Team Navy Crowned Champs of the Regular Season

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Charles Ward and former ECU star Derrick Wiley each turned in solid performances for Team Navy, defeating Team Stackhouse for the regular season championship.

After starting the summer 0-2, Team Navy bounced back to win its final six regular season games. Wiley scored 18 points on the night, with Ward dropping in 15 points.

Team Navy will hold the number one seed entering the Greater NC Pro-Am tournament, beginning tonight at 6 PM.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NC Pro-Am Interviews: Justin Watts

Above the Rim Exclusives: Interviews with your favorite SJG Pro-Am Players

By Anna LaRew - Player Correspondent (@annalarew)

NCPA: What does playing in the NC Pro-Am mean to you?

JW: It’s a great opportunity for the people in the area to watch us and watch other schools like State, Duke and Central. It gives them the chance to come watch us play great basketball for free.

NCPA: What is your favorite type of play during a game?

JW: Probably a game changing play, like when we are down, or we are up or tied then something makes the momentum change or someone gets a dunk. It just really gets me pumped up.

NCPA: Tell us about life during the regular season.

JW: Well, you know, I play all year round working and trying to keep my body in shape and staying healthy. I’m really busy. We are traveling most of the time, and when we are not traveling we are practicing. Busy is the key word.

NCPA: You call Durham home, what do you like most about the city? What do you hope to add as your career advances?

JW: The city is very supportive. Everyone wants to see you do well and do the best you can. I just want to be able to do everything I can do with my God given talent. I want people to say he did everything he can do. I want to put my city on the map.

NCPA: Who at this tournament do you most want to play against?

JW: I really don’t know everyone in the tournament, but it will definitely have to be the Duke guys or the State guys. It’s so competitive, and the gym is always packed for those games.

NCPA: When you have a team or player that you really want to play against, what do you think about during a game?

JW: I’m really not thinking about one specific thing. I’m making sure that I’m focused on the play. Taking it one thing at a time and having fun. When you do that most of the time things take care of themselves.

NCPA: Tell us about the community service you’ve done.

JW: I do a lot of camps like Sam Perkins Camp and some other camps, and camps for kids who are unfortunate. I just try to mentor them and keep them motivated. It gives them a chance to watch me play, you know, motivate them.

Look out for more interviews next week and follow Justin @mynameisjwatts.

NC Pro-Am Interviews: Kyrie Irving

Above the Rim Exclusives: Interviews with your favorite SJG Pro-Am Players

By Anna LaRew - Player Correspondent

As the excitement of the NC Pro-Am tournament nears this weekend, I took a minute to get to know another talented athlete, Kyrie Irving.

NCPA: A lot of players that go to Duke aren’t your typical “one and done” players, which you have the potential to be. Was that something you considered in making your decision?

KI: Honestly, I’m not really worried about that. It wasn’t my main focus. I’m going to Duke for Basketball and an education. The one and done thing, it’s in the back of my mind, like it would be for anybody. But, I’m not really thinking about it. I’m focused on school.

NCPA: Have you possibly talked to Austin Rivers about playing at Duke? Him getting to play with you may make Duke a more inviting option.

KI: Well, me and Austin were together for about 3 weeks at the USA Basketball Camp. We really developed an even better relationship. Him coming to Duke, that’s always going to be a plus for our team but that’s up to him.

NCPA: At the Pro-Am you’re going to play against a lot of guys that you will play during the season and also some guys you may never play against again. Who do you see as your biggest competition?

KI: Well, everyone is competition out here, every point guard I play against. Of course, I’m playing with my teammates, but I will probably end up playing against them because we have so many people on our team. You never know who is watching or who is on the court. It could be the person who is at the end of the bench that comes out to challenge you on the court. You never know.

NCPA: How do you feel about Duke winning the championship last year? How is that going to have an impact on this season?

KI: I was happy for my teammates that won and graduated. But I haven’t won anything. I’m just coming into the situation trying to win my first National Championship. I’m just coming in humble, trying to win a championship.

NCPA: We checked your twitter earlier and it looks like you were eating at Waffle house. What’s your favorite waffle?

KI: (Laughing) I eat late night at the Waffle House. I go at like 12:30, when no one is there. My favorite is chocolate chip. Double-chocolate chip.

Coaches in Christ defeats Team 212, 61-59

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Marques Oliver and Bishop Daniels made crucial plays down the stretch to lead Coaches in Christ to a stunning comeback victory over Team 212.

A forward from Delaware State, Oliver scored 13 of his team's 15 first quarter points as he displayed excellent offensive play from the inside-out. NCCU stars C.J. Wilkerson and Landon Clement were huge for Team 212, as the two nailed three pointers to lead their team to a 20-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Clement continued to snipe out baskets from deep as his teammate Dijon Manns got his hands dirty down low. Marcus Wells hit two of four free throws early in the second quarter which led Team 212 to a 31-19 lead.

Word of God guard Bishop Daniels kept Coaches in Christ in the game with aggressive play on both ends. After his reverse two-handed dunk and floater off the glass, Coaches in Christ trailed only by five, but Oliver and Wells found some points before intermission that led to a 36-28 halftime lead for Team 212.

Daniels, who had 16 points on the night, continued to drop points on Team 212 in the second half. His lay-up midway through the third quarter gave Coaches in Christ their first lead of the half at 45-44. Manns' post play on the other end shortly regained the advantage for Team 212, but Coaches in Christ led going into the final quarter after a lay-in at the buzzer by Oliver, which made for two of his 26 points.

The game was up for grabs in a low scoring fourth period, and it appeared that Coaches in Christ was sure to take it away when Daniels hit the second of two free throws with 1:18 on the clock to give the team a five point lead. Wilkerson finally breathed some life into Team 212 with a clutch three, cutting the lead to 61-59 with under a minute remaining.

With 10.8 seconds to go, Oliver stepped up to the charity stripe with a chance to make it a two possession game, but missed each of the two free throws. On the final possession, Clement was unable to get open for Team 212, and Charles Futrell threw up a deep prayer from the top of the key that would not fall. Daniels pulled down the rebound and Coaches in Christ escaped with a 61-59 win.

Hendrick of Durham 89 Team Jamison 78

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Led by incoming freshman phenom Kyrie Irving, Hendrick of Durham was able to defeat Seth Curry and Team Jamison in the third contest on Tuesday night.

Irving and teammate Josh Hairston were the stars of the game, combining for 47 of their team's 89 points. NCCU's Nick Chasten also stepped up to set the tone early, helping Hendrick of Durham to an immediate six point advantage.

Thanks to some of the young talent, Team Jamison was able to find some first quarter buckets. Jalen Jones nailed a three ball and Quincy Miller added a lay-up and a baseline jam to close the gap, but Hairston's turn-around jumper at the buzzer boosted Hendrick of Durham to a 19-14 lead after the first period.

Team Jamison roared back at the start of the second quarter, as a pair of Seth Curry treys earned the squad its first lead of the game at 23-22. Irving demonstrated excellent versatility, slamming in an alley-oop and later knocking down a three of his own. Hendrick of Durham led by eight, but Miller's sensational play led to eight straight points as his old-fashioned three point play knotted the score at 35-35.

Just as Team Jamison seemed to be gaining the momentum, Irving reminded everyone once again of why he is so dangerous. Irving scored a quick six points, leading to a Team Jamison timeout with 14.9 seconds remaining. His three baskets would prove to be the final field goals of the half, and Hendrick of Durham led by six at the half.

The highlight of the third quarter came in the opening minutes when Hairston slammed in a thundering dunk over Duke teammate Miles Plumlee. The jam contributed to a Hendrick of Durham run that resulted in an 11 point lead, but Curry's perimeter play for Team Jamison cut the deficit to three just before the fourth quarter.

Curry continued to be a headache for the opposition in the final quarter, but the outstanding performances on the other end of Irving (game-high 31 points) and VMI's Stanley Okoye ultimately made the difference. With just minutes remaining, Okoye's lay-up stretched the advantage to 16. Plumlee found some points down low in the final seconds, but it was too late for Team Jamison. Hendrick of Durham came away with the win, 89-78.

D1 Sports 75 Lucky Seven 61

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Game two of the evening at the Greater NC Pro-Am featured some big time names as Duke's Ryan Kelly and D1 Sports tipped off against former Western Kentucky forward Adarius Pegues and Lucky Seven.

Pegues helped push his team to an early 9-2 lead after converting the old-fashioned three point play and following shortly after with a trey ball. D1 Sports eventually got into a rhythm on the other end, and a James Crowder tip-in closed the lead to 15-14. Despite Kelly's lay-in as time expired, Lucky Seven still held on to a one point lead after one quarter of play.

Quincy Miller, the number two overall high school prospect in the class of 2011, helped D1 Sports reclaim the advantage, scoring five of his 19 points in the second quarter. Duke's Andre Dawkins contributed to the action, bringing Blue Devil fans to their feet after throwing the ball off the glass to set up Ryan Kelly for a two-handed jam. D1 Sports held a 33-28 lead at the half.

NCCU's Dominique Sutton showed off the high percentage shot in the third quarter, slamming in a pair of dunks to the crowd's delight. D1 Sports had answers on the other side of the floor, however. Kelly and Marcus Fisher added a pair of three points to protect their lead, taking a seven point advantage into the fourth period.

Miller's flashy play was the story of the fourth quarter as D1 Sports ran away with the lead. The high school standout showed off his deadly range, exceptional ball-handling and seemingly unstoppable ability to penetrate to the rack. As the buzzer sounded, Miller put the icing on the cake as he showed tremendous elevation on a windmill slam for his team's final two points. D1 Sports got the W, 75-61.

Team Dreamworks 87 Body of Christ 76

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Tuesday night at the Greater NC Pro-Am opened up with a showdown between Team Dreamworks and Body of Christ. The match-up featured loads of talent, including Duke's Nolan Smith (Team Dreamworks) and Mason Plumlee (Team Dreamworks), and N.C. State transfer Johnny Thomas (Body of Christ).

Team Dreamworks found some buckets early, and after an Austin Hatch three ball midway through the first quarter, they boasted an 18-6 lead. Thomas brought his team back into the game, scoring a quick seven points, but Marshall Plumlee's follow-up basket at the buzzer helped Team Dreamworks maintain a 24-17 lead after the first period.

Body of Christ struggled from the field in the second quarter and their opponents took advantage. Mason Plumlee threw down a pair of alley-oop dunks, including a monstrous slam with nine seconds remaining in the half, stretching his team's lead to 18 going into halftime.

The game got even more out of hand in the third quarter, with Smith and Mason Plumlee racking up points in an all-out beating. Tyree Graham's fade-away jumper for Team Dreamworks extended the lead to 26, the largest margin of the game. Rhode Island sharp shooter Akeem Richmond responded by scoring the last seven points of the third quarter, but his team still trailed by a score of 67-48 at the final intermission.

Thomas scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, but the difference was too much to overcome. Nolan Smith dropped in a game-high 28 points as Team Dreamworks ran away with the 87-76 victory.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lucky Seven 75 Body of Christ 69

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Two-time NBA champion Josh Powell led Lucky Seven into their match-up against Body of Christ for the final game of Thursday night at the Greater NC Pro-Am.

Lucky Seven got to work early with Powell and teammate J.B. Wilson throwing down highlight dunks. In the final seconds of the quarter, Jose Frias contributed to the team's early scoring with a reverse scoop off the glass that pushed Lucky Seven to a 16-9 lead going into the first break.

Rhode Island's Akeem Richmond started to get hot for Body of Christ in the second quarter, and eventually hit a three pointer that gave his team a one point lead. The advantage was not held for long, as Lucky Seven's Hayward Fain made plays on both sides of the court. Fain helped retake the lead for his team, and Wilson's two-handed slam with just six seconds to go put Lucky Seven ahead by five at the half.

No one could stop Lucky Seven in the opening minutes of the second half, as they stormed out to a 14 point lead that led to a Body of Christ timeout with 5:24 left in the third quarter. Richmond hit a pair of free throws to close out the third quarter, but his team still had a 55-42 deficit to fight heading into the final period of play.

Lucky Seven led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, but Richmond would not let his team go down quietly. With 40 seconds to go, Richmond hit the final three of his 11 straight points after single-handedly bringing Body of Christ back into the game.

In the end, it was not enough. Despite Richmond's 27 points, Lucky Seven sealed the victory after Terrell McIntire hit all four of his free throw attempts in the final minute. Lucky Seven got the win, 75-69.

Team Stackhouse 70 Team Jamison 69

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

After suffering their first loss of the season earlier this week, Team Stackhouse bounced back to defeat Team Jamison in a contest that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Duke senior Nolan Smith suited up for Team Jamison, but struggled from long range in the opening half. While Smith had trouble finding his touch from deep, his teammates got involved, and Lance Randall's lay-in at the end of the first quarter put Team Jamison ahead, 18-13.

Team Stackhouse's E.J. Williams was a key contributor on the other end, but his team trailed by nine at halftime after his teammates Charles Ward and Chris Hill were unable to hit their shots from the charity stripe in the second quarter. Williams was huge in the second half, scoring 17 of his 26 points in the final two quarters. He also dished out plenty of assists to get other members of Team Stackhouse involved, and Jolly Manning's three point play in the final minute of the third quarter cut the margin to two. Smith finally found his stroke just in time to kill the run, hitting a three at the buzzer to stretch his team's lead to 54-49.

Smith and Williams played tremendously in the final period, going back and forth, hitting several impressive buckets. At the nine minute mark, Smith brought the crowd to its feet after converting a four point play, but Williams silenced the fans in dark blue with a long range three in response.

With four minutes to go in the game, Ward missed the second of two free throws, but Manning skied for the rebound and passed the ball to Ward who dropped in a lay-up despite getting fouled. After hitting the bonus, Ward gave Team Stackhouse a 60-58 lead.

The game remained close to the end, and Team Jamison, trailing by one, in-bounded the ball with 26.2 seconds on the clock. Smith dribbled some time off the clock so his team could get the last shot. As the seconds wound down, Smith found Omar Khannai open in the corner for three, but Khannai was unable to hit the shot. Team Stackhouse escaped with close victory of 70-69.

Coaches in Christ 72 Team McGladrey 67 (2 OT)

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Fans witnessed the first double-overtime thriller of the summer at the Greater NC Pro-Am in the second game of the evening, as Coaches in Christ snagged the victory over Team McGladrey.

Jawad Williams dressed out for Team McGladrey and showed off his range early with a pull-up three ball in the first quarter. Coaches in Christ's Billy McDade responded on the other end with a two-hand jam, but Hayward Fan's floater at the buzzer put Team McGladrey up 18-17 after the first period.

Team McGladrey appeared to be putting the game away in the second quarter, after a Williams three ball capped an 11-0 run to put them up by 14, but Marques Oliver's three point play ended the run and sparked some life into Coaches in Christ. McDade hit a free throw later in the quarter to convert a three point play of his own, bringing his team back within seven. Fain stepped up on the other end, however, and his two successful free throw attempts with three seconds on the clock pushed Team McGladrey to a 42-32 halftime lead.

McDade scored seven points for his team in the third quarter as Coaches in Christ began to close in on the lead, but Dwayne Sims hit a pair of deep jumpers to keep a nine point lead going into the final period. In the last 10 minutes of regulation, Coaches in Christ clawed their way back into the game, and with 1:37 left, Oliver was good in completing another three point play to tie the game at 64-64. Both teams struggled at finding the basket in the closing seconds, and Fain's prayer before the buzzer fell short and Chris Hill was unable to tip in the rebound. The score remained at 64-64.


In the two minute overtime period, each team was hesitant and kept from forcing shots. At the 1:25 mark, Fain was dribbling at the top of the key when Fain stole the rock and took it to the other end for the high percentage slam. Oliver had an answer, grabbing two points down low after a pass from McDade. On the final possession of the first overtime, Fain dribbled out the clock for the final shot, but McDade rejected his attempt and the putbacks did not go. The game was forced to double overtime.

Greater NC Pro Am rules state that the first team to score five points in the second overtime is awarded the victory. Coaches in Christ's Terrence Sutton made an immediate statement with a follow-up slam to get the first two points for his team. Hill knocked down the first of two free throws for Team McGladrey after being fouled by Sutton, but Norbert Randall's basket just seconds later put Coaches in Christ just one point away from victory. Down the stretch, Team McGladrey could not find a way to score, and Oliver's tip-in bucket got the W for Coaches in Christ, 72-67.

Team Navy drops Team 212, 87-78

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

It was raining three pointers early Thursday night at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium as NCCU sharp shooter Landon Clement and Team 212 tipped off against Jawad Williams and Team Navy.

Team 212 got off to an early lead after Clement knocked down three trey balls early in the first quarter. After a timeout with 2:14 remaining in the first period, Team Navy bounced back as Charles Ward and former ECU standout Derrick Wiley took over the game to reclaim a one point lead going into the first intermission.

Jawad Williams added on to Team Navy's success later in the first half, knocking down a pair of free throws and later converting an old-fashioned three point play. With six seconds remaining before halftime, Team Navy's Andre McCollum drove to the rack for the final basket of the second quarter, putting his team up by a score of 39-34.

Clement, who had 24 points on the game, continued to put on a three point shooting clinic in the second half. Despite his dominance from the perimeter, the opposition seemed to always have an answer on the other end. Toward the end of the third quarter, Dominique Sutton penetrated through the lane for a lay-up that stretched Team Navy's lead to 14.

Team 212 would not go down easy, though. Charles Futrell scored a quick seven points to cut the deficit to five. After a timeout by Team Navy with just over six minutes remaining, Wiley and Ward once again led their team on a run to maintain a comfortable lead. Their opponents were unable to recover, and Team Navy came away with an 87-78 win.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Duke Guards Could Be Among Nation's Elite

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Nolan Smith has only made two appearances at the Greater NC Pro-Am this summer, but his 38.5 points per game average is higher than any single game point total reached by any other player in the league. Furthermore, he has displayed excellent ability to get to the basket, which can go along with his improved ball-handling skills.

Smith's Duke teammate, incoming freshman Kyrie Irving, has been sensational in his four regular season games. One of the most polished point guards in the recruiting class of 2010, Irving is expected to step in as an immediate starter for the Blue Devils. Breaking the 30 point mark on two occasions this season, he has shown off his scoring capabilities and his strength of making all the right decisions.

With a proven veteran in Smith and a freshman phenom in Irving, Duke boasts what may ultimately prove to be the best backcourt in the nation. The older of the two averaged 17.4 points per game last season, including a 29 point performance over Baylor in the Elite Eight. Smith's role will only increase with the departure of First Team All-ACC guard Jon Scheyer, but Irving's presence is likely to ease the transition as he has lived up to the hype throughout this summer, offering a skill-set that is unmatched by most other point guards in the conference.

What makes the offensive juggernaut even scarier is the depth that they will have at the guard position this season. Sophomore Andre Dawkins will see increased minutes and could potentially compete for a starting spot with redshirt sophomore Seth Curry, who will be eligible to participate this season. Both have been impressive this summer, most notably last Thursday when they went head-to-head against one another, as Dawkins dropped an eye-opening 36 points and Curry came up with 28 on the other end.

The talent held within this backcourt will drive opposing coaches insane. When one player has an off night, there will likely be another to pick up the slack. Duke will have at least one guard coming off the bench that most other teams in the country would love to have as a starter. That can only mean good things for the team in dark blue.

Lucky Seven 74 Team Stackhouse 63

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

A pair of NBA stars took the floor in the final contest of Tuesday night as Josh Powell and Lucky Seven gave Jawad Williams and Team Stackhouse their first loss of the season.

Fans were brought to their feet early in the opening minutes, as Powell skied to finish an alley-oop slam, pushing his team to an early lead. Miles Plumlee kept the game from getting out of hand early for Team Stackhouse, scoring each of his team's first seven points. E.J. Williams came off the bench to score a quick five points to reclaim the lead for Team Stackhouse, but Lucky Seven held the advantage after the first quarter after Adam Constantine hit a jumper with 20 seconds remaining in the period.

Williams displayed his ability to hit shots from deep, taking the lead for his team with a three ball midway through the second quarter. Jalen Jones increased the margin to four by hitting a pair of free throws, but Powell's presence down low brought Lucky Seven right back in the game. With 15 seconds left in the half, Powell got two points in the post, knotting the game at 30-30 going into halftime.

Powell took over in the second half, becoming a scoring machine for Lucky Seven. Plumlee hit a couple of trey balls for Team Stackhouse, but Powell helped his team to a ten point lead after converting a three point play the old-fashioned way. Williams added on to Team Stackhouse's perimeter shooting with two more three balls at the end of the third quarter, and his team trailed by just seven going into the final period.

In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Powell picked up right where he left off, slamming in two of his 29 points to keep the scoring going. Although Powell could not be stopped on offense, Team Stackhouse found more scoring from Williams, who ended the game with 22 points. It appeared that Lucky Seven's advantage was being threatened, but Hayward Fain drew a charge off Plumlee with 1:11 remaining to seal the deal. Lucky Seven grabbed a big win, 74-63.

D1 Sports 79 Hendrick of Durham 72

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Duke fans were in for another treat in the third game of the night as Ryan Kelly and D1 Sports squared off with Kyrie Irving and Hendrick of Durham.

The game remained close throughout a high scoring first quarter, as Kelly's accurate shooting from the field was countered by Chris Hill's attack for the high percentage shot. Hill threw down a pair of two-handed dunks at the end of the opening period, but D1 Sports held on to a 26-23 lead.

Michael Deloach and NCCU sophomore Nick Chasten contributed several buckets for Hendrick of Durham in the second quarter, but James Crowder and Jared Johnson each found their way to the free throw line to extend the lead for D1 Sports. Kelly's slam dunk with 20 seconds remaining stretched the deficit to nine and left Hendrick of Durham trailing at halftime by a score of 48-39.

Hendrick of Durham stepped up in the third quarter, racking up points to close the gap. Irving's breakaway lay-up followed by a pair of free throws by Deloach brought the score within two, but Jeffrey Hunter's three for D1 Sports put an end to the run.

With just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Chasten hit the second of two free throws to trim the difference to two, but it was as close as Hendrick of Durham would get. Hunter answered with another three pointer, and D1 Sports never recovered. Kelly scored 21 points and Crowder had 18 points as D1 Sports pulled off the win by a margin of 79-72.

Team Dreamworks 76 Team McGladrey 60

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Team Dreamworks came away with a convincing win in the second game of the evening after defeating Cleveland Cavalier Jawad Williams and Team McGladrey. The game may not have been as exhilarating as the one that preceded it, but Nolan Smith's 41-point performance was possibly the most impressive of the summer.

Mason Plumlee pushed Team Dreamworks to a quick four-point lead, first finding Jeneri Cyrus for two points and then forcing a steal and throwing down a thundering jam. Williams had answers on the other end, knocking down a free throw to convert a three point play and following shortly after with a three ball.

It was then that Smith started his scoring spree.

After hitting a pair of threes, Smith showed off his ball-handling skills, crossing up a defender and penetrating through the lane for a lay-up. Smith had 12 points in the quarter, helping his team to a 27-18 lead at the end of the period.

Marshall Plumlee, a highly touted 2011 recruit who recently committed to Duke, hustled for two second chance points to help extend Team Dreamworks' lead to 11. The team took a 45-32 advantage into halftime after Smith once again broke out his deadly cross-over on two defenders, driving through the paint to get a lay-in at the buzzer.

Rutgers guard Tyree Graham had a strong third quarter for Team McGladrey, hitting an early turnaround jumper and a three pointer off a Williams assist. It was not enough to overcome Smith, however. The Blue Devil guard scored 19 points in the second half, establishing himself as an all-around offensive threat.

"All the hard work that I've put in is really paying off and I can't wait for the season to start," Smith said.

Williams and Graham hit several three pointers in the second half, but it was not enough to cancel out Team Dreamworks' offensive power. Mason put down a follow-up slam off a rare miss by Smith, and Team Dreamworks went on to snatch the win, 76-60.

Smith was seemingly unstoppable on Tuesday night, which drew the question of whether or not anyone in college basketball would be able to stop a back-court made up of he and incoming Duke freshman Kyrie Irving.

"I would like to think nobody can stop us," Smith said. "Me and [Irving] both have a great relationship and our chemistry is going to show for it."

Body of Christ defeats Team 212, 70-68

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Tuesday night at the Greater NC Pro-Am started out with a nail-biter as Body of Christ narrowly escaped Team 212 with a two point victory.

The game remained close throughout the first half. Body of Christ's Adarius Pegues, a former Western Kentucky forward, got things started early with a two-handed dunk. He showed off his range just seconds later with a deep two as his team jumped ahead.

NCCU star C.J. Wilkerson found the majority of the buckets for Team 212 in the beginning of the game. After making his first seven free throw attempts, Wilkerson contributed 11 points in the opening quarter, but his team still trailed by one at the first intermission.

Wilkerson's teammates began to heat things up in the second period as Charles Futrell took advantage of a second chance opportunity to reclaim the lead for Team 212. Chris Hill also took part in the action, adding to the team's lead by throwing down a 360 dunk to the crowd's delight. Hill made things happen offensively throughout the half, and led his team to a 28-25 lead going into halftime after converting the old-fashioned three point play with just 2.2 seconds on the clock.

Team 212 stormed out to a nine point lead to start the second half after Futrell made an immediate statement with a pair of electrifying jams. Pegues answered with a quick four points to end the run and keep Body of Christ in the game. Wilkerson increased his offensive production by finding his way to the charity stripe several times throughout the third quarter. After nailing 16 of 17 from the line, Wilkerson scored 24 points on the night.

Despite trailing early in the third period, Body of Christ found some offensive production from Rhode Island guard Akeem Richmond and N.C. State transfer Johnny Thomas. The two combined for three perimeter shots, and Thomas added on with a pair of free throws and a highlight dunk off the backboard to help boost Body of Christ to a six point lead entering the final quarter.

Dwayne Sims would not allow his team to go down without a fight. The NCCU guard kept Team 212 in the game in the final minutes, responding to a Richmond three pointer with a trey of his own with just 13 seconds remaining, cutting the deficit to one. Body of Christ's John Brown hit the second of two free throws after drawing a foul, but Wilkerson tied the game with 7.5 second left after being fouled by Thomas.

It appeared the game was headed for overtime, but Thomas stepped up once again to get the clutch points. With just 2.5 seconds remaining, Thomas pulled up for a baseline jumper, but was fouled by Futrell. Thomas was successful on both free throw attempts, and Body of Christ claimed the victory after Futrell's halfcourt prayer bounced off the back of the rim. It was the second time this season that Thomas hit a game-winning bucket, after his buzzer-beating three propelled Body of Christ over Team Jamison in an overtime thriller on July 8.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Team Jamison 103 D1 Sports 98

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The level of competition was high in the final game Thursday night as Andre Dawkins and D1 Sports tipped off against Seth Curry and Team Jamison.

Dawkins and Curry starting things off early, going back and forth and hitting constant three balls in a high scoring first period. Los Angeles Lakers forward Josh Powell joined Duke's Miles Plumlee to provide some scoring down low for Team Jamison. Their team trailed early, but a Powell lay-in followed by two successful free throws by Curry left Team Jamison trailing only by five at the end of the first period.

Powell continued to dominate down low, muscling in two points over Duke's Ryan Kelly and later banging his way to a bucket off the glass. D1 Sports got things done on the other end, as Dawkins was seemingly unstoppable from three point range. Brandon Smith rained in a trey of his own at the buzzer to stretch D1 Sports' lead to 58-51.

Team Jamison stormed back in the second half, as Curry dished multiple assists to Powell down low. Michko Ndiaye's three ball gave Team Jamison a one point lead, their first since the opening period.

D1 Sports was cold toward the end of the quarter, and Plumlee and Powell took advantage by extending their team's lead to eight points. Dawkins finally ended his team's drought with just under a minute to go, dropping in a deep three, but Team Jamison led 77-70 going into the final period.

Dawkins found his rhythm once again, single-handedly keeping his team in the game. Team Jamison led by nine, but D1 Sports came back after a behind-the-back pass from Dawkins to Kelly for a slam followed by yet another Dawkins three pointer. Dawkins had 36 points on the night.

D1 Sports only trailed by three before Powell quickly scored five points to maintain the advantage. Plumlee contributed a putback dunk with 1:40 to go in the game, and Powell's jam with just over a minute remaining put the contest out of doubt. Team Jamison was the victor in an impressive 103-98 win.

While the Blue Devils shined in this game, former Wolfpack star Powell scored a team-high 31 points.

"It was a great experience being able to represent N.C. State," Powell joked after the game.

After winning his second straight NBA championship just over a month ago, Powell discussed the benefits of participating in the Greater NC Pro-Am.

"We're all just having fun, getting better and working on our games," Powell said.

Powell and Team Jamison are scheduled to face off with Kyrie Irving and Hendrick of Durham at 8 PM next Tuesday, as Team Jamison is set to square off with Team Stackhouse at 8 PM next Thursday.

Team Stackhouse 48 Coaches in Christ 43

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Team Stackhouse was without their Tar Heel stars Thursday night in their match-up against Coaches in Christ. The game was highlighted by physical defense on both ends, which led to a low scoring contest.

Corey Watkins hit a jumper midway through the first quarter to gain a 7-0 lead for Team Stackhouse. Coaches in Christ did not find its first bucket until the 4:44 mark when Trent Bivens knocked down a deuce to end the drought. With 23 seconds remaining in the quarter, Bivens threw down a monstrous two-handed slam for a 10-9 lead, but Dominique Sutton responded on the other end with a lay-up at the buzzer to put Team Stackhouse up 11-10.

Coaches in Christ struggled even more from the field in the second quarter, scoring just 6 points in the period. Sutton's one-handed slam with four seconds remaining put his team up 27-16 at the half.

John Brown helped bring back Coaches in Christ in the second half with a pair of lay-ups to cut the deficit. E.J. Williams hit a deep perimeter shot for Team Stackhouse, but Marcus Gaines responded by hitting all of his free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt. Team Stackhouse led only by six going into the final quarter.

Team Stackhouse had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, but missed six straight free throws in the final minute. Adrian Woodard's tip-in for Coaches in Christ trimmed the margin to three, but with 16.5 seconds remaining, Williams finally hit a free throw. Team Stackhouse improved their record to 6-0, defeating Coaches in Christ, 48-43.

Although the game may not have been like the high scoring thriller that preceded it, Stackhouse was content with the way his team found a way to get the win.

"These guys want to get better," Stackhouse said. "Obviously they don't get a lot of chances to play with Reggie [Bullock] and Harrison [Barnes] and all those guys, but we got the chance to get them some minutes."

Stackhouse also noted that an undefeated record his team is working for an undefeated regular season.

"We want to go into the tournament with the number one seed. That's a goal of ours."

Hendrick of Durham 110 Team McGladrey 96

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The second match-up of the evening featured incoming Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Hendrick of Durham as they squared off against Rutgers' Tyree Graham and Team McGladrey.

Former Kentucky star John Wall was in attendance as Irving put on a show from the start. Irving had nine points in a high scoring first quarter. Johnny Thomas, who suited up for Team McGladrey, slammed in a windmill dunk to the delight of the fans, but his team trailed by eight after an Irving lay-up with five seconds left in the opening period.

Mikael Faulkner came off the bench for Team McGladrey to knock down a pair of threes at the beginning of the second quarter, but Hendrick of Durham was on a scoring spree with big baskets by Graham, Michael Deloach and Chris Hill. Their team led 58-47 at the break.

Thomas continued his impressive play, tossing the ball off the backboard to set himself up for a two-handed dunk. Graham kept the game within reach midway through the third quarter, hitting a trey for three of his 32 points, but Irving and Duke teammate Josh Hairston continued to dominate on the other end. Graham knocked down one of two free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining, but Hendrick of Durham was up by 12 at the end of the quarter.

Both teams kept the scoring going in the final period of play. Thomas grabbed two of his 26 points on a one-handed jam, and Faulkner hit another deep three that cut Hendrick of Durham's lead to just seven. Deloach and NCCU's Nick Chasten had answers, however. The two each threw down a dunk on the other end, and Hendrick of Durham came away with the victory, 110-96.

Team Navy 68 Body of Christ 50

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

After suffering their first loss of the season on July 15, Body of Christ was unable to bounce back in their contest against Team Navy on Thursday night.

Team Navy leaped ahead early, with N.C. State's Kendall Smith and former ECU standout Derrick Wiley dropping in several buckets. A trey by Smith put his team up by 10, and Kansas State's Dominique Sutton put in a fast break lay-up in the final minute to take a 22-11 lead into the second quarter.

Corey Evans stretched Team Navy's lead to 14 in the second period after knocking down a three pointer, but Body of Christ's Jordan Carter hit a perimeter shot in response. Adarius Pegues helped cut the deficit, swishing in a turnaround jumper, but Marcus Wells' lay-in right before the buzzer extended the lead back to double digits as Team Navy took a 36-25 advantage into halftime.

Body of Christ's Johnny Thomas stepped up in the third quarter, knocking down a pair of three balls and also contributing a crowd-pleasing two-handed dunk. Thomas was having success from the field, but it was not enough to cancel out the play on the other end. Charles Ward's highlight jam over Pegues was one of many baskets that kept the lead in Team Navy's favor. After Smith was successful on the first of two free throw attempts with just 4.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the team was ahead 51-39 heading into the final intermission.

In the final period, Team Navy ran away with the game. After Wiley (21 points) completed an old-fashioned three point play and Ward nailed a pair of free throws for two of his 10 points, Team Navy led by 21. Body of Christ's John Brown provided some offense toward the end of the game, but his team was unable to overcome the difference. Team Navy was on the winning side of the 68-50 blowout.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NC Pro-Am Interviews: Seth Curry

By Anna LaRew - Player Correspondent

Above the Rim Exclusives: Interviews with your favorite SJG Pro-Am Players

July 15, 2010, Durham, NC – It’s week two of the NC Pro-Am in NC Central’s McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. The mayhem has calmed down since the first two games. Last week, the closest parking spot was 1.5 miles way and if you didn’t arrive before 6:15 p.m, you weren’t getting in the gym and definitely not getting a seat. This Thursday I got a chance to sit down with rising basketball star Seth Curry.

: How many summers have you played at the Pro-Am? What is the competition like?

SC: This summer is my first time. It’s good competition. Everyone on the court knows how to play, people from other colleges NC State, UNC, and Central. You know, its good competition every night.

NCPA: Are you excited about the transfer from Liberty to Duke?

SC: It’s been a long wait. I’m ready to get there. I’m real excited.

NCPA: When you were young what player did you want to be and why?

SC: My favorite player was always Tracy McGrady. My dad played in the NBA so I always wanted to be like him.

NCPA: In regular season and summer what team do you most want to play against and why?

SC: Definitely Carolina, because that’s the rivalry. You know, it has been around forever. I can’t wait to actually experience that. Summer league, I like playing against my teammates at Duke. I’m on Team Jamison here. I get to go against them, talk some trash.

NCPA: How does basketball give you a chance to give back to the community?

SC: There are always eyes on you, especially at a school like Duke. You have eyes on you whether you do right or wrong. I’m held to a higher standard now, you know? I have to live up to that. Three or four times last year we went to a local elementary school. When we go there kids know who we are. You know, funny little kids. It's cool to get in there and show them how getting and education is important, because sports may not always be there.

Check back with NC Pro-Am later for more exclusives. Follow us on twitter @NCProAm and Seth @sdotcurry.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Greater NC Pro-Am Midseason Report

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

We're past halfway through the Greater NC Pro-Am regular season. After getting a chance to watch some local stars, here is the forecast for a few area teams:

Duke: Coming into the season, the Blue Devils are the clear cut favorite to win the ACC. But after catching a glimpse at all potential starters with the exception of Kyle Singler, we now have an idea of just how good this team can be. Very good. Excellent. For opposing teams, terrifying.

Kyrie Irving was a scoring machine in the two games he played this summer. He also is expected to fill the biggest hole in Duke's offense this season, taking over the point guard position that Jon Scheyer thrived at last season. Irving will bring an up-tempo game that will fit well with athletes such as Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Barring chemistry issues, he should have no problem making an instant impact for this team.

Nolan Smith only took part in one contest this summer, but it was impressive to say the least. What was more impressive than Smith's 36 points was the way he led his team to a win after erasing a 12 point deficit coming into the final quarter. He was possibly the most improved player in the conference last season, and the Devils will benefit enormously if he continues to get better.

Duke's biggest question is still the front court. Miles Plumlee has displayed excellent post play, but struggles when he is not playing with his back to the basket. Mason Plumlee is a monster athlete who will excel in transition, but it will be interesting to see how he plays against a proven big man such as Tracy Smith. If the Plumlees can step up with Ryan Kelly logging in valuable minutes off the bench, there is no doubt that the potential is there for a repeat.

North Carolina
: Tar Heel fans have a lot to look forward to with the way Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and John Henson have played so far this summer. The trio has led Team Stackhouse to a 5-0 record, and in one game, accounted for 73 of their team's 76 points. Coming into the ACC, Barnes and Bullock join a team that was last year plagued by injuries and chemistry issues. As freshmen, they have something to offer that the Heels so blatantly lacked last season - a consistent three point shot.

Bullock has shown off his three ball all summer, and it has been most evident in situations when his team needs it the most. He rained plenty of treys on his way to 30 points in Team Stackhouse's first contest against Team McGladrey (featuring N.C. State star recruits). He also demonstrated how his size gives him a tremendous advantage over opposing guards, as his large frame helps him muscle his way to the rack, and his height makes him nearly impossible to defend on the perimeter.

So far, Barnes has been successful in living up to the hype. As the nation's top recruit in the class of 2010, Barnes is a fundamentally sound player with no major flaws in his game. After the way he has played so far this summer (averaging 26.3 points in his last 3 contests), it would not be unreasonable to expect Barnes to be a leader of this North Carolina squad as a freshman. It's rare to see an incoming player as mature as Barnes, and it will be interesting to see how Roy Williams will use him this season.

Although the Tar Heels have a great deal to be excited about, there are still issues with depth in the paint. Henson has put on about 30 pounds since this time last year and is sure to be more involved this season, but Tyler Zeller and Justin Knox are the only other true post players on the team. Henson and Zeller are both talented and have gotten their share of minutes, but may struggle against more physical players such as Jeff Allen and Tracy Smith. The point guard position is also a spot receiving a lot of attention. Larry Drew II has spent the past month working out in California and Kendall Marshall has not participated in the Pro-Am, so it is debatable how concerned fans should be about that spot. All that said, North Carolina fans can expect a return to the dance in the 2010-2011 season.

N.C. State: Wolfpack fans are the most excited about basketball than they have been in years, and for good reason. C.J. Leslie is a freak athlete and fits in well with the games of fellow 2010 recruits Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown. Leslie, who is arguably the biggest N.C. State commitment since Julius Hodge, will have a significant effect on opening things up for his team's offense. The Pack can play big, putting Leslie at the 3, or they can put him at the four and allow Brown and Scott Wood to find open perimeter shots.

Tracy Smith has only made a couple appearances this summer, but has shown off a new element to his game. Smith has been playing more face-up basketball and has begun to develop a mid-range jumper. Fellow forward Richard Howell has also shown off some range, even knocking down a trey every once in awhile. While Jordan Vandenberg still must get better in order to be a competitive big man in the ACC, Smith and Howell have established themselves as real forces at the forward spots.

The Wolfpack will receive a boost in the back court with the addition of Harrow and Brown. Brown is likely to be an immediate starter at shooting guard, as he offers size, a consistent three point shot and even some ball-handling skills. Harrow is an outstanding player, but his size (5'11'', 155) leads to questions as to whether or not he is physically ready, and Sidney Lowe hinted a few weeks ago that there is likely to be a freshman learning curve. Although he was inconsistent at times, Javi Gonzalez was a key player for the Pack toward the end of last season and is a reliable option at point guard who could help smooth the transition for Harrow.

N.C. State still had questions, but will undoubtedly have a better team this season. Wood has struggled some this summer from three point range, but with the addition of Brown, he won't have to worry about taking over a game by himself. Leslie not only has the potential to be an instant scorer and rebounder, but also provides depth that Sidney Lowe can use to draw up numerous scenarios. The three freshmen have shown no trouble in finding ways to score this summer and are all likely to play major roles on this upcoming N.C. State team. It's not yet time to start talking conference championship, but an NCAA tournament appearance is an absolutely reasonable expectation.

NCCU: Senior C.J. Wilkerson has made plenty of noise this summer, and will likely be the leader of this Eagles basketball team. Wilkerson has shown off inside-out play, as well as the ability to find his way to the free throw line to capitalize. After averaging 16.3 points for NCCU this past season, local fans should be ready for a huge senior season for Wilkerson.

Landon Clement joins Wilkerson, as he will be eligible to participate this year for the Eagles. Clement is a sniper from the outside who is impossible to stop once he gets hot. After facing top competition, he has averaged 14.5 points per game this summer, and will definitely make himself recognized this season as a go-to three point shooter.

Junior forward Nick Chasten has also contributed solid play this summer. At 6'7'', he serves as a threat from deep, but also can make powerful drives to the basket. He may not be the scorer that Wilkerson is, but he, along with sophomore forward Dijon Manns, has proven this summer that he can run with ACC talent. After averaging 10 points per game last season, Chasten will have a greater opportunity to shine this year on an improved and experienced NCCU basketball team.

D1 Sports 82 Team Dreamworks 79

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Duke fans caught a glimpse of their team's future, near and distant, in the third match-up of the night, as Mason Plumlee and Team Dreamworks looked to improve their record to 3-1 by grabbing a win over Ryan Kelly and D1 Sports.

Kelly got to work early on, putting in a lay up and following it by blocking a Plumlee shot attempt on the other end. While Kelly seemed to be going off on the offensive end, Team Dreamworks balanced out their scoring with Plumlee, Jeffrey Hunter and Word of God guard Bishop Daniels all making contributions. D1 Sports still led by six at the half, after Kelly got a tip-in with nine seconds left and hustled down the floor to get a block as time expired.

Daniels and Plumlee led an early second half rally for their team, and a follow-up basket by Marshall Plumlee with just over six minutes to go in the third quarter tied the game at 41-41. After two powerful dunks by Mason and a made free throw by Daniels, Dreamworks had a seven point advantage.

Despite the run by their opposition, D1 Sports would not be denied. Kelly hit a deep jumper with just over a minute to go, and knocked down a three at the buzzer to carry his team into the final quarter with a 58-57 lead.

The final 10 minutes of the game were extremely competitive, as Kelly (28 points) continued to hit crucial shots for D1 Sports. His three pointer with 5:39 remaining gave the team their first lead of the quarter. Duke guard and D1 Sports teammate Andre Dawkins helped maintain the lead, scoring six quick points to stretch the deficit to 76-69. At one point, Dawkins skied over Mason for a rebound that later proved to be a key factor in the game.

Mason and Daniels chipped away at the lead, finding ways to score inside the three point line, but found themselves trailing by three with just six seconds left on the clock. After a timeout, Team Dreamworks inbounded the ball to Thornton, but his deep three ball at the buzzer was no good. D1 Sports came away with the win, 82-79.

Hendrick of Durham 87 Lucky Seven 82

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Los Angeles Lakers forward Josh Powell suited up for the second game Tuesday night, joining Courtney Fells and Lucky Seven in their game against Duke freshman phenom Kyrie Irving and Hendrick of Durham.

Former Norfolk State star Michael Deloach was the star of the first quarter, hitting multiple three pointers and setting his Hendrick of Durham teammates up for early buckets. Deloach had 13 points in the opening period as his team took the first quarter, 23-15.

Irving showcased his athleticism right away in the second half, scoring on an alley-oop lay-in while getting fouled. He would hit the free throw to convert the old-fashioned three point play, and dominated throughout the rest of the half, scoring 10 of his 32 points in the second quarter. Powell was a monster in the post, slamming in two points at the end of the half, but Irving's play led Hendrick of Durham to an eight point halftime lead.

Lucky Seven rallied in the third quarter with excellent perimeter play from Fells and Chris Lightner. A Lightner three ball in the final minutes of the period earned Lucky Seven its first lead since the beginning of the game, but a pair of Irving free throws and a two-handed jam by Chris Hill reclaimed the lead for Hendrick of Durham, 65-61.

The game was well within reach for Lucky Seven through the majority of the final period. A Fells lay-up tied the game at 76-76, but James Zimmerman shot right back with a three pointer for Hendrick of Durham with just over a minute to play. Irving was perfect from the free throw line in the closing seconds, and Hendrick of Durham escaped with the 87-82 win.

Irving's performance was the clear difference, as he noted after the game that he is always ready to put on a show against such tough competition.

"You never know who is watching," Irving said. "The person that sits at the end of the bench can come in and challenge you on the court."

After Tuesday night, it is safe to say that Irving is ready to take on just about any challenge at the Greater NC Pro-Am.

Team Navy 74 Team Jamison 54

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Tuesday night at the Greater NC Pro-Am started with a blowout as Team Navy rolled over Team Jamison in the first contest of the evening.

Team Jamison came out firing right away, building a 9-0 lead as Michko Ndiaye and Duke's Seth Curry hit three perimeter shots right away. Kansas State's Dominique Sutton put the run to an end, sparking some emotion into Team Navy with a baseline dunk. A pair of Charles Ward free throws tied the game 9-9, and the team continued to succeed from the field, taking a 21-16 lead into the second quarter.

Curry struggled throughout the remainder of the first half, and Team Navy took advantage. N.C. State's Kendall Smith extended the lead to 10, dropping in a lay-up with 25 seconds to go, and Sutton's pull-up jumper at the buzzer gave his team a 12 point advantage entering halftime.

The intermission did not slow down Team Navy. Ward made the most of second chance opportunities, crashing the offensive boards for rebounds and getting put-back buckets. He also got his teammates involved, finding Derrick Wiley for a lay-up later in the period. Curry continued to have trouble from long range and did not score in the second half until the 4:08 mark when he knocked down a couple free throws. Mikael Faulkner came off the bench for Team Navy to score a quick six points, pushing his team to a 59-41 lead at the end of the quarter.

Team Navy continued their dominance for the rest of the game. Marcus Wells and Faulkner landed in a pair of deep treys early on, and their team held on for a convincing victory, 77-54.

State-Carolina Preview: What We Learned Part II

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The rematch between Team Stackhouse and Team McGladrey may not have been as high scoring as the first match-up, but it was just as competitive. After a second glance at these two teams, here are a few more things we can take away as we look forward to ACC play in the winter:

-North Carolina will only go as far as Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock will take them. That's not to say that those are the only two talented players on their basketball team, but their scoring ability fills what was a gaping hole on last year's squad. What happens when Barnes and Bullock don't produce offensively? Well, look no further than the score at the end of the first quarter in their game against Team McGladrey.

-C.J. Leslie will show off eye-opening dunks, but Pack fans will close their eyes when he goes to the free throw line. Leslie has tremendous athleticism, and Ryan Harrow is the perfect fit at point guard to bring all of that out. That said, it would not sit well with N.C. State fans if Leslie's struggles at the line were the difference in a real game against North Carolina. As improved as both of these teams will be come January, it is definitely possible that free throws could be all that separate the two rivals.

-N.C. State will not experience a repeat of the '07-'08 season. It sounds like an obvious statement, but with incoming talent such as J.J. Hickson and a young Tracy Smith, many ACC fans saw the Wolfpack as a top 5 team in the conference three seasons ago. The team eventually imploded as they were plagued throughout the entire season by chemistry issues and selfish play that flushed them to the bottom of the ACC. That will not happen with this group. These freshmen excel in ball movement and scoring distribution, as all of their focus is on getting the win. They may not have accomplished their goal tonight, but have taken a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Team Stackhouse 59 Team McGladrey 51

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The atmosphere was electric for the final game Tuesday night at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium, as Harrison Barnes and Team Stackhouse tipped off in a rematch against C.J. Leslie and Team McGladrey.

Team McGladrey came out storming in the opening minutes, as incoming N.C. State freshman point guard Ryan Harrow's feisty play on both ends led the team to an 11-0 start. Barnes responded by ending the run, throwing down a tomahawk dunk with authority, but C.J. Leslie had answers of his own on the other end, scoring six quick points. After Harrow knocked down two free throws with 12.7 seconds remaining in the first period, Barnes missed a fade-away jumper at the buzzer, ending the quarter with a score of 23-10.

The game appeared to be getting out of hand at the start of the second quarter as Team McGladrey took an 18 point lead following N.C. State's Lorenzo Brown's turnaround jumper and a Leslie three point play. Team Stackhouse was not ready to go down, though.

"We just fought back," Team Stackhouse forward John Henson said. "That's what we do."

A deep trey by future Tar Heel P.J. Hairston was just the start of what would become a key run for Team Stackhouse. E.J. Williams and North Carolina shooting guard Reggie Bullock joined in on the action with three balls of their own. After a Hairston lay-up in transition, Williams hit two free throws with a minute remaining to cut the deficit to one. The fans in light blue erupted as Barnes threw down a two-hand jam to earn Stackhouse its first lead of the game. Harrow's jumper at the buzzer fell short, and his team trailed at halftime, 34-33.

Aggressive defense seemed to be the theme of a low scoring third quarter. Leslie found his way to the charity stripe three times in the period, but was only successful on two of his six attempts. Brown put a couple points on the board toward the end of the quarter with a leaping slam, but Team Stackhouse still held a three point advantage entering the final ten minutes of play.

Leslie's struggles from the line continued. He missed his first two free throws of the fourth quarter, and ultimately hit just six of 14 attempts on the night. Henson's shot blocking also did not help matters for Team McGladrey, as he swatted away two lay-up attempts by future Wolfpacker Joseph Uchebo.

Henson's defensive presence in the post proved to be crucial down the stretch, but Barnes and Bullock were the game changers on the offense.

"They just take it to the basket and score at will," Henson said of the freshmen.

After Leslie (16 points) finally found his touch at the free throw line, knocking down two shots for the first lead change of the half, Barnes immediately responded with a three pointer. Barnes extended the lead shortly after, hitting a pair of free ones for the final two of his game-high 18 points. Harrow, who led his team with 17 points, fought back by kissing a floater off the glass, but it was not enough. A Henson dunk with just over a minute to play served as the dagger. Team Stackhouse was the victor in the grudge match, winning by a score of 59-51 to boost its record to 5-0.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Team 212 defeats Team Dreamworks, 67-54

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

Team 212 came into McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium Thursday night searching for their first victory of the season in a face-off with Team Dreamworks.

Long range scoring was prevalent in the opening period as N.C. State's Scott Wood and NCCU's Landon Clement teamed up to sink multiple three pointers for Team 212. Former NCCU forward Charles Futrell knocked down a pair of free throws for Team Dreamworks, but his team fell behind by eight after the first quarter.

David Williams attempted to bring some life into Team Dreamworks in the following quarter, throwing down a two-handed slam with authority, but Team 212 continued to increase the lead. N.C. State center Jordan Vandenberg made some noise with a monstrous dunk for Team 212, stretching the lead to 16. David Jordan helped maintain the lead with a baseline jumper at the end of the half, extending the deficit to 34-18 heading into intermission.

Word of God guard Bishop Daniels showed off outstanding elevation with a one-handed dunk in traffic to help keep Team Dreamworks in the game, but NCCU incoming freshman Emmanuel Chapman answered on the other end by getting to the charity stripe and hitting two free throws. A lay-up in the final minute by Team Dreamworks' Aloysius Henry only cut the difference to 13 at the end of the third quarter.

Team 212 was still hungry for their first win in the final quarter, as Wood hit another shot from deep for three of his 11 points. Wood displayed his passing ability just moments later, finding Futrell for an alley-oop. Mikael Faulkner hit a pair of late three pointers to add on to the thrashing and Clement hit another deep one for three of his game-high 19 points as Team 212 rolled over Team Dreamworks by a score of 67-54.

Team McGladrey 75 Team Jamison 62

By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator

The biggest game of the night came at the 8 PM tip off, as N.C. State's freshman trio and Team McGladrey looked to get their second win of the season as they squared off against Duke's Miles Plumlee and Team Jamison.

Duke guard Seth Curry started the game with a deep three, but Lorenzo Brown had an answer on the other end with a trey in response. Brown missed on his next attempt behind the arc, but his N.C. State and Team McGladrey teammate C.J. Leslie soared in with a two-handed slam to follow. Team McGladrey's Ryan Harrow got in on the action with a steal and a breakaway jam. The crowd erupted as Team McGladrey stretched the early deficit to nine points. Former N.C. A&T star J.J. Miller knocked down a deep two at the buzzer for Team Jamison, but his team was behind 20-13 going into the second quarter.

Despite trailing early, Team Jamison stormed back in the second period. Chris Hill's lay-up followed a Miller three pointer to cut the deficit to four, and a jumper by Plumlee with 49 seconds remaining tied the game at 34-34. With 26 seconds to go in the half, J.B. Wilson threw down a dunk off a Plumlee miss for the final bucket of the half, as Team Jamison took its first lead of the game, 36-34.

After a shaky second quarter, Team McGladrey refused to go down. Just minutes into the quarter, Brown found future Wolfpack big man Joseph Uchebo on a no-look pass for a two-handed slam to re-take the lead. Harrow drained a deep shot for three of his 18 points off an inbounds pass to continue the scoring for Team McGladrey. While his opposition was hitting some thrilling buckets, J.J. Miller put on a show of his own, penetrating into the lane and getting two points on a scooping basket. Team Jamison held on to a one point advantage heading into the final quarter.

Down the stretch, Team McGladrey's guards were too tough to defend. While Harrow was the primary dribbler for the squad, Brown showed off handles of his own, crossing up defenders and driving into the paint for lay-ups. Harrow slammed in a breakaway dunk early in the period as his team took the one point advantage. Team Jamison was killed in transition throughout the quarter, as Brown got the rebound and putback jam off of Leslie's failed between-the-legs dunk attempt. Leslie's powerful slam at the buzzer made for two of his 26 points as Team McGladrey claimed the 75-62 victory.