King City Classic Wrap-Up

Spirited play was again the norm and perimeter shooting ruled the day at the semi-finals and finals of the King City Classic in Cleveland, Ohio. With Head Coach John Beilein and Assistant Coach Bacari Alexander in attendance, Michigan targets Trey McDonald, Gary Harris and Amir Williams again looked to play well and help their teams win.

(Cleveland, OH) - Trey McDonald's team - North Carolina - started the day playing in the semi-finals against a loaded team Syracuse that included standouts such as Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Trevor Lacey, Kentavious Caldwell, Alabama commit Levi Randolph, 2011 five-star Kyle Wiltjer, and 2012 five-star Branden Ashley.  Team North Carolina was a balanced team that needed a slower tempo to the game, whereas team Syracuse was a smaller team that ran and spread the floor better.  In the early going it was Trey McDonald and team North Carolina that dictated the pace of play and they held a small lead until about five minutes remaining in the half.  That was when Trevor Lacey got in a shooter's zone and brought along all of Syracuse his teammates, as they opened it up quickly and took the lead into halftime.  In the second half, Lacey, Johnson and Wiltjer exposed a defense that poorly defended the perimeter as they hoisted shot after shot that found the bottom of the net and left team North Carolina with their only hope being that they would cool off.  Syracuse's shooters did not and the game was barely a contest at all with still 13 minutes to go in the second half.  The loss would send them to the third place consolation game later in the day.

McDonald, however, continued to play well in the midst of a team disaster.  Just as he did the day before, he ran the court well and moved well within the offense, he defended the post pretty well and displayed both the ability to finish in close and a decent mid-range shot.  McDonald clearly has some tools... he just needs to get quicker and play more aggressively on the floor. Throughout the King City Classic, though, McDonald was easily the most consistent player of the three Michigan targets. 

Gary Harris and Amir Williams' team Duke played their consolation bracket game after losing their opening round game on Thursday. The game lacked flow until the second half when Duke's opponent - UCONN - again found that the up-tempo game was the best approach to attacking Duke.  They ended up pulling away for a win by double-digits.

Amir Williams played a pretty decent first half, grabbing some rebounds and preventing any easy buckets in the paint on defense.   Williams is the kind of big guy that you can use to slow down an opponent by taking your time with possessions and getting him touches in the pain that he should be able to convert.  That would have been a useful strategy in the second half, as UCONN started running and hitting their perimeter shots, but Williams' team did not look to him very often.  He did have a few opportunities to break up the game and slow the pace down by going hard to the rim and, if nothing else, getting free throw opportunities... but he didn't capitalize.  A bit lethargic at times, I think the long week and the previous night's ankle injury took its toll on the big guy.

Gary Harris was shooting the ball better today and again showed his slash to the hoop without the ball.  He drove a couple of times as well and was able to get to the free throw line.  I didn't see him miss a free throw all week, in Cleveland He handles the ball competently right now but if he could improve this aspect of his game my feeling is he would be much more confident heading to the hoop to either get the bucket or get to the free throw stripe as a way to manufacture points when his jumper isn't falling.  He passed the ball well again and I thought he was one of the few on the team who showed a consistent effort to defend well.  He pressed well (coach Greg Paulus has used a lot of press to try to get back into games they were being outgunned in) and he has a knack for getting into passing lanes to disrupt flow.  Overall, Gary looked more confident out there as the week went along, and his play was better for it.

Trey McDonald was back on the court towards the end of the day for the third place consolation game and his Duke team ended up beating a similarly balanced Michigan State team to secure 3rd place.  McDonald was very active on both ends and even had some opportunities to run in transition in this game.  He created a couple of turnovers and broke out well in transition.  One of the things that people find the most impressive about McDonald is you never see him with his hands on his knees sucking wind, even at 6-9 220+.  He's always one of the most active forwards and is ready to play all the time while other forwards are bent over trying to regain breath.  He was often beating all of the forwards up and down the floor.  In the last game he showed off his mid-range jumper again and found success.  He even flashed a shot from just inside the three point line, but that didn't fall for him.  He caught the ball well and passed the ball well, yet again.  He's got to learn some body control on the defensive end when challenging shots.  You can tell he wants to get better at blocking shots and is going after more shots in that effort, but he gets into the body and picks up some fouls.   That, however, was about the only real negative I could see as the afternoon came to a close.  He really helped himself this week.

Blog by Ben Krasner

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