Big Time Day Three: Roy blows up

Brackett play began Friday at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament and upsets were the rule of the day. Wildcat recruits Brandon Roy and Antwan Wright both put in great individual performances.

Pool play concluded on Thursday, so on Friday the bracket play portion of the Las Vegas Big Time got under way. It was a day that saw a number games going down to the wire, a few upsets and even one very big upset. The final game of the day ended after 1 a.m. Saturday morning and it happened to one of the most entertaining contests to be played today.

Pump N Run, a team of two seven-footers and one of the nation's best power forwards dropped a 84-81 decision to H Squad I. It was surely the biggest upset of the tournament. H Squad, led by junior point guard Marquise Williams simply blitzed the bigger Pump team with blazing speed and deadly outside shooting.

Williams, who could be the best point guard in the Class of 2003, blew through every defense thrown at him and hit from everywhere on the floor. He's a crafty lefty who's supper-quick with the ball in his hands and may be the sweetest shooting point guard I've seen this summer. After the game, Williams' father told me his son had been talking about attending Arizona since he was in the eighth grade and still says he wants to play for the Wildcats.

Williams was an offensive force, however it wasn't so much the H Squad's offense that got the job done but its defense.

With less than five minutes left in the game and trailing by 10 points, H Squad starting trapping on every in bounds play and created five straight turnovers to cut it to one. Williams hit a late three-pointer and free throw H Squad to the biggest upset of the day in the books.

UA Head Coach Lute Olson and assistant Rodney Tention were the last to leave the Silverado Gymnasium when the contest was over.

Tomorrow, H Squad will play the So. California All Stars who advanced with wins over MN Magic Book and the Inner City Players.

The Inner City Players features UA-bound Chris Rodgers. It was a good game but when Rodgers fouled out with two minutes to play and his team down by seven points, So Cal cruised to a ten-point win.

The most entertaining game of the day, and what has to be considered a huge upset, was Nebraska Bison Red's 80-78 victory over Prep Stars International.

Nebraska slowly built a 10 to 12 point margin with a controlled offense, a solid defensive effort and scrappy play. For the most part the Nebraska players knew they were fighting an uphill battle and gave an all out effort to run down every lose ball and grab every rebound. Simply put, Nebraska just played harder and was rewarded for its effort.

However, the win didn't come that easily. With :46 left in the game, Nebraska held a 10-point lead (79-69) and had the ball. But three quick steals and a free throw narrowed the deficit to a single point, 79-78, with :25 to go. Nebraska fouled and Brad Buckman made on of two free throws to make it 80-78, but Prep Stars had one last opportunity to tie the score.

Kennedy Winston, a 6-7 wing from Pritchard (Blout), Ala., went to the free throw line with three seconds left and chance tie. Winston missed his first attempt and Prep Stars was guilty of a lane violation before he attempted the second and the game was over.

The Prep Stars feature two other great wings; Lenny Cooke, 6-7, from Old Tappan (HS), NJ, and Kalenna Azubuike, 6-5, from Tulsa (Victory Christian), Okla. The duo are considered two of best wings in the Class of 2002. Cooke is very quick off the dribble and almost impossible to stop one-on-one. Azubuike is more of a spot up shooter. Tonight, Azubuike hit a few threes but Cooke's game was missing on. On a few occasions, Cooke had his pocket picked by Tyler Payne, a 6-3 two-guard from Lincoln HS. Payne is much slower than Cooke is, but he used position defense and great anticipation to keep Cooke in check rather than trying to win the battle with foot speed.

Inland I, with Antoine Wright, won its first two games of tournament play. Inland defeated Dallas Select 64-59 as Wright put up 24 points, hitting 9 of 14 field goal attempts (2-3 three-pointers) and 4 of 7 free throws. In the second game, Inland defeated the West Coast All Stars 52-50 in a game neither team really deserved to win. It's just that Inland wasn't quite as good at losing a game marred by poor decisions, turnovers suspect coaching.

One of the best individual performances of the day belonged to Brandon Roy. In fact it was so good that when I went back to watch his team play the late game, fans were still talking about his earlier performance. In that game, Yes Red defeated the Southeast Raptors 80-72.

The win might even have been considered somewhat of an upset since the Raptor have Jackie Butler, a 6-11 center from McComb (HS), Miss. who is one of the nation's top big men in the Class of 2003. Butler is lot like Melvin Stone. He's very active in the paint, strong has some serious post moves. He needs to work on his face up shot and his balance. He missed some easy tip ins that could have turned the game in favor of the Raptors, but there is no doubt Butler has a tremendous upside. However, like so many of today's top high school players, Butler wants to make the jump directly to the NBA.

"I don't know if I'm going to college or not," Butler said. "If I do LSU is my favorite."

In this game though Roy definitely outplayed Butler. In fact, Roy was absolutely amazing. He hit 13-19 field goal attempts (2-5 three-pointers) and 7 of 11 free throws and totaled 35 points. He scored in all possible ways imaginable. He hit three-pointers, pull up jumpers, drove the lane and even recorded the "Dunk of the Day" with a baseline drive that ended with an in-your-face slam while vaulting over a would-be defender. The dunk was so spectacular a fan sitting next to me said it reminded him of a Richard Jefferson dunk.

"I had it on today," Roy said of his shot. "I had a shot. Last night I was praying please let me make some shots today."

Roy, who's hobbled by a torn ligament in his left knee, didn't play in the late game but his team came through with a 65-63 overtime win over the NY Gouchos.

"My knee was just too stiff," Roy said after the game. "I knew my team could win this one without me."

While his prognosis proved correct, the win didn't come as easily as he would have liked.

"I was nervous watching," Roy said. "I wanted to be out there. It made me sick to sit on the bench, but we won."

Roy said he would play in Sunday's games. Yes Red plays the Nebraska team that beat Prep stars International, so Roy's presence will likely be needed if Yes Red is have any chance at all of advancing.

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