Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Green’s five takeaways from Tuesday’s TBT $2 million title game

Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

For the first time in the six-year history of The Basketball Tournament, two college alumni teams squared off as Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State) and the Golden Eagles (Marquette) delivered in a final for the ages. Carmen’s Crew prevailed 66-60 behind a pair of free throw makes by William Buford to win the $2 million prize. Here are my five takeaways from Wintrust Arena for CSO.

1) Great eight for Carmen’s Crew:

Carmen’s Crew began the Elam Ending with a 58-57 advantage, but Jamil Wilson’s three from the wing put the Golden Eagles ahead 60-58 as things appeared to be heading for the worse, before a pair of players stepped up.

All of Jeff Gibbs’ 11 points came in the second half, but the first four points came in the Elam Ending which set the tone for the final eight points of the game. William Buford finished with a game-high 17 points, but the final two proved to be the most memorable as he drained the free throws to seal the prize money for Carmen’s Crew.

“I have been working for those shots my whole life and you will always play in the background as a kid wishing you hit those game-winning free throws,” Buford said. “My teammates and coaches had faith in me to deliver in the clutch.”

2) The journey to $2 million for Carmen’s Crew:

Carmen’s Crew have been a part of TBT play for the last three seasons and have crept closer and closer to the grand prize only to fall short. Tuesday’s win served as a culmination for a team that went into the early July with six active players and not knowing if they would play this summer.

“The week before the first game, we were looking at our roster and we had six guys. Lenzelle [Smith] was hurt and DeShaun [Thomas] had his wedding and we didn’t know if this would be our year,” Carmen’s Crew guard Aaron Craft said. 

“Jeff Gibbs was a huge pick-up for us and other guys came in ready. We pulled it together in the last week because we thought we might have to play zone for three games in a row for three days, but we found a way.”

3) The rise of university alumni schools participating in TBT:

Each season, the popularity of The Basketball Tournament continues to rise with NBA players such as, Chris Paul (Team CP3), DeMarcus Cousins (Loyalty is Love) and Evan Turner (Carmen’s Crew) either coaching or serving as a general manager for their respective teams.

Another reason for the rise is more and more alumni from colleges across the country participating and Turner wants to see more participation from other schools in TBT in the coming years.

“The support of the universities all around like Ohio State and Marquette fans coming out and having more and more alumni teams will make the event bigger because a lot of people want to support,” Turner said. “I know going into NBA locker rooms, you want to trash talk about what happened in the summer and this tournament is another extension of comradery and having a lot of pride in your university.”

4) Double figures galore for the Crew:

Fresh off an 18-point outing, highlighted by the Elam Ending game winner against four-time champions Overseas Elite, David Lighty continued his stellar play with a team-high 17-point, seven-rebound, four-assist outing.

Lighty highlighted four Carmen’s Crew players in double figures scoring with Buford (14), Jon Diebler (11) and Gibbs (11) rounding things out.

5) Golden Eagles’ revival from long range:

With a bevy of long-range specialists, the Golden Eagles looked to continue their stellar shooting in the tournament, but ran into a bump in the road missing six of their first seven attempts.

Down 20-10 and in need of a jolt in the early stages of the second quarter, Derrick Wilson delivered with a three and provided the beginning of an 11-2 run to pull to within a point.

The Golden Eagles managed to return to form going 9-of-25 (36 percent) from long range, but could not overcome Carmen’s Crew final flurry in the ending.