THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT 2019
#1 Golden Eagles vs #1 Team Hines
And so, after a rough start and a lot of time spent battling back from it against Jackson TN Underdawgs on Thursday, your favorite Marquette Golden Eagles alumni basketball team finds themselves in the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament for the second straight year. Even better news: Overseas Elite, the then-three time champions and now-four time champions of TBT are not waiting in the next round.
Can we safely say at this point that Golden Eagles is a TBT power? Or a TBT blue blood? In an event where nearly anything can happen, the Marquette alumni squad has appeared in the quarterfinals every year and has tacked on back-to-back semifinals appearances. Sure, outside of the $96,000 that they picked up for winning the Wichita region this year, it means absolutely nothing because it’s a winner-take-all prize. Still, it has to be nice for TBT’s brain trust to know that they have a reliable piece to count on year in and year out.
The combination of Jamil Wilson, Dwight Buycks, and Elgin Cook is a wildly impressive core for Golden Eagles head coach Joe Chapman to rely on this year. Mix in a little bit of Andrew Rowsey, the load-managed Travis Diener, and solid contributions from Maurice Acker and Derrick Wilson, and you have a dangerous team. That’s been the case all tournament long so far, even with Jamil missing the first two games due to previous commitments.
On Sunday, the team looks to advance one step closer to that $2 million. Standing in their way: Team Hines.
Here’s the full rundown on the official listed Team Hines roster:
holy crap that’s a lot of dudes
There’s 15 guys listed there, but only 11 played in their 88-75 quarterfinal victory over Team Brotherly Love, and only nine played more than five minutes. Darius Adams was their leading scorer with 19 points, while Kyle Hines (18 points) and Matt Lojeski (14 points) both cracked double digits. For me, Nick Calathes was the biggest name jumping off the page, but he has Greek national team duties awaiting him, so he is no longer with Team Hines. Still, if they’re going to go nine deep, that’s pretty good.
ESPN said that Mike James was the fifth best player left standing in TBT heading into the quarterfinals thanks to his play in the tournament as well as his rise to 36 games of NBA experience after signing a two-way contract. He was just 2-for-15 against Brotherly Love in the quarterfinals, but he came into that game averaging 21.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. Team namesake Kyle Hines is the next most dangerous player, it seems, averaging nearly a double-double. Expect the two-time EuroLeague Best Defender to be all over the court to try and shut down whatever Golden Eagle is on a heater at the moment.
We can’t ignore the guy patrolling the sidelines either. How many TBT teams have a current Division 1 head coach who has a Final Four MOP trophy on the mantle at home? It’s gotta be only 1, and that’s Team Hines and head coach Juan Dixon. He won the NCAA tourney in 2002 with Maryland, and he’s currently running the show at Coppin State.
Team Hines was the #1 seed in the Greensboro region for a reason, but they’ve yet to win a game easily. They had a pair of nine point wins in the first two rounds and had to rally after trailing at the end of the first quarter in both of those. The regional final had them trailing at the half by eight to #2 seed Team CP3, eventually only winning by five. Their largest margin of victory was 13 points in the quarterfinals, and even then it was tied at the end of the first quarter, and still in single digits for a little bit early in the fourth quarter. I want to say that the Marquette guys should be able to jump on Team Hines early to establish a lead and control of the thing, but these guys have been able to bounce back time and time again. They’re not going to go away quietly, and Golden Eagles won’t be able to lay back if they want to get to Tuesday’s TBT title game.
Oh, and remember when I said thank goodness that Overseas Elite isn’t waiting for the Marquette team in the semifinals again? Yeah, well, they’re in the other semifinal game, which tips off at 11am Central. OE gets a crack at Carmen’s Crew, the Ohio State alumni team, and the winner of that one gets the winner of Golden Eagles/Team Hines at Wintrust Arena for the $2 million prize.