Five Takeaways from the NYC National Tournament Registration Day
Registration opened for the New York National Tournament last Friday, and it took less than eight minutes for our field of 10 to be decided. There is something interesting to be taken away from each team that signed up. Here are the five storylines that stuck out the most to me after seeing the tournament sell out.
The DMV Ballers are back to defend their crown
The DMV Ballers missed their chance to play in Vegas this year, where they could’ve improved on their 1-2 record from the 2018 tournament. The defending champs weren’t going to miss their chance to defend their crown at SKY in August, however.
Captain Al Kamara was one of the first captains to get his team signed up, and he is confident that he’ll have the same 10 players that won last year’s tournament. From Vegas in 2018 into New York, the DMV Ballers added Byron Mouton and Brandon Allen, which significantly elevated the talent of the team. If those two are back with the rest of 2018’s squad, the Ballers will have a decent shot at back-to-back titles. I would say they are the favorites to win the tournament, but that changed when…
X Over becomes Arizona’s first representative in New York
The 2019 Las Vegas National Champions are headed to NYC in August, becoming the first team from Arizona to play in the New York National Tournament. No team has ever won both tournaments, and to expand on that, no state has won both tournaments. X Over has a chance to do that, and if they bring the same team from Vegas this year, they will be heavy favorites to do so.
X Over thrived in an underdog role against Ball So Hard, but now they have to deal with a championship-or-bust mentality. Can they overcome traveling 2,410 miles and three time zones to complete the most impressive summer for a team in UH history?
Atlanta has split into two teams
Atlanta made its NYC debut last summer, with LA KIXX going 1-3 in their four games. They struggled early, losing both of their pool play games. They responded with a win over $Ball in an elimination game, and narrowly lost 56-55 to the eventual champions in the quarterfinals. It was the type of run that can be improved upon after getting the first experience of a tournament out of the way, and possibly adding a player or two to strengthen the team.
Atlanta may have overcompensated by putting two teams into the running this year. Greg Little is bringing back LA KIXX, but Darrick Wilkins has branched off and created his own team, LTC Tree (pun all the way intended with the phrasing of “branched off”). Does Atlanta have enough talent to bring two teams and expect to compete?
Who will be representing Syosset?
After two Syosset teams played in the championship game in the inaugural tournament in 2017, Syosset decided to combine teams last year into one super team. That team was combined of the best players off the Thundercats and RTG from 2017, but the additional talent of last year’s tournament was too much, as they lost in the semifinals to the DMV Ballers.
They ran as the Thundercats last year, with Chris Frey as the team captain. This year RTG is back as the only Syosset team, with Ken Koerner as the team captain. Will we see the same roster as last year with a new captain, or is there a roster shake-up in the works?
Minnesota sits out for the first time
This will be the first time in the three-year history of the NYC tournament where Minnesota will not be represented. To expand on that, this will be the first National Tournament in UH history to not have at least one team from Minnesota. This comes just one year after two teams from Minnesota made it to the semifinals, with the Bulls making it to the championship, where they fell to the DMV Ballers in an overtime-thriller.
This year was also the second straight year where Minnesota only had one team represented in Las Vegas. It’s safe to say Minnesota’s run as a consistent contender at the national level is over. Will we ever see a national champion from the mecca of Ultimate Hoops again?