Maui Invitational: Day 3 Report
By Aran Smith
In the final, North Carolina proved to be too much for a legitimate top 10 team in Notre Dame soundly beating the South Benders 102-87.
The Irish were not at full strength with their star Luke Harangody sick, although the Heels aren't at full strength either missing their defensive stopper in Marcus Ginyard (until early Jan.), and Tyler Zeller out for the year, not to mention their leader Psycho T still getting back into playing shape after the shin injury slowed his start to the season.
It's safe to say he's rounding into shape as the Lahaina Civic Center was Tyler's house on Wednesday, the UNC senior superstar went for 34 points on 13-19 shooting. Tyler Hansbrough was especially effective knocking down mid-range jumpers but showed an added wrinkle to his game, the outside shot, something he worked hard at during the off-season (150 3's per day) .
Hansbrough's added range certainly gives him a boost, as consistently knocking down 18-20 foot j's is without question a valuable asset at the next level.
Luke Harangody was apparently sick all day and it seemed to affect his performance. He was well below his average with 13 and 7 and the length and athleticism of UNC's bigmen seemed to affect him. Although even in an off-game some of the plays Harangody made were impressive. He shows an amazing will and hustle and his feel for the game helps him to outfox better athletes.
The Irish's shooter Kyle McAlarney put on an unbelievable 3 point shooting display, particularly in the second half to keep things interesting. Despite his incredible shooting ability, its hard to imagine him making an NBA club due to his lack of size and athletic ability to defend or create shots.
Ty Lawson had a field day with 22 points and 11 assists using his speed to get by Tory Jackson and McAlarny and to the basket. He had a number of transition baskets and does a terrific job of taking advantage of guards with inferior quickness. He was solid all three days and broke out in the final. His quickness is certainly a weapon and if he can show better decision making in the half court set, there's no reason he won't be a first rounder, particularly if UNC wins it all.
Fatigue definitely is setting in as even at the beginning of games, players legs look noticeably slower and more tired than normal. The change of climate (warmer) and travel has had it's affect on the teams.
In the 5th place game, Alabama proved too much for St. Joes. Alonzo Gee has been solid but finally broke out with a team high 19 points on 8-14 shooting. His strength and athleticism proved too difficult for the smaller St. Joes wings as he helped Bama to the 10 point victory.
In the third place game, Texas was too much for Oregon as forward Damion James had his entire game working stroking shots from outside as well as getting out on the break using his standout speed and athleticism to convert ally oops and put back dunks. His potential is obvious as he poured in 21 points (9-11 fg) and 12 boards.
Texas other top forward prospect Connor Atchley apparently left his game on the beach as he went scoreless on 0-5 shooting. Unfortunately he wasn't being double teamed on every possession the way Stephen Curry had the day before.
Texas' under-publicized Justin Mason appears to be their top guard prospect. Although he doesn't have one NBA skill that stands out like AJ Abrams shooting, his combination of athleticism and smarts could let him overcome his lack of a true position and size deficiencies. He had the dunk of the tournament going up up and away over Luke Harangody for a one handed jam on day 2. He was extremely consistent throughout the event going for 18 5 and 5 on the final day.
Chaminade came a last second three attempt from a major upset of Indiana. Had the shot gone, it would have been a major win for the Chaminade program regardless of the fact that this is about as low as Indiana can get after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco.