As the $2 million winner-take-all “The Basketball Tournament” heads into its second weekend with the “Super 16” round, teams will be looking for just four more wins to secure the jackpot and get bragging rights for a year as champion.
The Basketball Tournament is now in its fifth summer with an ESPN partnership and a multi-year deal with Puma in hand. Teams of college alumni and basketball professionals get picked largely by fan support and come together for a tournament that begins with 18 teams from four different regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, West).
A new wrinkle to watch for this year is the “Elam Ending.” Meant to provide some added drama in close games, the first dead ball at or after the four-minute mark in the 4th quarter will prompt the game clock to be shut completely off. At that point, seven points will be added to the winning team’s score. This new number is now the target number for the end of the game. Besides eliminating any type of time wasting strategies at the end of the game, this also will keep teams that are losing mentally in the game. All it takes is a run and if you’re in striking distance and you can drag a win up from under any team.
We were on hand to see an exciting Northeast regional round that saw The Talladega Knights, Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse Alumni), and Armored Athlete advance to Atlanta last weekend in Brooklyn. Here are a few players from each team that we are keeping I will be keeping my eyes on to be difference makers in the Super 16.
Frantz Massenat, PG/Talladega Knights
The #15 seeded Knights are technically cinderellas but after defeating #2 seeded HBC Sicklerville by 20 and defeating a Ronnie Brewer led Team Arkansas by 17 in the second round I have to wonder if they were underestimated just a little bit.
At the helm of this surprising team is Temple product Frantz Massenat. He has spent his past two professional seasons in Germany and impressed with his control of the game and elite playmaking ability. The Knights love to push in transition and have multiple guys who can shoot the 3 as well as finish inside on the break. Key to their track meet is Massenat racing up and down the floor and shredding the cracks in the defense before they can set up. Also a great shooter from 3, Massenat can play with any point guard in the tournament.
Keith Wright, PF/Talladega Knights
Keith Wright comes off of the bench for Talladega but is their best inside presence on both ends of the floor. A Harvard alum that has spent time everywhere ranging from NBA summer/G league to overseas play, Wright is a high energy rebounder with a soft touch around the basket offensively. The Knights got a steal in a guy with a 6’8 240 lb frame that gets up and down the floor like he does. Maybe most impressive is his passing as on the catch his eyes always look opposite for cutters on their way to the basket from the wing.
And there you have it!
Julian Gamble (Armored Athlete): 19 pts, 12 rbs pic.twitter.com/oMmycnEq8P
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) July 22, 2018
Eric Devendorf, SG/Boeheim’s Army
A crafty, sharpshooting 2 guard for the highly touted team filled with other former Orangemen like Hakim Warrick, Kris Joseph, and others. Devendorf regularly finishes at the basket over bigger defenders with either hand while also having the ability to stretch the floor from the outside. His scoring is within the flow of the game so there were many times where it felt like he had fewer points than what he did. He doesn’t have elite tools defensively, and teams looked to penetrate Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone scheme by attacking him first. How he responds on the defensive end of the floor will be key against hot-shooting Armored Athlete.
John Gillon, PG/Boeheim’s Army
Gillon was the best player for the Orangemen in their first two games. He is shooting an absurd 13-15 from the floor en route to a 22 ppg stat line through their first 2 games. After a 40 point game in a G league playoff loss last year, Gillon appears to be coming into his own after previously struggling to begin his professional basketball career. Gillon is a high percentage jump shooter from all areas of the floor and is not prone to turnovers like many other guards that we had a chance to see in the opening round. His steady playmaking and clutch shooting will matter most in close games.
Terrico White, SG/Armored Athlete
Terrico White was drafted to the Detroit Pistons in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA draft and did not get to play at all after fracturing his foot in the preseason. After being waived before playing in a single NBA game, White has had a decorated professional career in the G league and overseas. His professional team in South Korea just won a league championship with White being honored as finals MVP. That play has carried over to The Basketball tournament, with Terrico averaging 22 points and 8 rebounds through the first two games. Watching him take on Boeheim’s Army’s zone on Saturday will be must-see TV.