Sunday, August 4, 2019

Green’s five takeaways from Sunday’s TBT semifinals

Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Sunday’s TBT semifinals delivered with a pair of Elam Endings for the ages with Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State) and the Golden Eagles (Marquette) making their first-ever trips to the championship game at Wintrust Arena on Tuesday night. Here are my five takeaways for CSO.

1) Another Diener game winner in the summertime:

Golden Eagles guard Travis Diener sat on the couch last week and watched what would become his teammates for another year win three games in as many days in the Wichita regional to punch their ticket to Chicago for championship week.

The win proved to be enough motivation for Diener to make another trip to TBT as a part of the Golden Eagles and delivered in the Elam Ending with a pair of three-point makes, highlighted by a back end make from the wing for a 68-62 win over Team Hines in the semifinal round.

Diener also delivered a walk-off winner to knock off Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse) in the 2018 TBT quarterfinal round and is no stranger to the format of the ending.

“In that situation in the Elam Ending, you really can’t play at half court because it is very physical and the refs aren’t going to decide the outcome,” Diener said. “In the huddle, we were talking like if we get a rebound, let’s push it and get something right away. Once I saw what was happening, I knew I would get a shot off and fortunately for us, it went in.”

2) The Gibbs grinder:

Each team needs a glue guy who can deliver in all facets of the game and Carmen’s Crew forward Jeff Gibbs fits the mold to a tee. Gibbs’ wide frame made an impact, whether it would be playing the passing lanes on defense or pounding the ball in the post with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes.

Gibbs is one of a few Carmen’s Crew players who did not play at Ohio State, but felt like he was an honorary member.

“I have known a couple of these guys for a while now and have played open gym with these guys for the last couple of years and was happy to be a part of this team,” Gibbs said.

3) Lighty work:

As Overseas Elite managed to gain momentum in the fourth quarter with a 58-56 lead, Carmen’s Crew received a much-needed shot of adrenaline on offense and David Lighty delivered.

Lighty scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and admitted the early start threw off his routine.

“The game was at 11 a.m. and I haven’t done that since AAU,” Lighty said in a sarcastic manner. “I got my legs going and got into a good rhythm. My guys told me to keep shooting and got a couple of free throws in to get a little confidence going when we needed it.”

4) Elam Ending delivers in epic fashion:

For the second straight season, The Basketball Tournament utilized the Elam Ending, where the target score is added by eight points of the team leading at four minutes or after the first dead ball in that timeframe. 

The ending delivered palpable excitement in the first semifinal between Carmen’s Crew and four-time defending champs Overseas Elite. With the score at 63, Carmen’s Crew scored the first six points, but stalled as it missed several shots in a row and pulled Overseas Elite to within three.

Lighty’s layup capped off Carmen’s Crew 71-66 upset of Overseas Elite and ended its 29-game winning streak with Elam Ending creator Nick Elam enjoying every second of the action courtside.

“My heart was pounding up there, although I don’t have a rooting interest either way, but I wondered if this would be TBT history,” Elam said. 

“Overseas Elite had such an amazing run and you don’t know what the ending would look like and ended up being a David Lighty layup after getting a loose ball, which was crazy. The reaction from the fans was great and you get those goosebumps just from seeing that shot go through the rim.”

5) Cook in the clutch:

Without Elgin Cook’s effort on both sides of the ball before the Elam Ending, there might never have been Diener’s three-point conversions. While Cook notched a game-high 21 points, on 9-of-15 shooting, the second chance layup with 3:32 left put the Golden Eagles up 60-58 and went back on the defensive end to block Mike James’ jumper as it went out of bounds, which put the Elam Ending into effect.

“It was a back and forth game, so I knew it was going to come down to a couple of possessions, especially with the Elam Ending,” Cook said. “I just wanted to go out there, be active and get my hands on as many loose balls as I can.”