Who wins the Upper Gulph All-Star 3 v. 3 Tournament?

NBA All-Star Weekend 3 v. 3 Tournament

No East vs West this year. Check out Upper Gulph as we split the All-Star rosters into threes.

Roo set the stakes last night, and the draft has taken place. Here’s the list of who took who, and why. Keep in mind, here are the ‘Captains’ followed by the 16 other All-Stars. The ‘Captains’ were chosen because of how many votes they received. Howard was #1, and Melo was #8, so we inverted the order for the draft:

1. Melo
2. CP3
3. D-Wade
4. KD
5. LeBron
6. D-Rose
7. Kobe
8. Dwight Howard
All Stars: Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bynum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Roy Hibbert
Jalbs: If I’m Melo, then I’m taking a point guard who can penetrate the lane and kick it out to me, while also not requiring the ball to be an effective playmaker. That eliminates Russ and to a lesser extent D-Will, leaving me with Nash and Rondo. As a Celtics fan this pains me, but Nash is putting up video-game numbers at the PG position this season, shooting 54% from the field – 7th in the league and first among guards – and leads the league in assists per game. It’s a no-brainer. Melo takes Nash.
Frank: As CP3, I’m looking for some paint presence to complement me on the perimeter. Since the draft rules prohibit me from drafting a teammate, a-la NHL, that leaves Blake out of the equation. And while Dirk is fun to watch in the high post, he’s too much of a playmaker to be on a team with me. I’m going with K-Love as my front court man because you can’t go wrong with 14 rebounds per game.
Jake:  With D-Wade, you have one of the most athletic PG/SG players in the history of the game: A fantastic scorer with a nose for the ball and a clutch presence. Wade is already an established team leader and one of the best athletes in the game, so what better way to compliment great athleticism than to add more athleticism? Griffin is the go-to here for Wade. Not only does this team become the instant must-watch, but with an open court 3-3 format, these two are gonna punish the slower big men with the pick and roll: Lob City all over again for Blake. Griffin gives Wade the interior rebounding presence on the defensive end as well, allowing Wade to be aggressive with the guards he plays against. Also I speak in the third person.

Roo: Well this is way harder than I had anticipated. KD doesn’t really have any glaring weakness; he’s got height, he can shoot from anywhere, and he isn’t afraid to drive either. I really wanted to go Bynum at first to get a body down low, but I don’t think that having a center is going to be crucial in this tournament. With his inability to pick Russell later on I think that KD needs to take a strong point guard here and goes with Deron Williams. He’s probably one of the most underrated point guards in the game and the ability to drive is integral on a wide open court like this.
Jalbs: Receding hairlines unite! Bron-Bron still has his pick of most of the top players in the league, and with his skill set, he can choose anyone from a point to a center to David Stern and he’ll still be a mismatch in this tournament. With that in mind, King James is probably in ‘best player available’ draft mode. I’m really torn here. On one hand, I can take high-scoring Russ Westbrook. On the other, I can take breakout star Lamarcus Aldridge and start him at center/forward/big man. At this point, there are more quality guards available than there are athletic big men, leading me to choose Aldridge. I’ll wait it out and take a guard in the final round.
Frank: Okay I’m going to switch it up. I know I bashed Dirk before because I didn’t want him to clash with a point guard, but I feel like the energy that Derrick and Dirk would bring to a 3v3 game would be hard to stop. Here, you have two guys who can shoot from almost anywhere on the court. Either teammate can drive to the hoop, and both can receive a kick-out for the long ball. Nowitzki it is.
Jake: OK so I’m Kobe. I want the ball, my team should give it to me, and, truth be told, all I do is take good shots. I’m clutch, I have a solid work ethic, I’m a champion and a leader, me me me me. I need a glue guy here, so I’m taking Iguodala. I’m gonna run the point and take all the shots, so I just need a guy who I can pass to and get the ball back immediately. Iguo is that dude, and he’s a great defender and can board up with bigger guys. He’s got above average vision too, which is a plus because, well, I’m Kobe. I’m, I mean, my team, is gonna win this thing.
Roo: DOUBLE DWIGHT PICK! I understand his plight. He can’t put on the ball on the ground and he can’t create for himself outside of the post. He relies on other people to get him the ball, but with the other team being able to send double teams at him I think his team, regardless of whose on it has a solid chance to win the whole thing. In no particular order, Dwight has to go with Russell Westbrook and and Paul Pierce. Russell is the perfect point guard for this team with his decent jump shooting ability and his explosive drives. He’s the perfect 3v3 point guard, period. Paul Pierce then closes out the team nicely with his pick and pop ability and excellent movement off the ball. He also won’t give up any baskets on defense, with can’t be overlooked in short games like these. And probably most importantly, neither of these guys are going to clog up the paint, giving Dwight the space he needs to wreck faces down low.
Jake: Its your boy Kobe again, and my already stacked team, which includes me, is about to get better. Need another team guy, a guy who’s gonna subscribe to the Kobe system. That man is Chris Bosh. I’ve been watching this guy play with some scrubs in Miami and this guy knows his place and does his job. Perfect, because I need a rebounder to pass the ball to Iguo, who passes to me for the shot. He’s got that perfect 3-3 game because he’s big, but he’s got an outside jumper and moves well for his size. Just looking at my team right now, oh man, my jaw is protruding so hard thinking about it.
Frank: Just in case the Double-D combo had too much energy, Rose goes with someone who can hold down the middle. Oh yeah, and he’s the second 7-footer on the team. Ladies and gentlemen: Andrew Bynum. Sure, his lack of agility isn’t exactly desirable in a 3’s game, but with Dirk and Derrick running all over the place, Bynum should be good for double digit rebounds.
Jalbs: Team LeBronDridge needs a ball-handler, and there are two left on the board, Rondo and Tony Parker. I originally was going to take Parker with this pick, but I feel that Rondo is better at getting into the lane and kicking the ball out. With two guys who excel at the mid-range game, Rondo is a nice complementary piece. Team LeBron might be the best defensive team in the tournament, given Rondo’s on-ball skills. The only concern is facing a team with a true center, as Aldridge might not be up to task.
Roo: As incredible as KD is at absolutely everything, he’s just a little too skinny to body up the big men down low, especially since I don’t think there’s a way to win this thing without going through team Dwight. This leaves me stuck between the only two big men left on the board, Hibbert and Marc Gasol. I think if I’m KD I need to go Hibbert here. First off, he’s not Spanish, which is great, and secondly, he is way more athletic, meaning he can guard people outside the post, which I don’t think Marc can manage that well. Team KD to the ‘ship!
Jake: Team Wade-Griffin is in need of some solid defensive help. In the 3-3 format we’re in need of a lanky, perimeter guy to defend the Lebron, Melo types. Luol is perfect here, and he’s got an offensive game to go along with a tenacious attitude on the boards. This guy is really developing into the kind of NBA talent people thought he’d be when he was at Duke. Great character guy too, so he’d really gonna fit in with team Wade. We’re gonna kill it on the chemistry end, and our competitiveness is only enhanced with a guy like Deng. Wade has spoken.
Frank: So I kind of screwed myself as Chris Paul here; I’m left with either Tony Parker or Marc Gasol. Process of elimination, I’m not about to share the point position, so I’m picking up Gasol. This really hurts my ability to spread out on the court, but, again, two big men is always a challenge for a defense. I’m feeling a little high-low post action, with KLove up near the elbow.
Jalbs: Welp, this did not go as planned. When I took Nash, I was not expecting to be saddled with a second point guard. But with the final pick in the Inaugural UGS NBA All-Star 3 v. 3 Tournament, Team Melo snags Tony Parker. I’ll be honest, this is the worst team of the eight. We can’t rebound, we can’t play defense, and we can’t even post up someone taller than 6’8’. We’re going to get bounced in the first round by Team Howard, and it won’t be close. Our only hope is if we just jack threes from beginning to end, but even with three good shooters, we’re in trouble. Where’s Tyson Chandler when you need him?

Next post…Who wins the damn thing?

Hoop It Up: Revamping All-Star Weekend

Lebron:"I'll take Melo" Wade: "But you two play the same position...ohh"

There are some things I just won’t ever understand. Spanish. That inexplicable extra syllable in the middle of Wednesday. The reason they don’t just take those flying eagles to Mordor in the beginning of LOTR. And why every All-Star weekend is boring. How can collecting the most talented people in each sport and pitting them against one another suck so badly? Its baffling. The Probowl is a half-speed game with blitzing explicitly banned. The NHL attempted to inject some excitement by installing a draft before the game but its flopped. The MLS has its best players play a renowned foreign club, but they look terrible on the pitch because they’ve never played together. The MLB tried to spice things up by making the game mean something, but well…its still baseball. And somehow, despite all of this, the NBA all-star game still manages to be the worst of the bunch.

The NBA’s all star weekend has such potential, but every event manages to fail miserably and its capped off with a meaningless game that makes Melo’s regular season defense seem astounding. The players know they are out there to put on a show, which they most certainly do. But those of us who actually like basketball outside of Sports Center’s top 10 plays are left with a weekend devoid of real games. I’ve sat around for a while trying to figure out how to fix the game, but aside from unfair(and most likely cap-rules violating) monetary compensation for the winning team I can’t figure out how to motivate the players enough to make the game exciting. That’s when I decided that David Stern just needs to scrap the game all-together and replace it with something entirely new, an 8-team 3v3 tournament.

All-star voting would remain the same, however the total number of all stars would be reduced by two(one from each conference) which isn’t such a bad thing with each conference getting 12 all-stars. Next there would be a fantasy draft, with the top 8 vote getters becoming the team captains regardless of position. The one stipulation of the draft being that the captains aren’t allowed to select their regular season teammates, solving the main problem of the NHL’s all-star draft. Once the draft ends, the teams would then be seeded 1 though 8 based on its players cumulative all-star votes(which are unknown to the captains at the time of drafting). After that they play good-old schoolyard basketball to 21 points, 1’s and 2’s, on a nice wide open court with the winner getting bragging rights and some form of charity prize (think homerun derby, where each team get a family they are playing for, and those families sit courtside). As for motivation on the defensive end, they would play winner’s ball(the team that scores get the ball back), so any team not willing to try on defense wouldn’t get to touch the ball offensively.

I don’t see how this idea doesn’t work. I toyed around with a 1v1 tournament but realized it would take way too long and would completely exclude point guards(too short) and centers(lacking ball skills). This format however replicates probably the most commonly played style of basketball around the country and can make for some really exciting moments. Who doesn’t want to watch Kevin Durant on a podium trying to figure out if Deron Williams might fall to the next round or if he should take a point guard now? Or see Lebron backing down Dwight Howard before dishing the ball to Kobe who throws an alley-oop to Derek Rose. I dream about things like this. The game would be fast paced, wide open, always up in the air, and most importantly a refreshing break from the regular season grind. David Stern, please do this. Now.

And be sure to check back for when Jake, Jalbs, and I break down the fantasy drafts and matchups for this year’s all-stars.

In Defense of ‘The Nationer’

Author’s Note: This article appears in the Feb. 23 issue of The Villanovan

By now, you’ve probably seen the new social media craze to strike the University, VU memes. Memes are nothing new, but making them University-specific helped them catch fire. One of my personal favorites is the one sporting a picture of the typical college freshman. An enthusiastic college sweatshirt-wearing freshman looks excited for his first day of classes, only to have a clever insult, written in block letters, put him in his place. The University related ones are even better, such as ‘’Tries to take shuttle from west to south’/‘Ends up at Rosemont College.’” Classic freshman mistake. I know, because I’ve done it.

But the University college freshman has a relative, and this one lacks both a meme and a particular grade. This relative is the Nationer, and you know at least one, and probably a whole Blue Key family’s worth. Now what is a Nationer? The term has been rising in popularity over the last year or so, creeping its way into status updates and casual conversations, and I got a hold of an expert to set the record straight.

Recently graduated Buzzkill columnist Rob Wilber is an authority on all things Nationer, and when I needed the term defined, the choice was obvious. His nearly 500 answers to my request just affirmed what I already knew: Wilber knows Nationers.

“To paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography, you know a Nationer when you see one,” Wilber said. “Although difficult to fit into a singular archetype, most Nationers do share several characteristics that can help an amateur Nationer-watcher confirm they are in the presence of the real McCoy.”

My definition of a Nationer is similar. Nationers are in love with the University, and get involved with as many clubs and groups as soon as possible. They also tend to view it in an unreasonably positive light, defending the University even if common sense proves otherwise. If you’re a student who’s ever said, “Man, I can’t believe I do all this work for (insert University-specific organization),” then you’re a Nationer. If you have ever painted your face for a ’Cats basketball game or pledged your undying love to Jay Wright or Scottie Reynolds, you’re a Nationer.  If you ever wore a ’Nova sweatshirt on top of a ’Nova T-shirt with a ’Nova lanyard in your pocket, then you my friend, are a Nationer. Let’s be honest, just by picking up a copy of this newspaper, you’re probably a Nationer.

Characteristics of Nationers are wide-ranging, and encompass a variety of different student groups and activities. For example, Wilber finds the Orientation program to be a top producer of Nationers.

“Nationers not only attended, but also actively enjoyed, every informational seminar, group activity and ‘Baby Shark’ sing-a-long,” said Wilber. “Statistics show that 87 percent of Nationers who loved their orientation apply to become OCs themselves.”

I’m no stats guy, but those numbers seem pretty accurate. As a member of the Orientation staff this past August, Nationers make up a vast majority of the staff and a healthy amount of new students. I am forever grateful to the students in my group who didn’t find me clinically insane for teaching them “Flee Fly” on the second morning.

In my experience, the term Nationer has recently become a derogatory term, a University-specific slur directed at those students who seem to love the University just a bit too much. Well I’m here to make a stand for the Nationers. To be clear, I definitely consider myself to be one of these ‘Nationers.’ My activities on campus place me squarely in Nationer territory, and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is being looked down upon because I love the place that I now consider my second home.

When I came to the University, I came for one thing: basketball. Schools in Maine (my homeland) were never able to offer anything close to a basketball program with Final Four potential. But when I got here, it immediately became clear that if you want to get involved and want to embrace what the University has to offer, you can do it.  It might take a few years, and you might get labeled a Nationer, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Nationers are important to the University, because without them, I imagine there would be a whole lot more apathy on this campus. Anti-nationers surely scoff at the students who feel the need to take on so many responsibilities that they do something as horrifying as stay in on a Friday night to catch up on work, but in order for yin to exist, there needs to be a yang, right? And Anti-nationers are insufferable when they start to rip on the University because it’s the cool thing to do. I’d much rather sit next to the freshman girl who raves about Jay Wright’s outfit than the two morons who sat behind me on Saturday night who claimed that Wright was “the worst coach in the NCAA.” Let’s be real, the man is not Coach K, but he is one of the better coaches in the country.

As my college career comes to a close—100 days ‘til graduation has come and gone—I know that when I look back on my four years here, my best memories are going to be Nationer memories. Sure, it’s easy to write off the student groups at the Oreo and the fundraisers in the IK as, as Wilber puts it, “cog in the machine that is Nova Nation.” But give Nationers a chance. We’re not going away. In fact, we’ll be the first ones to sign up for Alumni weekend. And you know what? We can’t wait to come back home.

High Hopes for Villanova Basketball

Author’s Note: This article appears in the Feb. 16 issue of The Villanovan (before we submitted that stink-bomb against USF.

Given the success that the men’s basketball team has had over the last decade, it is in no way an exaggeration to call this year’s edition of the Wildcats a disappointment. A frustrating lack of offensive rhythm has been coupled with soft post play and poor shot selection, leading to an 11-13 record heading into last  night’s game against South Florida.

Whether it was Dom Cheek’s jaw-droppingly bad shooting against Marquette, or the team’s ability to blow a nine-point lead to Santa Clara with under three minutes remaining, the 2011-12 season has been one of the more frustrating teams to watch that I’ve ever seen. (And I watched Sebastian Telfair play for the Celtics for an entire season.)

We’ve watched our team lose at home to South Florida, a team we would have blown out during the Scottie Reynolds era. We watched Maalik Wayns’ career night against Cincinnati get wasted by a porous defense. But perhaps worst of all, we got blown out during the Holy War, which ended up being a glorified dunk contest.

It has been a season of blown leads, double-digit halftime deficits and sprained MCLs.

Yet, I remain hopeful. Last Tuesday night I found myself standing in the Pavilion with a handful of my roommates, lamenting the fact that we had played a completely atrocious first half of basketball. I tweeted that it was the worst half I had ever seen Villanova play. That means it was worse than last year’s loss to George Mason, or the stinker we submitted against St. Mary’s during my sophomore year.

Frustrated, my roommates and I felt it was time to rally the crowd. Armed with merely smartphones and our voices, we started cheering louder than we had all game, shouting not-so-clever insults at the follically-challenged Providence head coach. It didn’t work, and we soon found ourselves down 19 with Wayns affixed to the bench due to an (at that time) unknown knee injury.

I distinctly remember thinking, as we found ourselves nearing a 20-point hole, that it’s incredible how far our team had fallen in a few short years. For students any younger than the Class of 2012, it’s been a largely hollow basketball experience. Two promising starts have been followed by late season collapses. At least we don’t have to worry about this year, right?

But somehow, things changed. Seemingly out of nowhere, JayVaughn Pinkston caught fire and started to take over the game. His ability to get to the basket and draw contact—albeit only by driving to his right side, he’ll need to fix that part of his game soon—slowly helped the ’Cats chip away at the Friars’ lead. As the lead shrunk and the crowd got louder, you could feel the momentum start to sway. And when Pinkston scored the last seven points of the game to help the ’Cats take the lead for good, the Pavilion hadn’t seen that sort of decibel level since College GameDay came to town.

Were we all the reason that Pinkston flipped the switch and had a career night? Probably not. In fact, I’ll say there’s a pretty good chance that we had little to no effect on the result of the game. To me, it doesn’t matter. For about 15 minutes, my friends and I felt like we were living back in the glory days. It didn’t matter that the team we beat was Providence—to us it was an incredible comeback win against a conference opponent. After the game, chants of “JVP” echoed through the student section, and every fan in the Pavilion could see the pure joy on Pinkston’s face as he stared into the stands. In a year of so many lows, this team has been in need of some highs, and Pinkston delivered against the Friars.

I have hope for Villanova basketball. We are likely to return all of our players—if Wayns leaves for the NBA, he is making a big mistake—to next year’s team, with the addition of two ESPN Top 100 recruits. An extra year of practice and a summer to stress fundamentally sound basketball may be enough to take this team from a Big East also-ran to a national title contender. For me, Pinkston is the key. I believe that his career night is another sign of what’s to come from this former McDonald’s All-American. Keep in mind, Pinkston essentially took an entire season off before this summer’s trip to Europe. With more playing time against quality opponents, I foresee Pinkston developing into a DeJuan Blair-type force in the near future, and leading the Wildcats out of the Big East basement.

Don’t get me wrong—this team still has lots of questions, and it is still currently mired in an abysmal stretch of games. But count me among those that believe that the future will be bright. We may be headed (at this point, hopefully) toward an NIT berth, but it’s important to take a step back and put this season in perspective. With no current seniors making a major contribution, this team is built for a deep tournament run in 2012-13.

I wish I could be here to see it, but I’m not too concerned. I get the feeling we’ll playing our fair share of games in the national spotlight for years to come.

You’ve All Gone Linsane

Remember this guy?

Its true. Don’t try to deny it. Every single one of you has gone Linsane. Love for the Knick’s point guard has been sweeping nation ever since he put up 25-5-7 against the Nets seemingly out of nowhere. He’s started the four games since, leading his team on a 5 game win streak that may have turned their season around. Lin’s rise to becoming a starter has been the one bright spot this season for the struggling Knicks. His play has even spawned a movement of impassioned fans who think he’s the NBA’s next Asian superstar. All of which is totally acceptable in the Twitter world of sports fandom where people fall in and out of love with players with amazing speed(Who was that Spanish point guard for the Timberwolves again?). What’s not acceptable, however is things such as this, “‘Melo has to change the way he plays”(NYTIMES) about ‘Melo’s return. That’s Linsanity, it’s plain old insanity.

We’re not talking about a run of the mill forward here, this is Carmelo Anthony, the guy the Knicks completely gutted their team for last season. He’s arguably the best pure scorer in the league and suddenly he’s the one who needs to change his game. In his 9 year NBA career ‘Melo has never averaged under 20 ppg; Lin last averaged double digit minutes played when he played in the D-league and was cut twice prior to the season. What exactly am I missing here? Where in those 5 games did an undrafted point guard with 4 career starts become this team’s best player?

I’m not trying to say Lin is a bad player. He can run the pick and roll well and should definitely start for a Knicks team that is completely devoid of point guards with the Baron Davis injury. But as of writing(using stats from his starts), he ranks fourth in the league in usage percentage(an estimation of a teams possessions a player uses while on the court) at 32.8% and attempts 19.5 field goals per games. Those are practically Kobe numbers. He’s also averaging the highest turnover rate in the league at 5.5 per game, almost a full point higher than the second place player Russell Westbrook. If you still aren’t convinced, then take a look at Lin’s numbers from last season. He played 29 games for the Warriors, averaging 9.8 minutes per game and 2.8 points per game. Clearly not super star numbers.

Of course, Lin fits much better into the D’Antoni system and can run the pick and roll almost as well as anyone, but once ‘Melo returns he’s going to need to defer the ball much more than he has, and even moreso once Amar’e comes back. If he keeps playing well, look for him to finish the season with 12ppg and 4.5 apg. He’s a good player and who hopefully has a great future, but let’s be serious, it’s absurd to claim that a 5x All-Star needs to cater to a 4x game starter.

P.S. Jeremy Lin, if you somehow find this, keep up the good work. You’re on my fantasy team.