David Cloninger

All things Gamecocks, especially basketball and football

S.C. Pro Am observations, Aug. 3: Championship set

08/03/2013 10:04 PM

08/23/2013 2:35 PM

The S.C. Pro Am semifinals were held on Saturday at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School. After missing the quarterfinals (that football practice do take a bite on your boy’s time, see), I squeezed in two quick games before Saturday’s football practice.

The championship is set. It will be Chick-fil-A (Marcus Stroman) vs. Honda of Columbia (Brenton Williams) at 3 p.m. on Sunday for all the marbles. As always, admission is free.

Marcus Stroman: 1-of-9 (0-of-3 3), 5 pts, 9 reb, 10 ast
Jaylen Shaw: 7-of-18 (3-of-10 3), 19 pts, 11 reb, 10 ast
Stroman finished a rebound short of a triple-double the last time I saw him play. Perhaps Shaw knew that (vastly overestimating my self-importance) and made sure he got his 10th assist with about three minutes to go on Saturday for his own triple-double, but Stroman’s team got the win.

In control with a seven-point lead, Shaw took a quick breather. Stroman’s team immediately ran off eight points and held on for the victory. Stroman didn’t score much, but he had 10 assists of his own and his teammates finally started converting when he would swing those wraparound arms to avoid a post defender. He was passing up his own shots despite his teammates suffering from brick-itis, but they finally put it together.

Shaw played a marvelous game, looking around for the open man but also unafraid to take the shot. He threw up a few too many 3s, but there was nobody else converting, so he had to. He could also find some way to get in the lane, elevate and lift the shot at the last second for a teardrop deuce.

There was one future-meet-present moment. Early in the game, Stroman charged into the lane, lifting a pass for a baseline-running teammate and an alley-oop jam. Shaw rose with the defender, plucked the pass from mid-air and immediately fed the break.

Brenton Williams: 10-of-17 (3-of-7 3), 26 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast
Michael Carrera: 13-of-30 (3-of-13 3), 36 pts, 12 reb, 2 stl
With a three-point lead and a minute to go, Carrera missed a 3 that turned into a game-tying three-point play on the other end. Now, someone would have had to shoot in a normal game, but in the Pro Am, there’s no shot clock. He could have tried to play keep-away until the other team was forced to foul. Eric Washington ran clock until driving the lane with 5.8 seconds to go, and calmly aced both free throws for a two-point lead, but then Williams was fouled going to the basket with 0.5 seconds to play, and forced overtime.

Williams stroked a 3-pointer to force overtime with 1.0 seconds to play. Once the man gets hot, there’s nobody else who needs the ball in his hands.

Williams was Williams. He had a lot of help, so Williams didn’t have to try any of those long-range 3s he’s been known to shoot. He took over when he had to and made some shots – his lack of assists is because he was playing at his best spot, the two, while another player ran point.

Carrera has been trying to add to his offensive arsenal over the summer, most notably with the 3-point shot. I can see where it would be a valuable weapon – Carrera, with a known 3-point fluidity, could be a very big matchup problem.

He’s going to have to get more consistent to present that option, though. I’m not sure Frank Martin wants to see his down-and-dirty inside presence standing on the wing and jacking up 3s, especially if he only hits 23 percent.

Carrera’s best attributes are his passion and his energy, which leads to his relentless rebounding. That’s part of the problem trying to work him into the offensive plan – it’s really hard to plan on a put-back, which was his best and the team’s most consistent option last season. He’s trying to work out of that with more of an outside game, but he may be better served by flashing from the wing to a corner of the lane, demanding the ball and trying to go up-and-in before the defense collapses on him.

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