Preview of the Tip-off Classic

Preview of the Tip-off Classic

Finally, the moment so many have been waiting for has arrived. This weekend’s Tip-Off Classic promises to showcase lots of local area talent. Many teams who are stepping on the court for the first time will be anxious to get their season started off on a positive note by landing the first blow to overwhelm their opponent. Just like a good championship fight, the Tip Off Classic has a very appealing under card to get people in the seats early. St. Benedict’s will come in heavily favored against Paterson Kennedy. All eyes will start focused on Lance Thomas who has received nothing but accolades over the last six months leading up to the start of the season. While Lance certainly deserves his advanced billing, opponents can’t forget about Eugene Harvey’s speed and ability to put pressure on the defense by pushing the ball and finding Corey Stokes in transition or dumping the ball down low to Samardo Samuels for easy baskets. If all else fails Danny Hurley will certainly have his team mentally prepared so look for St. Benedict’s to take Patterson Kennedy out of this game early.

The 4:30pm game looks to be an interesting one. St. Anthony’s is eager to re-establish its dominance and once again be considered NJ’s premier program. This will not be an easy task against a scrappy Newark Eastside team that has 3 very good guards. While most teams have begun to game-plan around stopping Corey Chandler(Rutgers), senior guard Al Holloway has quietly emerged as a capable guard who can make big shots. Allen Bush is a defensive stopper who could disrupt things for St. Anthony’s by applying intense ball pressure and forcing turnovers. Coach Hurley’s teams are always disciplined and well coached so it will be important for Newark Eastside to be disruptive defensively and take good shots since St. Anthony’s will most likely come out and extend their pressure defense and invite Newark Eastside to turn the ball over and take ill-advised shots. Miles Beatty and Anthony Rosario are 2 guards who can fill it up so look for them to shoulder the majority of the scoring load for the Friars. The team that can stay patient, execute and score off transition and turnovers will win this one.

In the main event #4 St. Patrick of Elizabeth takes on # 7 Nuemann-Goretti from PA. This game promises to have that heavyweight title fight feel. Nuemann-Goretti comes loaded with a quartet of Division 1 prospects led by St. Joe’s bound Derrick Rivera; Syracuse bound Rick Jackson and Antonio Jardine along with highly touted Earl Pettis. St. Patrick’s comes in with its own cast of highly touted players including Corey Fisher, Ruben Guillandeaux, Jeff Robinson, Yves Mbala, Yannick Nono and returning starter Jamar Youngblood. This game promises to be a war with both teams looking to maintain their lofty national rankings. Despite the fact that the guards receive much of the hype and praise, this game will be decided inside. Whichever team can dominate both backboards and consistently drive the ball to rim for high percentage shots and multiple trips to the free throw line should come out ahead in this one. Despite the abundance of raw talent in this game, it will be important for both teams to resist the urge to freelance and wisely play to their strengths. Neumann’s strong guard combination of Rivera, Pettis and Jardine gives them a huge advantage against most teams with their ability to create off the dribble and force opponents into turnovers. St. Patrick’s will attempt to combat this with tremendous depth and the strong inside presence of Yannick, Yves, and Jeff Robinson. Look for a full house and lots of college coaches on hand to check out the action.

Hopefully Rutgers can use this opportunity to fill their roster with a few of the many up and coming college prospects competing this weekend in the “Tip Off Classic”.

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