Future Stars shine bright

Bellarmine's Knight's Hall was abuzz Friday night for the Night of the Future Stars. With a capacity crowd looking on, Louisville's four recruits stood out.

Two-on-Two
To kick off the festivities all of the All-Stars participated in the 2 on 2 competition. The early favorites had to be the UK connection of Jon Hood and Daniel Orton as they dispatched Louisville-bound Mike Marra and teammate Kyryl Natyazhko. Competition came from the tandem of IU signee sharpshooter Maurice Creek and UCLA commit Brendan Lane. They easily dispatched their two opponents on the way to the finals.

The most competitive game of the evening was the Hood – Orton duo versuses Louisville signee Rakeem Buckles and point guard Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham, AL. The game was both intense and physical as the referees let the two teams mix it up in the paint. Buckles held his own defensively against the 6-10 260-pound Orton, who to that point totally dominated the competition in the lane. Ultimately the game came down to the ability of Bledsoe to blow by the slower Hood to cause major havoc. In the most entertaining game, Buckles and Bledsoe won 13 to 10.

They met Creek and Lane in the finals. In the final, the quickness and athleticism of Buckles and Bledsoe once again was the difference. The talented pair brought home the 2 on 2 title with a 13-9 victory.

Three-Point Competition
The first round of the three point shootout came out pretty much "they were who we thought they were" with one notable omission. There was a definite IU flavor to the shootout as two Hoosier signees will be in tomorrow's final. Both Maurice Creek and Jordan Hulls showed off their long range prowess knocking down 17 and 15 points, respectively. The third spot in the finals belongs to Rhode Island assassin Mike Marra, who burned the nets for 15 points in his first round showing. The final baller joining the finalists will be sweet shooting big man Erick Murphy (Florida) who knocked in 14 points.

First Round 3-point scores: Creek - 17, Dennis – 7, Buckles – 5, Griffey – 12, Hood – 5, Bledsoe – 11, Hulls – 15, Riley – 2, E. Johnson – 11, Lane – 5, N. Johnson – 8, Snear – 7, Orton – 8, Marra – 15, Watford – 7, Murphy – 14, Wayns – 12, Penn – 5, Natyazhko – 9, Siva – 11, Van Treese – 7, Jackson – 8

Dunk Contest
The 2009 edition of the dunk contest was interesting to say the least. Brendan Lane was one who stood out and stepped forward with his aggressive style. He first scored big going between the legs to get things started, scoring a 32 out of 40. Then he came back with another strong finish off the glass to score a 33 on his second attempt.

Next to bring the crowd to its feet was Mike Marra as he wowed the crowd with a tomahawk windmill dunk off the backboard scoring a 36. He followed that up with an assist from Erick Murphy as he tossed the ball off the side of the backboard and Marra grabbed it and sent it through with a powerful two handed finish, scoring a 34.

The last of the final round participants was Jon Hood. Hood threw down a strong one-handed tomahawk jam off the bounce scoring a 31. In his second assault on the rim, Hood bounced the ball off the backboard catching the ball and reversing in with a strong finish to close out his first round with a 34.

The presumptive favorite heading into the competition was Louisville signee Peyton Siva, who didn't get off to a good start. He needed several attempts to put down his first dunk as he attempted to receive a pass from the stands before finally catching and finishing with two hands scoring a 30. His second attempt never got off the ground as Siva could not complete a dunk though he did have several impressive misses.

The finals of both the three-point shootout and dunk contest will be held at halftime of the All-Star game tomorrow.

Mike Marra will be attempting to become part of a very exclusive list of participants that have taken home the title in both competitions. The last to achieve this feat was UConn's Stanley Robinson, who completed the double dip in 2006.


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