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NCAA Basketball showcased in Toronto as part of the James Naismith Classic

22 de Noviembre de 2019 a las 09:18

Photo courtesy of
By Eduardo Harari
TORONTO. – Scotiabank Arena played host to the newly created tournament by the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hyundai James Naismith Classic. This tournament is focusing on showcasing the NCAA in Canada due to the growth of the sport.
“There hasn’t been one of these kinds of events in the Toronto market previously,” said Greg Procino, the vice president of basketball operations at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “We figured out rather quickly there was an appetite from the universities to play in Toronto. I would say that was our path to building this event at Scotiabank Arena.”
The Naismith Classic honors the life of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Born in Almonte, Ontario, he held many positions throughout his career – from being a physical education teacher to the founder of the University of Kansas basketball program. He created and wrote the original rules of basketball in Springfield, Ma., the home of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame – which is running the Naismith Classic.
Having Canadian representation in the Naismith Classic also will help fans feel connected to it, said Procino. While Rutgers saw its lone Canadian and former captain Eugene Omoruyi transfer to Oregon last July, Harvard has three on its roster: guards Luka Sakota and Noah Kirkwood and forward Danilo Djuricic.
“We were driven to Toronto primarily based on the growth of basketball in Canada and the number of universities that are spending time recruiting in Toronto and in that market,” Procino said. “It’s nice to capitalize on the Raptors’ success from last season with their championship – but this event was well in the works before all that happening.”
“We feel like we’re adding to our portfolio,” Procino added. “We’re growing our brand in a new market and taking a college basketball event that hasn’t been in that market before and building from the ground up with universities that are excited to participate.”
Photo courtesy of UB Spectrum
The tournament started with a showcase of Canadian talent as the Ivy League powerhouse Harvard met last year’s 18th ranked University of Buffalo.
Jayvon Graves hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer at the end of the first half that gave the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team a much-needed lift against Harvard.
“He always manages to come up with big plays for us, so it was a great lift at the end of the half and it gave us energy,” Segu said of Graves’ buzzer-beater.
But a lone, highlight-reel-worthy 3-pointer from more than 30 feet out wasn’t going to sustain the Bulls as they entered the second half. The Bulls continued that charge by doing some tinkering that allowed them to flourish, particularly at the perimeter, in an 88-76 win against Harvard in the James Naismith Classic at Scotiabank Arena.
Buffalo (2-1) took a 40-38 lead into the break. Harvard’s Luka Sakota drained a 3 for a 46-45 lead with 17:52 left in the second half. Johnson answered with a trey and a dunk as the Bulls gradually pulled away for the win.
Bryce Aiken had 18 points, Justin Bassey added 12 and Chris Lewis chipped in 11 for Harvard (3-2).
“They go to the offensive boards and they’ve got good size, and they’re strong kids,” UB coach Jim Whitesell said of Harvard. “Tough matchups for us, and I thought early, they got us. They punched us and we were a little bit staggered. They really dominated the offensive boards in the first 10 to 12 minutes.”
“They missed a lot of shots in the first half and early, and we were able to take advantage of it,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said of UB, which was 14 for 35 from the floor in the first half and finished 31 for 69. “We got to the foul line a lot in the first half, and I thought their 3-point shooting and their guard play, off the bounce in the second half was the difference. They broke us down on the dribble and they created things, and they made some deep, tough shots.
“They didn’t make those ones in the first half but in the second half they really did and put us on our heels. They made us pay for every mistake that we made.”
Photo courtesy of Chris Young, AP
The 2nd game of the afternoon was tagged as the game of the tournament as the Tennessee Volunteers met this years 20th ranked Washington Huskies. It turned out to be just that as the Volunteers shocked the Huskies with a 75 – 62 bashing.
Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes is a big believer in challenging his teams with tough non-conference schedules.
Jordan Bowden scored 15 / 18 points in the first half, Lamonte Turner had 16 points on the afternoon.
"We've got to go test ourselves," Barnes said. "We have to do that. We've always believed in that. We believe that this time of year it's really about trying to get yourself ready for conference play. You've got to play a high-level opponent like we played today."
Yves Pons scored 15 points, John Fulkerson had 14 and Turner added seven rebounds and eight assists as the Volunteers improved to 3-0 and handed Washington its first loss in three games this season.
"We just got a little bit out-classed, but we can learn from it," Washington Coach Mike Hopkins said.
Washington, which began its season with a win over Baylor, didn't fare so well north of the border, falling behind by as many as 14 against the Volunteers.
"I felt like we were in sand a little bit today," Hopkins said. "They were moving the ball; we weren't as active and disruptive as we normally were. Our rim protection wasn't as good as it was against Baylor."
Nahziah Carter had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Isaiah Stewart had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jaden McDaniels scored 15 for the Huskies.
Quade Green scored 10 points, but Washington struggled with its outside shooting, going 5 for 18 from three-point range.
Photo courtesy of St. Bonaventure Athletics
The last game turned out as the surprise if the tournament as the St. Bonaventure Bonnies manipulated their way to their first win of the season against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 80 – 74.
Alejandro Vasquez scored 20 points and Justin Winston scored 19. Their scoring aptitude early in the game ultimately helped Bona (1-3) withstand Rutgers’ attempt at a second-half rally.
“With Osun (Osunniyi) out, we need those freshmen,” Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said. “We need to have a couple of them to have some success, and one of the reasons we won and had a big lead in the first half was because of the two freshmen. They grew up. They played with confidence. The game wasn’t too big for them, and that’s what we need from them.”
“That was the memo, from the beginning,” Vasquez said. “We wanted to come out with energy and just set it, from the top.
Kyle Lofton relished the reinforcement by Vasquez and Winston.
“It meant a lot. It just shows us that they can step in and make big plays as well as us,” said Lofton, who scored 17 points and had eight assists. “And them helping us, it took pressure off me and Dom (Welch), the primary scorers.”
Then, with a minute left in the game, Rutgers guard Caleb McConnell (13 points) stripped the ball from Winston and went in uncontested for a layup, cutting Bona’s lead to 75-71.
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell had a plan for his team in the final minutes.
“I wanted them to get a stop,” Pikiell said. “They had a short shot clock and then made a timely basket and put it right back up, the lead. We’ve been in that position before, in win time, and they beat us.”
Bona had a plan, too.
“We wanted to stay poised,” Vasquez said. “We didn’t want to panic.”