There's been some discussion lately about the merits of the Milwaukee Summer Pro-Am around these parts. People say that it's just glorified pick-up games with no defense, no rebounding, no structure, etc. Because of all this there really isn't much that can truly be learned from the performances that players put up in this "league" (for lack of a better word). Well tonight I decided to finally check this thing out for myself. And what I learned is that the vast majority of those criticisms are 100% true. But I also learned that it's frickin' July and there is some fairly entertaining basketball being played a mile from my house.
So jonesing for a mid-summer hoops fix like Jack Black in Tropic Thunder, I called up my boy Soft Pretzel and headed over to Greenfield High School to take in some of the action. While we were there we, naturally, made a point to catch as many of the Marquette Golden Eagles that were in action as we could. We missed the first game, so we weren't able to see Davante Gardner and Derrick Wilson play. But we did catch Juan Anderson, Junior Cadougan, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson, Dwight Buycks and Trend Blackledge. And despite all that stuff I said about not really being able to learn anything from the Pro-Am games, I still tried to learn something about our guys from their performances. Don't judge me.
After the jump: Mr. K contradicts himself
So here are my half-baked thoughts on tonight's action:
- Junior Cadougan = Floor General. Even in this loosely constructed environment, you can see the wheels turning for Junior. While everyone else was looking for their own shot, Junior looked to set up his mates. He threw several nice alley-oops to Otule and Trend - including one where you weren't even sure who the hell he was throwing it to until Trend came out of nowhere, caught it and slammed it. He only hoisted a few jumpers, and I don't know that he hit any of them. He got his points on some nifty finishes around the rack, but he made his impact on the game with the pass. I am very excited to see how he progresses in this coming season.
- Juan Anderson is taller than I thought he was going to be. And he is long too. I read that he had something like 34 points and 16 boards, as his "Baird" team came back to beat Dwight Buycks and the "AthletiCo" team in overtime. I thought he showed some creativity around the hoop. If one of his teammate's shots hadn't gone in, he would've had the highlight of the night. He had floated to the rim while the shot was in the air and had a monster tip dunk measured. But the shot went down and he never got the opportunity. Pretzel and I both saw it though, and simultaneously wished that he had gotten the chance to throw that one down. Based on his frame alone, I'm very intrigued by what he can bring this year. Especially when paired with Jamil Wilson on the wing.
- Speaking of Jamil... We saw him play for a bit, but I can't say there's much to report. He was on a team with Jerry Smith and Quemont Greer and I think the two of them took all but about 5 of the shots that their team hoisted. For at least the half of the game that I saw, Wilson and the rest of his mates were relegated to spectators.
- Trend Blackledge can still get up... In case anyone was wondering. He had a the play of the night. Late in the game between the 1st and 2nd place teams, Trend came from clear across the court to reject a lay-up that would've cut the lead to 1. He had to go so far that no one thought he could actually get there. But get there he did, and he emphatically sent that would-be lay up into the first row.
- You have to love Wesley Matthews. He was the only NBA player slated to participate in this year's Pro-Am. But an ankle injury and the associated rehab have kept him from playing in the games. Now I don't know what most 24-year old NBA millionaires do with their summer Friday nights, but I suspect "coaching" a glorified pick-up game in Milwaukee isn't high on their list. Yet that's exactly where Wes was. He was coaching up his boys, calling sets for them from the bench, and near the end actually had his jersey on like he was coming in (we think he just wanted to sub himself to shoot free throws for Otule).
- Speaking of Otule: He knocked down 1 of 2 throws to ice the game for his squad. Aside from that it's hard to assess his performance. He looks near dominant at times, but it's hard to put too much stock in that when he's got about 4 inches on the next tallest person in the building.
- We went to catch the IWB Sports team, which usually features Vander Blue and Jamail Jones. But apparently those two had the night off, so there's nothing to report there.
- This whole event is really fun. The only thing you hope is that no one gets hurt playing in it. Unfortunately, the one bad thing that I know that I learned tonight is that Junior Cadougan is dinged. He was playing with one wrist taped (I don't recall which one). Late in their game he dove for a loose ball (That's right, diving for a loose ball in the Pro-Am, you gotta love that kid) and he was slow to get up. When he did he was holding that taped wrist and looked to be in some discomfort. He stayed in the game (they only had 5 players), but you could see him holding and flexing that wrist the rest of the way. I'm sure it's nothing too serious, or the team would not be letting him play out there. But I think that, for safety's sake, Junior gets the day off tomorrow.
So that's all I've got kids. I tried really hard to get too worked up about anything I saw tonight. But when it's late July and college basketball season is still 3 months away, it was nice to get just a little taste. If you want to get your fix, the Milwaukee Summer Pro-Am continues with games Saturday July 30th and Friday August 5th at Greenfield HS and then Sunday August 7th at the Al McGuire Center. For the full schedule, rosters and all that good stuff check out http://www.milwaukeeproam.com/Home_Page.html.