The Greentree Pro-AM summer league is winding down to a halt. When I’m not breaking my back sitting on the bleachers I get sad about this. I love basketball. I love watching, analyzing, looking for tendencies, critiquing the awful coaching, and joking around with the other writers. But there are also nights like tonight, where there was some less-than-stellar basketball being played.
Today was the semifinals of the league. Game one featured the seven seed Shale Attorneys featuring Chuck Oliver squaring off against the number two seed South Hill Audi old guys. I added the last part on, but the players really are a bunch of former collegiate players still trying to ball out. Take former WPIAL star and Nebraskaguard Lance Jeter for instance, who can definitely still get to the tin but also looks like he ate Raymond Felton.
Anyway, Chuck didn’t look too bad. He showed up for a 7:15 game at 7:14, meaning he put exactly zero shots before the game. Unsurprisingly, his jump shot wasn’t on but he showed effectiveness getting to the rim, especially using his left. I also thought he passed very well in the transition game and moved well without the ball. Summer league basketball is a lot of one-on-one action, so moving without the ball doesn’t necessarily mean your teammates are feeding you open looks, but it didn’t go unnoticed here.
There was a nice ongoing discussion during the game about Chuck and the expectations the general fanbase may have for him. I like Chuck’s game and enjoyed watching him get to handle the ball a little bit in this game. However, I don’t think anyone should expect to see more than 25 minutes a game from him. He’s pretty average defensively and doesn’t have a very diverse offensive game. It’s a lot of spot up three’s and baseline floaters. I really think Marcquise Reed is going to push him for minutes because of how pesky Reed is defensively. It’ll be interesting to see what Rodney Pryor brings to the table too.
Chuck’s team did win to go to the final which is kind of incredible in its own right. Along with Oliver there is Duquesne guard Rene Castro (who, along with a lot of other Duquense guards, has looked really good) and Pitt forward Aron Nwanko, but other than that the roster is littered with two West Liberty wing players, a Cannon wing, and Pitt walk-on Joshua Ko (who’s awful). Good for them.
Game two featured Lucky Jones on team PGT versus Aaron Tate and Marcquise Reed of team System 1. It was a pretty awful game when you consider the level of talent playing. Lucky Jones started things off nice by hitting a deep elbow three then a dirty step back three at the top of the key. He also squared off defensively against Pitt’s Michael Young, an athletic forward with a significant size advantage. Even when there were times Lucky was overmatched in the low post, he did a great job with his positioning which allowed him to poke away the ball a few times. Young also gave us the most excitement in the night when him and Duquesne’s Darius Lewis got into it and received double technicals.
Much like we’ve seen with Lucky in the past, his jump shot wasn’t always there but he got to the line a ton. That’s what makes Lucky a special player; the ability to effect the game in so many different ways.
Marcquise Reed didn’t see the floor a lot and when he did didn’t do a whole lot. He nailed an easy three when a defender didn’t step up off a pick and roll. I think he finished with seven points.
I’ve really enjoyed watching Aaron Tate play this summer. He’s shown up to almost every session and has shown an ability to at least try a few things, like working out of the low post. I doubt we’ll see it much (if at all) during the season but when he gets the ball in the low post on the right he hasn’t looked bad trying to move and finish with his left. Also, I am fully convinced he would be an Olympic-caliber volleyball player if he wanted to be. He has UPS.
Tate and Reed’s team went on to win the game and will face Chuck in the championship game on Wednesday. Overall, it was another relatively bland night of hoops, but these things happen. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the championship game Wednesday, but will try and run a story later in the week no matter what.
Until next time!