Chris was at the Legends Classic last weekend in Atlantic City, N.J., and has written observations on all four teams — Florida, Michigan State, Rutgers and UMass.
Notes on the Tournament from each team:
Florida Gators – The Champions of the tournament by beating Michigan State (77-74) and Rutgers (73-58). They have the chemistry that has been missing for the last couple of years. Any good coach knows you must have great chemistry to be great team. They seem like they enjoy playing together and it seems like everyone is on the same page. Billy Donavan does an excellent job switching up his presses and defenses. His 2-3 zone is working very well because of their length and ability to communciate and locate the shooters. Michigan State shot 2-10 from 3 point range and Rutgers was 3-16 with Mike Rosario 1-6. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton will be up and down on shooting nights, but with Alex Tyus playing his real position and with role guys like Dan Werner, Chandler Parsons, Ray Shipman and Erik Murphy this will be a tough team. Macklin looks very strong and his length and inside presence is very big for this team. I really like this team and I can tell Donavan does as well. With some already big wins under there belt this team is no longer a sleeper!
Michigan State – Took a tough loss to Florida, but came back with a impressive win against UMass (106-68). You always find out a what a team is made of after they lose a game. And the way Michigan State came out to play UMass you would have thought they were playing the Final Four. After going to visit them earlier in the year nothing from them surprises me. They play hard man to man defense and they show there toughness in everything they do. Kalin Lucas is a flat out Stud. He “Gets It” and his leadership puts him over the top. Raymar Morgan is a senoir that has been there and done it already and Durrell Summers is a big time athlete who just needs to take care of the ball. Chris Allen has found his stroke again and Delvon Roe seems to be getting better every day. His length and passion for the game is great to see as a coach. Korie Lucious is a very good backup point guard and there key will be the inside game at the center spot. Coach Tom Izzo is still trying to find out how to play it. Freshman Garrick Sherman and Derrix Nix all the choices right now. they are young but play hard. Also watch out for wing Austin Thornton who had a very solid tournament. The schedule is very touch , but Coach Izzo will have the guys prepared. congrats to Coach Izzo for his 341st win at Michigan State. He is now the all-Time leader! Rutgers – Had a really good tournament falling in the Championship to Florida (73-58). Beat UMass (83-75) and shot the ball very well. Mike Rosario can flat out light it up if he gets open looks. He is a tough kid who just needs to develop more of a mid range game to take his game to another level. Coach Fred Hill has his guys playing very hard and has really added some good pieces to this group. I was really impressed with 6-11 senoir Hamady N’Diaye. He plays very hard, he is active, and he is very long and with other young big man Gregory Echenique, that will be a touch tandem. James Beatty and Dane Miller are very good additions and so is Florida transfer Jonathan Mitchell. Mike Coburn also shot the ball well. They do a very good job of getting the right people the right shots and if this team can become a really good defensive team they will be another good team in the always tough Big East!
UMass – Lost both games of the tournament, but hopefully got the needed experience. They have two very good wing guards in Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley who can both get to the rim and finish. They have good length and guys who can play mutiple positions in Freshmen Terrell Vinson, Sampson Carter and Freddie Riley. Their bigs Hashim Bailey and Sean Carter both play hard, but need to finish better. Coach Kellogg knows he needs the young guys to grow up quickly, He knows he needs more toughness and leadership from the older players. All of these young guys came from really good programs and the plan is in place it will just take some time!
Big East Update on my former players:
I have 4 former Patterson School players on Big East rosters. All 4 of them have a lot in common. They were all unknowns in High school and they all will be Big East stars. All 4 of them played hard for me and the right way!
Jeremy Hazell – Seton Hall- played for me 2 years. Nobody knew who he was. But his work ethic and scoring ability just got better and better. He loves to win and last year was the 2nd leading scorer in the Big East!
Dwight Hardy – St. John’s- Another unknown who plain and simple got it done. This guy has a very high Basketball IQ and can flat out score the basketball. He played with Hazell at Patterson. Is off to a good start with the Red Storm!
Darius Johnson-Odom – Marquette- If you watched ESPN this weekend you finally know who this guy is. He play with me at Patterson with Courtney Fortson and Varez Ward. Can score in a variety of ways and was a Junior College All-American. Surprise No More!
Vincent Council – Providence- Had no offers last year early. Nobody thought we had a point guard last year. well we did! This guy knows how to play the game the right way and is a QB on the floor! He is going to help Providence win alot of games. Check out his assist to Turnover ratio!
Also one of my players fom last season David Nyrusak signed with West Virginia. David is now at Mountain State. He is 7-feet and very long and active on the inside. He is use to someone yelling at him all the time so playing for Coach Bob Huggins wont be a big adjustment.
Also Congrats to Wesley Johnson ( Syracuse) who spent sometime at Patterson. He is very talented and a great young man off the court. Also to Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson( Syracuse), Brad Wanamaker (Pittsburgh), Justin Burrell (St. John’s). They played with DeJuan Blair and Malcolm Grant on a US All-Star team we took to France a couple of years ago. We won the Gold Medal beating Russia in the finals. (Photo courtesy Legends Classic) Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter