Cayman Islands: Exciting US College Basketball next week – Event Preview
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – Tickets are on sale for the Cayman Islands Classic, a NCAA Men’s Basketball Preseason Tournament featuring eight top Division 1 Men’s college basketball teams from the U.S. All 12 games will take place at the John Gray gym from Monday, 20 November through Wednesday, 22 November at 12:00pm, 2:30pm, 5:00pm and 7:30pm each day. The Cincinnati Bearcats, Iowa Hawkeyes, Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, Wyoming Cowboys, Buffalo Bulls, South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Richmond Spiders and University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers will compete in the inaugural tournament which showcases a level of basketball never before seen or played in the Cayman Islands.
Tickets cost US$50 per person for the preliminary games and the semi-final and championship games are US$60.00 and US$75 respectively. Online users can get a 10 per cent discount on tickets by using the code SAVE10. Tickets for youth under 16 years of age are CI$25 per game. Fans can also purchase a Booster Pass which guarantees tickets to all three of their favourite team’s games or an All-Tournament Pass which will give purchasers access to all games at a savings of US$145. In addition, organisers have created a special package for schools where students in P.E. classes can attend the earlier games and experience the event. Limited VIP courtside seats are also available.
“I know that there is a huge basketball fraternity in the Cayman Islands, and I hope to see members of that community out in their numbers next week,” said Coach Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro, President of Caymax Sports Ltd., host of the event. “Plus, the NBA season is currently in session so there is a lot of basketball fever on the island and I think fans would enjoy seeing some court action live. It promises to be an exciting lineup.”
Residents can purchase tickets Monday through Friday at Unit 6B Crown Plaza (formerly known as Trinity Square) from 11:00am to 3:00pm or call 922.6163.
The CI Classic is sponsored by Mountain West Conference, the Ministries of Tourism and Youth & Sports, KPMG, Hertz Cayman Islands, Cayman National, Capt. Marvin’s, Cayman Cabana, KPMG, Caybrew, CUC, Cayman Turtle Centre, McAlpine, Cayman National, FastSigns, Seven Fathoms Run, Gatorade, Hurley’s Media, Smoothie King and Cayman Compass.
Dream Becomes Reality With Cayman Islands Classic
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – After years of planning, a dream will become a reality when the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic tips off this Monday at John Gray Gymnasium.
This three-day preseason holiday tournament features eight of the top college basketball teams in the United States.
Five of the teams competed in postseason play in 2017 with Cincinnati, and South Dakota State advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati bowed out after a second round loss to UCLA.
Cincinnati was ranked No. 18 in the final 2017 Associated Press poll, posting a 30-6 record while making its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bearcats have picked right up where they left off from last season, owning a 3-0 record entering the tournament while being ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll.
South Dakota State, which plays in the Summit League, made its fourth appearance in the last seven years (2012, 2013, 2016) in the 2017 NCAA Tournament falling to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga in the first round. The Jackrabbits will feature the nation’s top returning scorer in 6-9 forward Mike Daum who averaged 25.1 points last year.
Iowa and Richmond participated in the NIT. Iowa had a 19-15 record last year, falling to the eventual NIT champ TCU in that tournament’s second round.
Richmond, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, posted a 22-12 record last season while advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 2017 NIT. The Spiders
Wyoming went 23-15 last season en route to winning the College Basketball Invitational – the school’s first major postseason title since winning the 1943 NCAA Championship.
UAB owned a 17-16 mark last season. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, which competes in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference, had a 21-12 record last season with its last appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2014
Buffalo went 17-15 last year. The Bulls captured its first outright Mid-American Conference championship in 2015, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
Iowa will face Louisiana in the opening game at 12 p.m. local time followed by South Dakota State meeting Wyoming at 2:30 p.m.
In the first game of the evening session at 5 p.m. Richmond plays UAB. Buffalo and Cincinnati will conclude opening-day action in the final matchup of the day starting at 7:30 p.m.
Semifinal round games are slated for 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21.Losing teams will compete in their second game Nov. 21 with tip offs at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The seventh-place game will open the final day of competition on Wednesday, Nov. 22 starting at 12 p.m., followed by the fifth-place game (2:30 p.m.), third-place game (5 p.m.) and title game (7:30 p.m.) to crown the Cayman Islands Classic champion.
The Cayman Islands Classic is being sponsored by the Mountain West Conference.
Here are capsule summaries on the complete eight-team field
However, unlike in Coach Nate Oats first season leading the program, the Bulls were not able to make a run in March and reach the NCAA Tournament. That ended Buffalo’s two straight seasons with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. But it was still a good season for the Bulls and they have turned into one of the more consistent programs in the MAC. That should lead to another campaign where the Bulls compete for a conference title and a trip back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls are a contender to win their third Mid-American Conference title in four years because the team’s top two players guard CJ Massinburg and forward Nick Perkins return. The duo, both picked to the East Division Preseason All-MAC team, averaged double-digit points last season.
Massinburg, who is the team’s top returning three-point shooter (.331), averaged 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds as a sophomore and will benefit from the influx of ballhandlers.
The Bulls have also brought in a pair of transfers expected to start in wing Jeremy Harris and guard Wes Clark. Harris, formerly of Gulf Coast Junior College, was the No. 8 player in North Carolina coming out of high school and was one of the best junior prospects available. Clark, a transfer from Missouri, will miss the first seven games due to NCAA transfer rules but solves the team’s questions at point guard once he’s available.
In the frontcourt, Nick Perkins and Ikenna Smart were both part-time starters last season. Perkins, a 6-8 junior, averaged 12.1 points and a team high 6.6 rebounds. He can stretch out the defense with his three-point shooting ability. Smart, a 6-10 junior, is a large presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Bearcats returns their top three scorers and six other lettermen from last season’s squad that won 30 games, went undefeated at home and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year.
Cincinnati is one of eight schools in the nation to have appeared in the last seven NCAA Tournaments, joining Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, VCU and Wisconsin.
Conference coaches picked the Bearcats as the preseason favorite to win The American Athletic Conference, edging league newcomer Wichita State by one point (116-115).
Senior forwards Gary Clark and Kyle Washington, along with junior swingman Jacob Evans III were named to conference preseason second team. Clark has been named to watch lists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year and the Lute Olson Player of the Year awards. He became the 51st member of Cincinnati’s 1,000-point club when he produced 13 points and 11 rebounds in the season opener against Savannah State.
Evans has been named to the 2018 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Watch List. He scored 19 points, making four three-point baskets, against Savannah State. Evans ranked among The American Athletic Conference leaders in six categories last season: three-point field goal percentage (fifth at .418), steals (ninth at 1.3), three-pointers made (12th at 1.9), scoring (12th at 13.5 points), field goal percentage (11th at .473) and free throw percentage (14th at .732).
Evans was selected to the American Championship All-Tournament team after helping the Bearcats reach the title game. He was UC’s top scorer, averaging 17.0 points in the three games played as he scored 51 points, including 20 points in the opener against
Tulsa and 21 more against UConn in the semifinal
Head coach Mick Cronin ranks as the winningest coach in the nation among active coaches his age (46) or younger and has the second-most Division I wins (308) among active coaches under 50-years old. He also ranks as one of only six coaches to take his team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven years, joining Mark Few (Gonzaga), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).
While Iowa lost the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Peter Jok, it returns everyone else who contributed as the Hawkeyes eye an upper division finish in one of college basketball’s premier conferences along with a return to the NCAA Tournament.
Remember, Iowa played well without Jok for two games last season, beat Purdue at home — and that was with Caleb Swanigan — and won at Maryland and Wisconsin at the end of the season.
The Hawkeyes will feature the deepest team in the Cayman Islands Classic, returning 85.9 percent of their total player minutes from their 2016-17 team which won 19 games.
Forward Tyler Cook and guard Jordan Bohannon were named to the five-team All-Big Ten Freshman team last year.
Cook averaged12.3 points last year and was third on the team in rebounding at 5.3 rebounds per game. He didn’t miss a shot in the two NIT games while averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Bohannon has been named to the 20-player watch list for the 2018 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. One of five players named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team last year, Bohannon led the Hawkeyes in assists (175) and 3-pointers made (89), and was third in scoring (10.9 ppg). His 89 triples shattered Iowa’s single-season freshman record,
Sophomore guard Isaiah Moss (6.5 ppg) along with sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl also return. Pemsl averaged 8.9 points last year, while setting a freshman single season in field goal percentage at 61.7 percent. Meanwhile junior forward Nicholas Baer, voted the Big Ten Conference Sixth Man of the Year, is sidelined for four weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his finger
Freshman forwards Jack Nunge and Luka Garza shore up the lane defensively.The 6-11 Garza was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after averaging team bests in scoring (13.5), rebounding (9.0), and blocked shots (2.5) in his first two games of this season.
Louisiana-Lafayette hopes to ride the momentum from last season, going on a six game win-streak to end the regular season 21-12 overall and 10-8 in the Sun Belt.
The Ragin Cajuns, who were picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference preseason poll, will rely on senior forward Bryce Washington and senior guard Frank Bartley.
Washington averaged13.5 points and 11.2 rebounds last year. Bartley was named the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year after averaging 15.3 points
The trio of JaKeenan Gant, Malik Marquetti, and Marcus Stroman should also make an impact.
A summer trip to Cuba helped developed team chemistry.
“Our culture is as good as it’s ever been.” said head coach Bob Marlin said, “We’re excited about what experience the Cuba trip brought to the guys both on and off the court, probably more off than on because they’re on it all the time. When you go to a foreign country and you don’t have internet, you tend to talk to one another.”
During the trip to Cuba, Marlin’s crew worked hard on making sure that their defense was on point and the head coach stated that it looks like the defense looked improved following a closed scrimmage a couple of weeks ago. If this defense can continue to improve, the gap between second and fifth place in the Sun Belt could be a lot smaller.
“I like our chances.” Marlin said. “We have no one that made first-team All-League last year, so a lot of teams have players back that are ranked ahead of ours and that’s fine with me. I like our guys sitting out, I like our newcomers, it’s not about the preseason poll, but the end of season poll that matters the most for All-Conference and season standings.”
Richmond returns four of its six leading scorers from a team that won 22 games a year ago and advanced to the NIT Quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons.
Khwan Fore, the Spiders leading returning scorer, will not play while recovering from a stress reaction in his left shin. With Fore out, the Spiders are once against expected to rely on a youthful starting lineup.
The Spiders opened a season without a senior in the starting lineup for the first time since 1999. The Spiders started a redshirt junior (Solly Stansbury), two sophomores (De’MonteB uckingham and Nick Sherod), a redshirt freshman (Grant Golden), and a true freshman (Jacob Gilyard) in their season opener against Delaware.
Richmond has just two players in their final year of eligibility, second-fewest in the Atlantic-10 behind George Mason.
The Spiders led the Atlantic-10 in field goal percentage in each of the last two seasons. In 2017-18, Richmond can become the first team to ever lead the conference in shooting in three straight years.
Buckingham is the Spiders most prominent returning player in 2017-18 following a freshman campaign last season that ended with A-10 Rookie of the Year honors. Buckingham was the Spiders fourth-leading scorer a season ago (10.5 PPG) and finished second on the team in rebounds (5.6 RPG). He also ranked fourth in scoring and second in rebounding among all A-10 freshmen. He also is one of 21 players selected to the Watch List for the Julius Erving Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top small forward.
Sherod is ready to step into a larger role following a fast finish to his freshman campaign. After starting the first two games of the year, Sherod came off the bench for the next two months until being re-inserted into the starting lineup in late January. With Sherod averaging nearly 10 points per game, the Spiders won 11 of their final 16 to close 2016-17.
Stansbury, 22, the oldest starter by more than two years, sat out last season due to NCAA rules following his enrollment at Richmond after three seasons playing overseas. His explosive leaping ability comes from his father Terence, a three-time participant in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and the 1984 A-10 Player of the Year at Temple.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
It was, anyone who was there will tell you, an exhausting but also thrilling four-month journey. The Jacks finished 18-17 in TJ Otzelberger’s first year as coach, losing to Gonzaga in the first round of the Big Dance as a 16-seed.
As much as the Jacks learned last year that they need a strong supporting cast surrounding their big man, this team will still go as far as Daum can take them. The 6-foot-9 junior finished second in the nation with 25.1 points per game last year, taking a significant step forward from what had been a breakout freshman season. He lost weight prior to last year to increase his athleticism, and focused this offseason to put some of it back on in the form of added muscle, in hopes of becoming a better rebounder and defender. If that proves successful, look out.
Senior forward Reed Tellinghuisen will again serve as Daum’s primary wingman, looking to improve on last year’s 11.7 points and .400 shooting percentage. Versatile swingman Chris Howell could be key to the team’s success – he averaged 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds last year, Brandon Key, a 5-10 junior from Southwest Tennessee Community College, is expected to man the point guard spot. He’s lightning quick and the Jacks expect he’ll be a more reliable outside shooter than the departed Michael Orris, but as was the case with Orris, there could be an adjustment period as he learns the system.
Another Juco transfer, Dallas Polk-Hilliard, a 6-6 forward, brings length and athleticism. He averaged 19.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last year, and shot 42 percent on 3-pointers.
UAB, which was picked to finish second in the Conference USA Coaches preseason poll. returns two starters, five additional letterwinners and welcomes six newcomers to a team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 Conference USA Tournament last season. In addition, the Blazers proved to be one of the top defensive teams in the nation for the third consecutive year, ranking second in the league and 28th in the NCAA with 4.9 blocked shots per game.
Blazer seniors William Lee and Chris Cokley were both named to the preseason All-Conference USA team. Lee served as both the offensive and defensive catalyst for the Blazers last season, leading UAB with 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and ranking 20th and 11th in C-USA, respectively. Lee also captured his second straight Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The 6-9 Lee led the league with 80 blocks to lead the league and rank 20th in the NCAA with 2.4 per game. He posted eight games with at least four blocks and is on pace to become UAB’s all-time leader in shot blocks and enters the 2017-18 season 10th all-time in Conference USA history.
Lee also was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first Blazer to ever win twice and the first repeat winner since Joey Dorsey of Memphis accomplished the feat in 2007 and 2008.
Cokley scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds along with five assists in the Blazers’ 96-67 season opening romp past Jacksonville. He averaged 12.1 points last year, while ranked second in Conference USA with a .582 field goal percentage.
The Cowboys, under coach Allen Edwards, have three starters back from team that went 23-15 winning the College Basketball Invitational championship, besting Coastal Carolina in the tournament’s best two-of-three final.
The expectations are higher this year, especially with 6-7 wing Justin James leading the charge. He was the MVP of the CBI and the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year in last season. after averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a sophomore.
Wyoming, picked in the preseason media poll to finish seventh in the 11-team Mountain West, is looking to be the next league team to parlay a solid run in the College Basketball Insiders tournament in March to bigger and better things the following season.
The MWC has won the past two CBI tournaments and has had a team championship three of the past four seasons.
In 2014, Fresno State lost in the finals, but used the experience to build the program into one that has averaged better than 11 league wins in the past three seasons, including a 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance.In 2016, Nevada in coach Eric Musselman’s rookie season, it won the CBI and won the MWC the following season.
“A lot of people get some success then they go back down,” said 6-foot-8 senior forward Hayden Dalton, who averaged 12.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game a season ago. “We don’t want to get comfortable with the CBI.”
Edwards, it seems, isn’t about to let that happen.
“The intensity with everything is increased,” said 6-7 junior guard and preseason All-Mountain West selection Justin James (16.0 ppg/5.0 rpg) when asked if there was any difference he saw from Year 1 to Year 2 in his head coach. “We’re not trying to get to the CBI this year. We want more.”
Dalton scored a career-high 30 points leading the Cowboys to a 74-65 home victory past Chattanooga in its season opener Nov. 10.
The schedule for the tournament can be found at this link. http://www.