4/17/2012 10:16 PM
NATIONAL TOURNEY PREVIEW: Meet DOWNTOWN- the pride of Colorado Springs
Viva Las Vegas!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ultimate Hoops-Colorado Springs is proud to introduce the world to the 2-Time Defending Champions (drum role, please)...DOWNTOWN who will be representing Colorado in the National Invitational Tournament next month in Las Vegas.
FROM THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
Contributed by Joe Neuenfeldt
We are very excited to have representation from Colorado Springs for the National Tournament in Vegas. Colorado Springs is a relatively new market to Ultimate Hoops. But Downtown has two championships in just that short period of time.
Excellent introduction video put together by Jasmin Williams, who continues his impressive contributions to Ultimate Hoops as a player and journalist. And based on the video footage combined with the team history, Downtown is going to go as far in the National Tournament as Jazz and Brian Smith take them.
For those that do not know, the National Tournament format is going to be pool play on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Each team will play three games within their pool. Then on Sunday, the top eight teams (based on their Saturday record) will play a single elimination tournament to determine the winner.
It is important to have all of the teams (12 currently) ranked as appropriately as possible beforehand so they are placed in the correct pool. You don’t want the four best teams beating up on each other on Saturday with only two of them advancing to Sunday. This is where I come into the picture.
But how do you rank 12 teams from seven different markets (Las Vegas, Minnesota, Chicago, Phoenix, Columbia, Detroit and Colorado Springs)? What factors should be considered? How do you pick a #1 overall seed when more than ¾ of the players in this tournament have won an Ultimate Hoops title?
I have used several factors when it comes to ranking the tournament teams. And although everyone will have to officially wait until May 4, 2012 to find out the tournament seeds and pools, here are the categories I have considered:
TALENT – In general (but not always), a team with the most talent will prevail. At the least, they will have an advantage going into the game. Downtown appears to be middle of the pack of the tournament teams when it comes to raw athleticism.
TITLES – Most of the Downtown players only know gold in their short UH careers. And the best part of their title wins is that the big two (Williams and Smith) seem to be at their best when everything is on the line.
MOMENTUM – I am a believer that timing can sometimes be everything and that teams used to winning have an advantage over teams that may have talent but are failing to get wins as a result. Downtown started the spring season with a loss after winning the winter title. But got back on track in week 2. With the National Tournament just two weeks away, I will be looking very closely at how they fare in their three games leading up to the tournament.
LEVEL OF COMPETITION – This is a tough category for Downtown because they cannot help that there are only six teams in their market this season (9 and 8 in their title seasons). But it has to be a consideration when you have some teams (Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota) that have to get through a number of playoff rounds just to have a shot at gold.
EXPERIENCE – Some of the players in this tournament have big time experience in and out of Ultimate Hoops. Williams has professional experience and several of the Downtown players played in college. I can’t imagine that nerves will come into play during the tournament.
DEPTH – Having experienced two of these weekend long tournaments already, I will tell you that seven players is not enough for a squad. I know Downtown is working on an eighth player. But even then, fatigue is going to be a factor. And we have seen in the past that it can play a major role in determining the tournament winner.
Overall, I like what I see out of this Downtown squad. The fact that most of them chose Michael Jordan as their favorite player tells me two things. One, these guys are probably close to my age (in their thirties). And two, they know good basketball. I cannot reveal what seed this team is looking at for the tournament. But they definitely have some factors working in their favor.
Being that I am one who likes to make bold predictions (that sometimes are right and sometimes miss terribly), my bold prediction relating to Downtown and the National Tournament is this:
Jazz Williams will be a top 5 candidate for National Tournament MVP. You heard it here first.