NYC National Tournament Team Preview: Can the DMV Ballers go back-to-back?
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. The final two team previews before this weekend’s tournament are saved for the two regions that have won the tournament in the past. I saved the best for last, as today I’ll take a look at the defending champions, the DMV Ballers.
Al Kamara (Captain)
The DMV Ballers return with an almost identical roster from the one they won a championship with last year. The only player on their roster from last year’s championship run that won’t be making the trip is Tim Harwood. They’re adding Dante Seralie, which has been known for a while, and Marvin Jackson, which was a new add that was made this week. They came in as a tier one team in this tournament, and now that X Over won’t have Tevin Kelly, they are about even with the Vegas champions.
Player to Watch
The last time Mouton played in an Ultimate Hoops game was in last year’s 72-68 double-overtime thriller to win the 2018 title. He completely dominated that game, scoring a game-high 26 points and proving that he was by far the best player in the tournament. Saturday afternoon will mark his first UH game in a year, and it’ll be a highly-anticipated return for the Tournament MVP.
Last year he put up 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds, shooting 45% from the field and 41% from deep, on his way to a title and being named the MVP. Some of the better teams in the tournament have talented big men that will give Mouton a challenge, but I still don’t think there’s anyone in this tournament that can consistently keep Mouton from scoring. If he wants to get a bucket, he’ll be able to get a bucket.
We saw this in last year’s title game, where Mouton scored 13 straight points for DMV Ballers to end the game and start the first overtime. Every possession he would post up and either get a bucket or get fouled. Defenders tried to deny entry passes, but he would be able to wiggle free and get the ball. Help defenders would collide with him in the air, but he was still able to score. You can foul him and hope for the best, but he’s an 83% career free-throw shooter. Double him, and he’ll find an open teammate, and with how deep DMV Ballers are, you likely won’t want to leave anyone open.
The overall success of the DMV Ballers in this tournament will be decided by many factors, but it’ll start with how well Mouton plays. If he’s up to par with last year, they’ll likely be back contending for another title.
Marshall is not the type of x factor that can swing a game because he’s got a chance to go off for 30. His career average in UH is 13 points per game, but that’s not what he’s here to do. He averaged 1.8 points per game in last year’s tournament and was one of DMV Ballers’ best players.
He’s an absolute nightmare to deal with on the glass and on defense. He’s the UH version of Dennis Rodman, minus the insanity. Personality-wise, he’s almost the opposite, barely talking on the floor. But his play style is almost identical. He’s listed at 6’3”, but his wingspan makes him look 6’9”. He’s quick on his feet and can guard the perimeter, and he can use his length and athleticism to guard players bigger than him as well. There’s not a player on the floor that he isn’t able to guard, and that’s an extremely valuable asset to have.
He’s also a beat on the boards, averaging 14.6 per game in his UH career. That went down to 6.8 in last year’s tournament, but he did that in 18.8 minutes per game. His per 36 minutes average brings him to over 12 a game, so his production on the glass didn’t decrease that much. The most valuable part of that skill is his tenacity on the offensive glass. He averages 6 a game in his UH career, which is absurd, and 2.8 in last year’s tournament.
Trying to repeat
DMV took a lot of people by surprise when they won the title last year. They had an intriguing roster on paper, but there were some unknown names, and I didn’t think they would be able to handle the added talent to the tournament. Now they’re the defending champs, and they have a massive target on their backs. They’ll get everyone’s best effort no matter who they play, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle that pressure.
X Over was the first team preview I did, and I predicted them to win it all. Now without Kelly, this becomes a toss-up. I’ll stick with my original prediction and have DMV finish second, but I won’t be surprised at all if they go back-to-back.