Basketball Never Stops and there is no place on Earth that statement is truer than Lexington, Kentucky. The home of the Kentucky Wildcats and the most passionate fanbase in College Basketball was the site of Day 1 of The Basketball Tournament. The Tournament is a 64 team bracket where former and current professional basketball players play for 2 million dollars. The 64 teams are broken up into 8 regions with the winners of each region playing for the major prize money. The Basketball Tournament is a very high-level event with some very familiar faces. Former college All-Americans highlighted the first day of the tournament with the brightest star being new Los Angeles Laker Center and former Kentucky Wildcat, Demarcus Cousins. Cousins has a team this year in which he serves in the role of General Manager. If Day 1 is any indication, Rob Pelinka should worry about his job. Cousins has put together a very talented roster filled with long, athletic players that are definite household names. But the Cousins led Team Loyalty has stiff competition from the rest of the Lexington regional teams, and Day 1 proved that this tournament will be hard-fought.
Game 1: #3 Fort Wayne Champs vs. #6 Showtime
As soon as I saw team Showtime come out in shorts that resembled a popcorn bucket I knew that this game would belong to Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne is entering its 4th year in TBT and their experience was largely present throughout. Showtime held tough early led by former Georgia Bulldog, Charles Mann Jr. (16 points) and former Rhode Island star, Akeem Richmond (12 Points), but the depth of Fort Wayne was just too much for Showtime to handle. The bench for Fort Wayne outscored Showtime 39-13 led by former Georgia Bulldog, Travis Leslie (20 Points) and former Gonzaga Bulldog, Matt Bouldin (15 points). Fort Wayne was led by their Point Guard, Trey McKinney Jones who is maybe the best floor general in this region. Fort Wayne advanced to the second round by beating Showtime 96-59.
Game 2: #1 Team Loyalty vs. #8 Hoopville
If game 1 was a warmup, then game 2 was a war. Team Loyalty is stacked with talent and plays with the same passion that their General Manager, Demarcus Cousins brings to every game. Many expected this game to be a rollover due to the size and athletic advantage of Team Loyalty, but Hoopville proved to be a formidable foe. Hoopville dictated the tempo early by playing extremely hard and rough against Loyalty, but in the end, the talent gap was too wide. Team Loyalty bolsters one of the strongest backcourt combos with Pierre Jackson and Darius Johnson-Odom who combined to score 50 points for their squad. Hoopville was led with a double-double from Anthony Spencer who had 33 points and 12 boards. The most intriguing thing from this game comes to the fact that Team Loyalty didn’t seem to play well together until the second half. Isaiah Austin said after the game that this morning was the first time the team had ever practiced together. The more experience that they get, the more dangerous they become. Team Loyalty moves on to Round 2 with a 107-98 win.
Game 3: #4 KBC vs. #5 Peoria All-Stars
Game 3 had everything that you would want, alley-oops, three-pointers, and a game-winning shot. KBC has a fearsome backcourt led by former Tennessee All-American Chris Lofton, and Western Kentucky superstar, A.J. Slaughter. Slaughter came right out of the gate hitting 8 of his first 9 shots and finished with a game-high 34 points. Lofton started slowly, but found his range from deep and poured in 18. KBC also got a nice outing from former EKU big man, Nick Mayo who scored 17. Peoria got down big but fought valiantly at the end until A.J. Slaughter crossed his man up and hit a 30 footer to win the game. KBC moved on to the second round to face Team Loyalty by taking down Peoria 94-82.
Game 4: #2 Bluegrass Boys vs. #7 D2
This game was depressing. I am a Kentucky fan at heart and the Bluegrass Boys are an Alumni group from UK. Unfortunately, some of their best players (Derek Willis, Josh Harrelson) were unable to suit up for the Bluegrass Boys which made this game very difficult. D2 was led by Shaun Willett (19 Points) and Mike Davis (17 points), two guys that made shot after shot at the most difficult times. Former Kentucky Wildcat Marcus Lee added 15 for the Bluegrass Boys and attempted to will the team to victory, but the Boys were undone by their turnovers and lack of rebounding. The hosting team loses in the first round and all of the Kentucky fans walked away disappointed as D2 dismantled the Bluegrass Boys, 77-62.
Team Power Rankings going into Round 2:
- Team Loyalty is Love
- Ft. Wayne Champs
Player Power Rankings going into Round 2:
- A.J. Slaughter (KBC)
- Darius Odom-Johnson (Loyalty)
- Pierre Jackson (Loyalty)
- Trey McKinney Jones (Fort Wayne)
- Isaiah Austin (Team Loyalty)
- Travis Leslie (Fort Wayne)
- Mike Davis (D2)
- Stephaun Branch (D2)
- Chris Lofton (KBC)
- Nick Mayo (KBC)
10 Random things to know from Day 1:
- The level of play in TBT Is outstanding, this event is great!
- I’ve never seen shorts worse than the shorts from team Showtime
- Demarcus Cousins cares about this event, he was always coaching his guys up
- Team Hoopville are guys that would send you to the hospital if you played against them
- A.J. Slaughter was a beast on the floor
- Kevin Galloway missed at least 9 layups for The Bluegrass Boys
- The crowd was awesome
- I got lost trying to find the press conference room and ended up walking across the practice gym floor looking like an idiot
- Isaiah Austin has an awesome story, one that I will talk more about as the tournament progresses
- There are many of these guys that could be pros right now
Predictions for tomorrow’s games:
Team Loyalty over KBC
Fort Worth Champs over D2