Greentree Report 6/20

By Steve DiMiceli
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It feels good to watch some basketball. Let me first thank the Pittsburgh Basketball Club for putting the Pro-Am together once again. The league just keeps getting better and better each year. The place was packed and sweaty, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the intimate setting.  Truly, this event helps make summer in Pittsburgh great.

On to the games. seven Dukes showed up tonight. Sean Johnson and Andre Marhold played for the white side in game one with Eric Evans in the blue. This turned out to be an excellent game with the blue team coming back from a 10 point deficit  with four minutes remaining to tie and go into overtime. Evans played no small part in the comeback scoring 4 of his 6 second half points down the stretch and assisting on a three pointer to put his team ahead with less than a minute left. Evans seemed take control of the game and wanted the ball in his hands in the final moments. He looked like Eric Evans of his sophomore year for stretches, but overall was inconsistent during the course of the game. In the overtime he didn't fair as well missing 2 FT's in the closing seconds that would've brought his team to within 2 or 3. He finished with 8 points going 2 for 9 from the floor and 0-2 from three (shot looked pretty flat), 3 assists to 2 turnovers and 2 rebounds.

Sean Johnson and Marhold both struggled to make an impact tonight offensively. Both came out flying but the evidence of rust was there. Marhold didn't make a single field goal in 5 attempts. He had one point on a made FT. On the preceding FT, he missed the rim entirely and drew some chuckles from the crowd. He did have 4 rebounds and his teammate Talib Zanna went over his back on at least two occasions to cost him more. He was in an ok position to get boards, but couldn't find the handle a couple of times. He passed the ball well, but didn't end up with any assists thanks to his teammates missing bunnies. He looked athletic, quick and received the ball well away from the basket and did a nice job of creating a shot for himself off the dribble. He also ran the court well and he continues to get smoother.

Johnson was noticeably frustrated. He seemed more out of basketball shape than the rest of the players. Not overweight or physically out of shape, but he seemed to tire quicker than some of the other guards. His shooting was not crisp. He rebounded the ball very, very well. 7 total by my count. He also had 3 assists to 3 TO's.  Like Evans, he went 2 of 9 from the floor and 0 for 2 from three. He missed two FT's.

The most interesting part of game one was Talib Zanna and incoming Pitt freshman Malcolm Gilbert battling down low. Zanna started out hot, but Gilbert slowly took control of the game. He had some highlight reel blocks including one on Sean. He wasn't a very good finisher tonight, but ended up with some easy put backs following his own shot. By my estimation, he had at least 437 rebounds. Pitt fans gushed about TJ last year. I'm one Duquesne fan who is going to gush about Gilbert. Here's how good he is. I assumed he was Khem Birch until I was corrected.

In the third game, TJ McConnell and Mike Talley were in white, and Jerry Jones and Derrick Martin were in blue. The white team got absolutely blown out in this one even though I really liked them on paper. It ended up being a boring game after a lightning quick first half. I sat near some folks who read the board (thanks for reading) and listened to stories from the good old days. It was far more interesting than the basketball being played. The white team flew the white flag and ended the game 30 seconds early.

TJ was easily the best player on his team. He scored at will in the early going 3 for 3 including a 3 in the first 7 minutes. He then remembered what he learned in Kindergarten and decided to share with his teammates. He only took 4 shots the rest of the game. He had 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals to go along with only one turnover. The city's basketball community is keyed in on TJ and he really is a star in the making. People didn't stay to watch Ashton Gibbs or Lamar Patterson (who was sick). They stayed for TJ. He finished with 11, but had he been the same kind of ball hog as some of his teammates (*cough Deandre Kane *cough), he'd have scored 30.

Talley made some great moves but couldn't finish, plain and simple. He went 1 for 10 after finding the ball for an easy lay up on the opening tip. He was very strong with the ball and I didn't notice a single turnover. He had 3 assists and found 4 rebounds. He finished with 6.

Derrick Martin was a tough read tonight. He was tested by one of the better veteran big men in the league and my own personal summer league hero, Kyle Goldcamp of Gannon and the D League. Martin matched up pretty solidly against him defensively. On one sequence, he altered Goldcamp's initial shot and his follow up causing him to miss both. Martin is an impressive shot blocker. He had 5 tonight possibly 6. I credited another player in the vicinity for one, but I could've been wrong. At the close of the first half he had more blocks than rebounds. He passed the ball well with  2 assists and without a turnover. While Martin held his own defensively against Goldcamp, he couldn't do much offensively in the post. He didn't take a single shot from the paint and Goldcamp did a nice job forcing him to the outside. Thankfully, Martin has a jumper and is not afraid to use it. He made his first basket on an ugly bank shot and hit a nice one from the baseline in the second half. Some of his other shots were pretty far off target, but overall, he went 2 of 6 and I'm excited to see more of him.

Jerry Jones was the surprise of the night. He played a great second half and finished the game with 8 point on 4 of 7 shooting. Jones made his living cutting down the lane off the ball to create shots for himself. He got a lot of "oooo's" and "awwww's" from the crowds on a couple of baskets including an absolute circus shot of a reverse lay up. He was the guy in the 3rd game whose name people were asking for. He may have had the assist of the night on a sweet bounce pass to I believe Patterson sneaking in the back door. Jones also had three boards.

Keep in mind that all of my scoring and stats are unofficial. If I made any mistakes I will own up to it.