2013 Great Alaska Shootout Preview

11/27/13 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Nov 24, 2013; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes point guard Askia Booker (0} watches a Harvard Crimson guard Siyani Chambers (1) attempts a basket in the second half at the Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes defeated Crimson 70-62. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY SportsThe Great Alaska Shootout was once one of the great early season tournaments, with Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas all among the winners of the tournament in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, with a plethora of tournaments to choose from, most in vacation destinations in the Caribbean, the Shootout just doesn’t attract the star power it used to. There is a good field this season, filled with many mid-major teams which could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament.

Here is a breakdown of the Great Alaska Shootout field:
 
Denver
Coming off an NIT appearance and 22 wins last season, Joe Scott’s Pioneers are off to a 0 and 2 start, though both losses are to Pac-12 teams (California and Stanford.)   2nd leading scorer Royce O’Neale transferred to Baylor, but Scott has talent that is experienced in running his Princeton-style offense. Chris Udofia is a strong guard who does a great job finding holes in the defense and exploiting them for easy baskets, and has been developing an increasingly consistent jumper. Junior guards Cam Griffin and Brett Olson understand the spacing and Scott’s offense well and do a good job making strong cuts to the rim. Freshman forward Drick Bernstine is a good high post passer and should develop into a 3rd scoring option for the Pioneers. Sophomore guard Jalen Love is off to a slow shooting start this season, but did play valuable minutes as a freshman. To make any waves up in Alaska, the Pioneers will need to do a better job rebounding and knocking down open jumpers.

Green Bay
Brian Wardle’s Phoenix will be one of the better teams in the Horizon League this season and have already come close to upsetting Wisconsin at home last week. The team is led by the duo of junior point guard Keifer Sykes and senior center Alec Brown. Sykes is a quick, dynamic guard who is tough for any defender to keep in front of him.  He does a good job protecting the ball on offense, can be a playmaker when needed, and is an improving ball defender. The 7’1 Brown is a very strong help defender and shot blocker, but on offense, he needs to get much stronger to take advantage of his size. He has developed a good jumper which is tough for teams to stop, but he needs to take advantage in the post more. Sophomore forward Jordan Fouse is a good rebounder on both ends of the floor and can find ways to get easy scores around the basket. Rutgers transfer Vincent Garrett is an athletic wing who likes to take advantage of size mismatches and take smaller defenders into the post or drive by larger defenders. Sophomore guard Carrington Love is a decent perimeter shooter and a nice compliment to Sykes on offense. Junior forward Greg Mays is an efficient scorer and strong rebounder. The Phoenix have done a great job on defense and the boards through three games, but the offense has to become much more than Sykes looking to attack the basket as the season goes on.

Harvard
The Crimson may not be just the top the team in the Ivy League this season; they may be one of the better teams in the country. Tommy Amaker’s roster is deep and talented, and received a boost when seniors Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey returned from last season’s suspension.  In their absence, some new stars arose last season. Sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers is a terrific all-around guard, balancing playmaking with the ability to score at the basket or behind the 3-point arc. Junior wing Wesley Saunders is an athletic slasher who uses his body well to finish strong at the basket. Senior guard Laurent Rivard may be the Crimson’s best long-range threat. Though off to a tough start this season, last year, Rivard made 80 three-pointers at a 40% rate. Curry was the team’s point guard before his suspension, and now having him back gives Amaker flexibility to set his line-ups based on match-up. Casey is a versatile scorer and a tough defender.  Heading into this tournament, Amaker is still working out how to best balance the amount of talent he has at his disposable while also working Curry and Casey back into the line-up. The perimeter shooting has been off early on this year and it’s an area where Harvard needs to do well to knock off bigger teams. 
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