As I stated in my last Pro Am report, more stars would start to come out during the final weeks. The mere addition of JJ Hickson, gave winless E-Net another force down low to go with Josh Powell which carried them to a 71-46 win over the RDU Barnstormers.
The Barnstormers feature three Dukies in Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and incoming freshman Olek Czyz. Singler got little help from Czyz in defending Powell and Hickson, which shows that work lies ahead for one of the most popular players in the tournament. Czyz did drain a three and positioned himself better on the court than on Tuesday. And he of course had a sweeping one handed dunk which brought about many looking at one another as if to say, did you see that?
Still, for all the tremendous athleticism Czyz possesses, his defense is a work in progress. Czyz plays hard all the time and is in excellent game shape and Coach K will certainly tweak his game to a desired effect. Czyz finished the evening with 15 points.
Kyle Singler (12 points) was steady, but tired after working overtime on the glass which took a toll on his shot. I mean, he never comes out of the game and I have yet to see any other player not get a little rest in the event. Unfortunately, some sloppy guard play which accounted for four straight turnovers at one point, helped send the Barnstormers to their second loss.
Nolan Smith came off the bench for the Barnstormers and had a stretch in the first half which I have yet to see anyone recognize. I mean all he did was wreck havoc in the passing lanes, slash to the rim on his ways to 13 consecutive points. That’s right, 13 straight points! The second half was a different story for Smith who scored but 2 points giving him a total of 15. Smith struggled from the free throw stripe and this was a classic case of a tale of two half’s.
Another Duke freshman, Elliot Williams played on the winning team and he would on some occasions match up with Nolan. Williams cored just 11 points tonight but continued to show the ability to make his team better with his passing. The fact that he can take his man off the dribble, allowed him to draw multiple defenders which allowed him to make the pass to a teammate for the open shot, if not a dunk. One thing is certain, that being Williams has the ability to contribute in a big way as a freshman.
One thing about sitting as close as I do to the action is that you see a lot more than just the game. Nolan is still not 100% and favored his knee down the stretch. While I normally do not talk of how the games are called, I must admit that this one was sloppy. Hey, no homer-ism though! The entire body of games on this night were called in an inconsistent manner, in my opinion.
In fact, the first game had a controversial foul on tournament sponsor Jerry Stackhouse (11 points) as less than second was left on the clock. Miles Plumlee would later be called for an iffy foul with 3.2 seconds on the clock with his team up a single digit. Ironically, he fouled a soon to be teammate that he was playing against on this night. Lance Thomas missed hit one of two and the game went to overtime.
Thomas played a bigger role in the extra period, flushing a hard dunk and connecting on two free throws at a critical juncture of the game. Thomas moved well and played good position defense scoring his tournament high of 17 points.
This was the first time I got to see Miles Plumlee (10 points) and he showed me that he is pretty good with his decision making and that he plays hard. He drew UNC freshman Ed Davis (16 points) and had to play a lot of help defense which would leave a man open where teammate’s didn’t shift. He plays smart and has indeed gained some weight to a body that is still a work in progress. I look forward to seeing him more.
In the end Stacks Regulators team remained undefeated, but they got help from two obvious makeup calls which somewhat tainted the game for this fan. It was a really tight game that was full of intensity down the stretch and it should have been decided by the players and not the whistle.
Despite the lackluster officiating on this night, there was still great entertainment value in that the event is absolutely free and the crowd was the the biggest yet. They will throw the rock up again this coming Tuesday and if you are a Triangle resident, there is little reason not to go. Read other reviews and in depth analysis on the BDN Premium Message Board by becoming a member.
Photos – (1) Miles Plumlee and Ed Davis, (2) Kyle Singler*, (3) Elliot Williams*, Olek Czyz*
*Rick Crank (All Photos on BDN are original unless otherwise marked and they are copyrighted. IOW, no reproductions without prior permission)