July Basketball, Vegas Style: Day 2

It didn’t take long to figure out what Craig Murray was talking about when he said the reason he brings Total Package to the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas and to next week’s LA Pump Best of Summer Championships is to experience the highest levels of high school basketball.

With about 45 college coaches — including Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun looking on — the high-flying Virginians prevailed 64-49 in Thursday’s pool play game at Liberty High in Henderson, Nev.

Petersburg Elite, with rising star Justin Coleman — a 6-foot-5 player who has come out of nowhere this summer to be ranked the No. 7 small forward and No. 42 overall player in the country in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com — put on a clinic out of the gate. They raced to a 16-2 lead, dropping 3-pointers and swatting shots while making it look like a game between men and boys.

But Total Package recovered, going on a 13-2 run of its own to get back in it. Despite not shooting it well (defensive intimidation was a factor) from the field or the foul line, Total Package trailed just 32-24 at halftime (they play 15-minute halves with a 2-minute break).

Petersburg controlled the second half, but Total Package stayed within 10 for the most part. Murray said it might have been a different game big man Austin Jenkins (he arrives today after finishing football camp) had been there.

Still, hard-nosed Ryan Rogers of Auburn-Riverside kept TP close. Point guard Chris Repar did a nice job handling and distributing the ball. Bainbridge’s Will Diiorio made some nice passes and had his moments, but had trouble getting his shot off inside against the taller, more athletic opponents.

For Diiorio, who has heard from Pepperdine, Portland, Portland State, Seattle U and and other players who haven’t signed or been offered scholarships — and others like Bainbridge teammate Ryan Burris —  this is a pressure-filled week.

“It’s the biggest week I have in basketball,” Diiorio said.

“Yeah, it puts pressure on me, but you just have to deal with it and play your hardest,” he said.

This is exactly why Murray brings his players to these tournaments.

“This is what you want,” Murray said. “You want to play against good talent in a competitive environment. These guys (Petersburg Elite) right here, if you’d have watched them warmup, you’d have said they were going to beat us by 40, 50 points. But we came out and played hard and that’s the experiene you want them to gain and also to understand this is the next level of players If you want to play at a higher level, this is what you’ll face. And there’s players all around the United States playing at this level of basketball.”

As for Petersburg’s Coleman, he’s reportedly been offered by Charlotte, but a lot of schools are now jumping on the bandwagon. It’s easy to see why this previously unknown player is getting some serious looks from schoosl like Indiana, Xavier, Marquette, Oklahoma, Duke, Central Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida.

Total Package Red — the No. 2 squad — lost 75-52 to the Colorado Chaos 17s Red and 75-49 to the talented Houston Hoopstars Elite.

TP Red led most of the first half before becoming unglued against Colorado’s pressure. Against the Houston squad — one of the best select teams in the greater Houston area — the young Total Package club put up a good fight in the first half. Gig Harbor guard Sam Medak had the hot hand, Bremerton’s Terrick Maghee showed off his athleticism on some drives to the hoop and Olympic’s 6-foot-3  Kyle Featherstone got some things done inside while battling 6-7, 6-8 and 6-10 kids inside.

“They try to intimidate you,” South Kitsap incoming sophomore Nars Martinez said, walking to the minivan for the drive back to the motel. “I just turned 15 and these guys are all 17 and play like men.”

In two years, Martinez hopes to be on the other side of things. He’s just got his first taste of what big-time basketball is all about.

Friday’s schedule: Total Package Blue vs. Branch West Orange (Calif.), 12:30 p.m.; and vs. Colorado Chaos 16s Red, 6:45 p.m.. Total Package Red ends pool play against Branch West Red (Calif.) at 1:45 p.m.

After pool play, the 136 teams will be divided into eight-team brackets. Single-elimination play begins Saturday morning.


* Gary Franklin, a 6-3 guard who decommitted (is that a word?) from USC, is now on Washington’s radar. He’s playing with California Supreme — one of eight invited teams in Reebok’s invitation-only Create-N-Finish Cup. The other seven teams: Texas Bluechips, D-One Sports (North Carolina), New York Panthers, Team Detroit, Dakota Schoolers (S.D.), MBA Elite (Miss.) and Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.)

* Other state teams in the Reebok tourney: Eastern Washington Elite Blue, Eastern Washington Elite Red, Eastern Washington Elite White, Ferris Saxons, Northwest Panthers and Team Camas.

* Austin Hollins, son of Memphis Grizzlies coach, Lionel Hollins, is with the Nashville (Tenn.) Celtics in the adidas Super 64.

* Shabazz Muhammad. That’s a name that’s hard to forget and you might be hearing a lot about this hoops prodigy from Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran this piece on him Thursday.

* Former Olympic College guard B.J. Letcher was in the crowd. Murray was an assisant at OC when Letcher played.

* If you’re a mainlining hoops addict, here’s the link that’ll get you all the results to the Reebok tourney.

Check back tomorrow for another update.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Is water a solid or a liquid at room temperature?