I own one tie, one belt and several pairs of pants with frayed hems. In fact I require the aid of another human being just to get through this world without looking like a complete idiot (thanks Sarah!). My attention to style is non-existent. I don’t notice when people get haircuts. I don’t notice when they get new glasses. So it’s really odd that I’m having a hard time focusing on the Battle-4-Atlantis Tournament, because the reason I can’t focus is that their webpage sucks. And webpages are pure style. I wonder if this is how I’m supposed to feel when my socks don’t match, or when the shirt I show up to work in has a hole in the armpit.
I became obsessed with the webpage in the spring when the teams were first announced. And what caused me to become obsessed with the page is the fact that it didn’t exist. This is the digital era. You have to have a webpage. If you don’t, how do I know you are real? So every day I reloaded my google search and every day I got bupkes in return. I felt like I was checking the tree in front of Boo Radley’s house and everyday having the knothole come up empty.
Until, one day, I got a hit. But it wasn’t where I thought it would be. You would think (or I would think) www.battle4atlantis.com would exist, but it doesn’t. They own it – because now there’s a redirect to the correct address (which just flows off the tongue: www.atlantis.com/promotions/battle4atlantis/battle4atlantis.aspx) – but they don’t use it, and instead send traffic to a link buried inside another web address. And there’s the first red flag. Atlantis – it turns out – is a resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. And their web-page freely admits that this tournament is a promotion for the resort. That resort, meanwhile, has its own slick web-page which will readily supply you with $850 a night rooms. The resort has a 9,000 square foot ‘Ultra Pool’ (adults only), an outdoor casino, a 9,000 square foot nightclub (not sure what their obsession is with 9,000) featuring Konflict! this Saturday, a movie theater, a comedy club, an indoor 4-wheel-drive racetrack, and what they bill as the “largest marine habitat in the world” (though considering you can see the ocean from virtually anywhere on the island I’m going to have to call bullshit on that one). One thing they don’t have is a basketball court.
Anyway, back to backslash promotions, backslash battle4atlantis, backslash battle4atlantis.aspx. Scroll down the page and you get the ‘2010 Recap Video’ which brings up obvious issues as there was no 2010 Tournament in which to recap. This is the inaugural tournament. This is year number one. But don’t tell that to Wikipedia which describes the Battle4Atlantis as a Tournament that “takes place in late November of each year, at Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas usually the week before Thanksgiving.” Usually? Really? Terminology notwithstanding, I watched the ‘2010 Recap Video’ (which is awful), and in it they show illustrations of a court being assembled in what appears to be a ballroom. So now, the day before the tournament begins, I have to take a leap of faith and assume that this resort which has never hosted a basketball tournament, which didn’t have a webpage for months and when it did was nearly impossible to find and contained a recap of a tournament which never happened – that this resort will put on a well-run and managed event.
I guess if Boo Radley can be in the right place at the right time to rescue children, and I can make it to work five days a week dressed appropriately, then Atlantis Resort can host a basketball tournament.
So, on to the games. There are eight teams. There are twelve games. Here are the opening day matchups (all games Thursday):
Central Florida (2-1) vs College of Charleston (3-0) (2:00 EST)
Last year – under new coach Donnie Jones – UCF began the season 14-0 which included wins over Florida, Miami and Princeton. Then they promptly lost 8 in a row to suspect competition while stumbling their way to a 21-12 record, and finished their year playing in the semi-finals of a Tournament no one watched. But still, there was plenty of reason to be excited heading into this season with All-Conference selections Marcus Jordan (Michael’s son) and Keith Clanton returning, as well as the addition of three high-major transfers.
But just before the season started UCF was notified that the basketball program was under investigation by the NCAA. Now, senior AJ Rompza is suspended as part of the investigation. Compounding the problem was the suspension of three other players for rules violations, including star Marcus Jordan. But now everyone except Rompza is back and UCF is ready to get on track.
The College of Charleston lost plenty of firepower from last year’s 26 win team, but don’t sleep on Bobby Cremins’ club as they’re still very talented. Senior Antwaine Wiggins is leading the way with 19 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and he’s shooting 56% on 2s and 37% on 3s. CoC also added a rare consensus top-50 recruit in Adjehi Baru. Baru had stopped by the campus unexpectedly and the staff (who didn’t know how he was) showed him around. He fell in love with the place and committed. In interviews he’s talked about how the big name colleges don’t mean anything to him – because he’s from the Ivory Coast. He also wanted to be on a smaller campus. The big man is averaging 9 points and 7.7 boards a game, and most importantly is extending possession on the offensive glass (2.7 offensive rebounds per game). The Cougars are coming off a win over Clemson.
Prediction: Charleston 75, UCF 70
Florida State (4-0) vs UMass (4-0) (4:30 EST)
What happens when a team that turns the ball over (279th in the nation) meets a team who’s specialty is forcing turnovers (14th)? Ugly basketball. Leonard Hamilton’s teams have never taken care of the ball (only twice in the top-200 in his 10 years at FSU) but this year has been special. They’re coughing it up on 25.2% of their trips, which is worst of his tenure. Especially frustrating for fans is that FSU is finally shooting the ball well (55.9 eFG%) and is relentless on the offensive glass, grabbing 44.8% of their own misses. So on possessions when they don’t turn it over they’re averaging 1.49 points per possession. For comparison, Duke – who has an elite offense – is averaging 1.41 per trip that doesn’t end in a turnover.
The Seminoles distribute the ball well (have four players in double figures), though Bernard James can be the difference maker. The senior center – who led the ACC in FG% last season, is converting 78.3% of his shots and has added a array of post moves to his game. He also only has a G.E.D and spent 6-years in the Air Force, which you might hear about 84 times during the tournament (admittedly, his story is a great one).
UMass is coming off an impressive dismantling of Boston College. 5’9 Chaz Williams (transfer from Hofstra) is averaging 17.3 a game. Williams has shot the 3-ball well (42%), but also – and surprisingly – has flourished inside the arc, knocking down 53% on his 2s. He’s also one of two players averaging at least 2.3 steals per game. Another player to watch is junior Terrell Vinson. After injuries marred his sophomore season, he’s back with added strength and is averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.
But UMass really wins or loses on the defensive end. Derrick Kellogg’s offense is fine, but not overly impressive, and his defense has the opportunity to be the best in the Atlantic 10. They’re active on the interior, blocking 20.7% of their opponents’ shots. They’re active on the wings, limiting their opponents to 23.4% 3-pt shooting. And, as noted earlier, they disrupt possessions. A lot.
Prediction: UMass 66, FSU 64
UConn (4-0) vs UNC Asheville (2-2) (7:00 EST)
The defending National Champions have quietly and efficiently been rolling through lesser opponents. Uber recruit Andre Drummond has been quiet, and opponents should fear that this tournament will be his coming out party. Sophomore Jeremy Lamb has proven his backers right who named him to pre-season All-American lists. When his threes start dropping he’ll basically be unguardable one-on-one. He’s shooting 62.2% on 2s and 85.7% from the line. He’s been a bit turnover prone, but has made up for it by leading the team in steals.
Connecticut – which has no wins of note – is 2nd in the country in offensive rebound % with an astounding 51%. This helps solve some of their turnover problems as a team. Like all Jim Calhoun teams they’re relying on inside power to get the scoring done. They’re 229th in 3-pt FGA, and only Shabazz Napier is converting at a solid rate (nearly 48%).
Both of UNC Asheville’s losses have been to good teams (NCST and UNC) and both their wins have been over non-Division I teams, so its hard to read too much into their statistical profile. Still, the things that stand out is that they’re not turning the ball over (8th in the country), and that they’re dead last in blocking shots. What does this mean for the game? Lots of missed shots followed by UConn layups.
Prediction: UConn 79, UNC-Asheville 61
Utah (1-2) vs Harvard (3-0) (9:30 EST)
Utah has not been a very good team thus far. The newest member of the Pac-12 has one win (over a Division II school) and two bad losses (a blowout to Boise St and a loss to Montana State). This was to be expected after Utah’s roster imploded following their move to the Pac-12. Their core of returning players were interesting, at least in photographs, as they stood 5’11, 6’1, 6’11 and 7’3. So far the smallest one (PG Josh Watkins) has been the leader. Watkins is averaging 21.3 ppg (only player in double figures), and for a small player takes a hefty 80% of his shots from inside the arc. Jason Washburn – the 6’11 guy – is averaging 9 points and 8.3 rebounds. Unfortunately a scrimmage with a Divison II team cost the Utes their biggest man – David Foster – (foot surgery), and dinged up their sharpshooter Chris Hines (rib injury). It’s looking to be a long season in Utah.
Utah’s offense has failed to score a point per possession in any of their three games. They’re turning the ball over on 24.3% of their trips and are 280th in offensive rebounding. Defensively they haven’t been any better. They’re not forcing turnovers, they’re routinely allowing wide open threes, and are 336th in blocked shots.
Harvard, on the other hand, is coming in with plenty of hype. Picked to win the Ivy, Tommy Amaker’s club returned its entire roster from a 23 win team and added an impressive freshmen class. Now they look for their first NCAA Appearance in 66 years. Harvard’s deep roster means that eleven players have seen action in each of the first three game, and nine of them are averaging double-digit minutes. Leading the way is 2010-11 Ivy League Player of the Year Keith Wright who is putting up similar numbers to last season (14.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg). He’s shooting 63.3% from the field and half his rebounds have been on the offensive end. Oliver McNally – who is the player I’d pick in a national free-throw shooting contest – is an emotional, hard nosed player. Most of his shots come from beyond the arc and he’s averaging 14 ppg. As a team they’re not shooting the 3-ball quite as well as last season (36.7% to 37.9%), but against Utah they should get plenty of open looks.
Against their two Division I opponents Harvard has averaged 1.13 points per possession. Their 56.8% conversion on 2s is 21st in the country. They also have yet to allow a point per possession on the defensive end.
Prediction: Harvard 78, Utah 62.