NYC National Tournament Team Preview: Will X Over complete a National Tournament sweep in New York?
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. Instead of starting with the defending champions, DMV Ballers, I’m letting recency bias take over and going with the defending champions of the most recent tournament, the 2019 Las Vegas National Tournament.
Chris Fisher (captain)
The only missing piece from the championship squad in Vegas is Dashawn Hill, who played in each pool play game, but didn’t play at all during the knockout games on Sunday. As long as all 10 players show up to New York, they’ll walk into the tournament as heavy favorites.
Player to Watch
Tevin Kelly and Travis Gabbidon
I’ll usually spotlight one player in this category, but it’s impossible to pick between the two stars that lead X Over. They were both up for Tournament MVP in Vegas, with Kelly narrowly winning, mostly due to hitting the dagger that slayed Ball So Hard.
We’ll start with the MVP. Kelly put up a ridiculous stat line in six games in Vegas: 21.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists while shooting 54% from the field and 41% from deep. Not only was he consistently good throughout the tournament, he’s shown that he excels in big moments. Here are some of his stats in significant games.
Semifinal against Ball So Hard: 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists on 5-11 shooting from the field and 2-4 from deep.
Championship game against Never Off Work: 22 points, five rebounds, five assists on 6-12 shooting from the field and 3-4 from deep.
Fall 2018 Tempe Open championship against Fine Wine (Ball So Hard lite): 31 points, six rebounds, six assists on 10-16 shooting from the field and 5-8 from deep.
So yeah, Kelly likes the big stage. There won’t be a guard in this tournament that will be able to guard him one-on-one, as his combination of range, quickness and finishing ability make him a nightmare for opposing defenders. I expect him to cook throughout this tournament.
Kelly alone gives any team a chance to win, so having Gabbidon on his team feels like a cheat code. They both possess the rarest skill in basketball; the ability to create their own shot, and they can do it at an elite level. There are plenty of dangerous options on this X Over team, but when they get in trouble, they can get the ball into either of these guys and one of them will end up with a good look
Here was Gabbidon’s stat line in Vegas: 22.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists on 42% shooting from the field and 33% from deep.
I mentioned Kelly’s great performance in the 2018 Fall Open championship against Fine Wine, but it was really Gabbidon’s show. He scored 24 points in 17 minutes, but unfortunately had to exit the game with a broken foot. He still wasn’t 100% in May in Vegas, but he looked fine, scoring an average of 28.7 points per game in the three knockout games X Over played on Sunday.
It was clear that Gabbidon was not in full game shape yet. This was made obvious when he started cramping in the second half of the championship game against Never Off Work and started eating mustard packets to try and stop them. He still scored 27 points in the game, including a perfect 12-12 from the free-throw line, so he had enough legs to have a major impact. We now get to see him with three more months of recovery. It’ll be extremely fun for me and the rest of UH Nation to watch, but it’ll be terrifying for opposing defenses.
Every player on this team serves a specific purpose and fits into a role that they each embrace. Delonn Stevenson’s biggest asset is his grit and hard-nosed play; Dewayne Pettus uses his elite athleticism to run the floor and get easy buckets in transition; Lavione West’s length and versatility make him a valuable defender that can guard big men and wings.
Dudley is a volume scorer that can get hot at any time. We’ve seen him be the best player on National Tournament teams before, averaging over 20 points in 2012 and 2016 in Vegas. He’s now found more success at a team level by being a third option and scoring more as a spot-up shooter.
While I wouldn’t compare his game to Ray Allen’s, his career on a national level resembles Allen’s in the NBA. He spent a long time as one of the better players in the tournament, able to score in multiple ways and create his shot with ease. Now he has better scorers on his team and gets to reap the benefits of defenses occasionally forgetting about him.
He attempted 69 shots in six games in Vegas, with 47 of them coming from beyond the arc. There aren’t many possessions where you’ll see Dudley go iso and try to get a bucket, but he still has the ability to go off and completely change a game. There’s no better example of that than the championship game in Vegas this year, where he scored 21 points on 8-15 shooting from the field and 4-7 from deep. Defenses will have to focus in on Kelly and Gabbidon, and that’s when Dudley will make them pay for it.
No team from Arizona has ever been to the New York National Tournament. I’d imagine that’s because Phoenix and New York City are over 2,400 miles, three time zones and about a five-hour, 45-minute flight away from each other. We’ll see how X Over are able to handle the adjustment.
The only thing I could see derailing this X Over team is a lack of concentration/motivation. They were the underdogs in Vegas, with everyone (myself included) giving them little to no chance to beat fellow Tempe foe Ball So Hard. They don’t have a Goliath to battle in this tournament, let alone a league rival to take down on a national level. Will they be able to handle the pressure of being a favorite?