Wednesday, January 21, 2015

31-0 - The Reign of Terror Continues at the Basketball Hall of Fame Hoop Hall Classic




"Terror Squad" 2015 Hoop Hall Classic Champions

Even before the competition brought their teams to Springfield, Massachusetts to face the daunting challenge of beating the undefeated and top-ranked “Terror Squad” this past weekend, many have called the collection of youth talent "perhaps as good as there ever has been at the 7th grade level."
The “Terror Squad” set about trying to prove the pundits right, there scorecard on the weekend included incredulous win totals of 85-40, 83-18, 90-21, and 63-31.  They forced turnovers, blocked shots, set the nets on fire with marksmanship from beyond the arch and vandalized the rim at the 2020 level with dunks and alley-ops.

"What makes them the best team in the country is that our guys can have off nights but due to their talent level and big stage experience - their margin for error is quite substantial. I'd like to think that as long as well play hard and as a team that the weapons will be tough to overcome.  It’s one of those situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” said Coach Francis whose talented bunched moved to a jaw-dropping 31-0 at the conclusion of the tournament.


While the team showed up missing a few of their key pieces in 6’7 Isaiah Todd and guard Zion Harmon the opportunity for extended minutes from the nation’s best collection of talent still produced results on a high level.

Jordan Toles, who was named championship game MVP put up scoring number, boarded, and even threw down his first in game alley-oop to add to his Human Highlight Film reel - this doesn't include an array of dunks which came in between some great perimeter shooting - which is improving each time we see him.  His continued development with push and pull basketball and as a facilitator ads a dimension to his game which make him almost impossible to stop.  He is learning to make his teammates better while still maintaining his own production which remains on the elite level but shines even brighter when you get to see the control and different speeds in which he attacks.  

Cameron Byers simply continues to improve not just with each game; it seems at times as if he is learning and growing possession by possession.  A dominant force on both boards and on the block he continues to finish with high level proficiency having added a very tough face up game to his arsenal.  This type of post presence has allowed him to carry the load for long periods and he is an essential part to the team’s success.  The short corner jumper, ability to push the ball in transition as well as catch in space clearly indicates that Byers can be stretched out making him even more attractive as a prospect.  He powered past the weak, went around the strong, and when they back off without knowing what to do the soft touch tickled the twine and he did it every way it could be done during the course of the weekend.

AJ Hoggard battled through illness on Sunday; but Hoggard at 80% may be better than most guards in the country at full health.  What didn’t he do over the course of the weekend?  A three level scorer knocked down the perimeter shot in every way imaginable and from distances that forced you to guard him wherever he went on the floor.  That only added to the problem as AJ’s IQ took over allowing his to make the reads that lead either to him or his teammates scoring.  In the paint his size to finish couldn’t be match and it will be a challenge for anyone moving forward.  With a few huge scoring outburst he balance it by adding two double-double games diming out assist like they were popcorn.  

Montez McNeil the baby bigman of the group continues to grow up acting as a man-child on the glass and an intimidator in the paint.  McNeil contest every single venture into the paint changing shots he didn’t get his hands on.  What is taking his game to the next level is the development of an elite level post game.  A true back to the basket big he does it all – up and under, drop steps, turn around’s with both left and right hand finishes.  McNeil put together one of the most memorable and impressive games of the season at any level going 10-10 from the field and 3-3- from the free-throw line for 23 points while tallying 13 rebounds.

Tyler Brelsford continued to set the table and feed the hungry “Terror Squad” mouths that require buffet style servings.  Four games with double figure assists exemplify the existence of the quintessential QB.  The ultimate court spacing resource Brelsford compliments his “dishes” was a nice side of scoring – utilizing the three point stripe to make defenses pay for help, double downs, playing off.  The driving and passing lanes are less crowded because of the necessity to respect Brelsford.  Slowly but surely strength is being added allowing him to finish in the paint through contact but smart enough and skilled enough to find success in the mid-range.  Exhibited a very complete package throughout the weekend.

Ryan Conway; knock knock…whose there?  Conway – Conway who?  Conway from far away.  Continued to knocked down the perimeter shot from all over the gym and played with a motor that any coach/player would respect on any level.  The beauty in this kids game is that he has two elements that every team needs and wants.  A shooter and someone who plays hard all the time – when you add effectiveness as finisher in transition and a steady improvement as a passer and ball-handler it is clear to see the future is very bright.  Defends both on and off the ball playing the passing lanes like a cornerback you can see the growth and seasoning that is being deposited into the growth cycle.  A proven scorer who doesn’t need a lot of looks to be effective as evidence by his double figure scoring using less than 10 shots per contest.  Capable of outburst at any time he is a secret weapon of mass destruction.

Jeremy Roach, a situation of the rich getting richer here with the addition of Roach whose national profile requires no introduction. The do it all combo guard was a 5-category contributor throughout the event.  Loved his ability to slash into the lane and the silky smooth finishes made it seem like he’s been here before as he decimated defenses all tourney long – still adjusting to the wide-open controlled chaos style of the “Terror Squad” he is natural 3-level scorer who is arguable one of the best shooter/scorers in the class.  Far from one dimensional Roach passed well, played excellent on the ball and off the ball defense, rebounded, and even block some shots – an underrated athlete Roach will get in the paint and bang and mix it up with any player in front of him.   


Team Izod again stepped into the fray against the “Terror Squad” this time on the Hall of Fame floor.  Confident and taking note of the missing pieces Sports U kept it close early going into the half tied and 22-22.  In the second there were stretches where the multiple switching defenses of the ‘Terror Squad” confused the black and red – and the relentless paint pounding of Toles, Hoggard, and Byers wore down the Izod down as both their big played with foul trouble throughout.  On the defensive end the “Terror Squad” refused access to the painted area and ran the shooter off the line into help in one of their best team defensive efforts of the season.  A totally frustrated Izod group couldn’t find any answers down the stretch as the ‘Terror Squad” pulled away at the midway point coasting to a 48-39 victory. Sport U compete hard, but the separation on the court and off was apparent when you are talking about the #1 team in the land.


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