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EYBL - Session IV: A Florida Focus

By Rick Staudt, 06/01/17, 6:45PM CDT

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Nike South Beach

It was a tough session for Nike South Beach as they finished with a record of 1-3 for the weekend and 6-10 overall in the league.  This three losses were by a combined six points, two of them by a single point.  Maybe the most heartbreaking loss of all came against Team Melo when a phantom goaltend was called on NSB, sending them to a one point defeat.

Game One was a one point loss to UPLAY Canada.  While NSB held UPLAY to just 39% shooting overall and just 12% from three point range, NSB struggled offensively on their own, shooting just 38% and taking seventeen less shots than the neighbors from the north.  While it was a tough game for the team as a whole, Collin Castleton had some nice numbers: 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

Game Two was against Seattle Rotary.  Another heartbreaker as NSB fell by four.  While South Beach made only one less field goal overall and made three more free throws than Rotary, Seattle’s +5 advantage from beyond the three point line negated any advantage NSB might have had.  South Beach shot just 2-18 from beyond the arc.  This was the first game NSB played with Khavon Moore out of Atlanta.  He was a solid addition, going for 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Game Three was the aforementioned loss to Team Melo.  A rough shooting performance overall by the team (41% overall and 24% from behind the three point line) negated a 31 point performance by Michael Devoe.  Moore had another double/double with 14 points and 11 rebounds but was just 5-21 from the floor overall.  Melo took full advantage of its outside shooting, going 7-14 from behind the arc to get the win.

Game Four ended NSB’s run of bad luck with a decisive win over Portland Basketball Club.  It was like the basketball gods found it in their heart to reward NSB with a standout game.  Five players scored in double figures, the team shot 58% overall (32-55), 56% from beyond the arc (10-18) and 72% from the free throw line.  NSB held Portland to just 37.5% shooting overall and outrebounded them 42-29 on the way to a nine point win.

While it was unlikely that NSB would qualify for the Peach Jam even with a 4-0 record, they never gave up and went down swinging.

Once again, Michael Devoe proved he should be regarded as a high major point guard recruit.  For the weekend, he averaged 18 ppg, 5 rpg, and 5 assists vs 3 turnovers per game.  His averages from the field are reflective of his production: 49% overall, 53% from three, and 83% from the foul line.  Much like Chaundee Brown did last year for NSB, Devoe put on the mantle of “the man” and did everything he could to get wins.

While Collin Castleton did not score a whole lot (7.5ppg), he did average 9.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per contest.  He has had his ups and down in a league full of strong and athletic post players and it has been a challenge for him to adjust and keep up.  In the final EYBL weekend, it looks like he was able to do just that.

Nike Team Florida

It was a bounce-back weekend for NTF.  Firmly on the bubble for making the Peach Jam, NTF finished the weekend 3-1 to complete the EYBL regular season at 8-8.  Hopefully, it will be enough to land them in Augusta the first live period of July.

Game One was a one point victory over Team Melo in which Trendon Watford caught an inbounds pass behind the three point line, turned and fired like nobody was around and had the ball drop in for a dramatic win at the buzzer.  A key to keeping NTF in the game was their 18-8 made free throw advantage as well as their seven blocked shots.  Once again, NTF shot the ball well from the field (58.5%) but allowed the opposition to shoot 50% as well.

Game Two came against division rival Boo Williams and the team from Virginia used their experience to get the victory.  Boo Williams shot nearly 52% overall in the contest and also made more free throws and three point shots than NTF.  The positive of the game for NTF was the play of big man Balsa Kaprovica as he tallied 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the contest.

Nike Team Florida got back on the winning track against Portland Basketball Club in Game Three.  To no one’s surprise the offense was solid with four players in double figures and team shooting numbers of 54% from the field, 83% from the foul line and 36% from beyond the arc.  This time however, NTF played some defense, holding Portland to 41% overall from the field and outrebound them 36-21.

NTF’s final EYBL game was against Seattle Rotary Style, which NTF won by eight points.  It would have been by much more if NTF had of done better than just 14-26 (54%) from the free throw line.  Still, they shot 52% overall, held Seattle to just 46% overall and 25% from three point range and outrebounded them 36-24.

If this past weekend is any indication, Nike Team Florida may be finding their groove at just the right time.  The offense was still in high gear but their defense seems to have picked up.  If they do get into the Peach Jam, they could certainly play the role of spoiler.

Vernon Carey’s numbers may not have been as stellar as in past EYBL sessions but he is still the offensive leader for Nike Team Florida.  He paced the team with 15.5 points a game and shot nearly 50% from the field overall.  Another plus for Carey this past weekend was his 11 assists vs. only 6 turnovers over the course of the four games.

At 10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 2.3 bpg, Balsa Kaprovica had the weekend many had hoped for back at the beginning of the EYBL season.  He has struggled to stay on the floor due to foul issues but this past weekend shows what he can accomplish when he can play extended minutes.

E1T1

E1T1 finished 3-1 out in Los Angeles and more than earned their spot in the Peach Jam, finishing with an overall record of 12-4 finishing one game out of first place in their division despite defeating the two co-champs, CP3 and Boo Williams.  Of all the teams from Florida, they had the most challenging series of games in Los Angeles as their largest win was by only five points.

Game One was an inexplicable loss to the Portland Basketball Club that was soundly defeated by both NSB and NTF this past weekend.  Whether it was jet lag or something else, E1T1 lost the opener by three points.  Both teams shot a solid 49% overall from the field but E1T1 was just 7-13 (54%) from the foul line and Portland shot 12-25 from beyond the three point line. 

Game Two found E1T1 against a very rugged CIA Bounce team out of Canada.  Both teams scored 31 field goals apiece but E1T1’s 8-3 advantage in made three point shots proved to be the difference in a three point victory.  CIA had seven shots thanks to a +9 rebounding advantage but fortunately for E1T1 none of those extra shots found their mark.

Continuing E1T1’s two game series with our neighbors to the North, Game Three matched them up with UPLAY Canada.  In a five point victory where both teams made 31 field goals overall and 9 free throws each, E1T1 was 11-25 from beyond the arc while UPLAY was just 6-17.  The team can thank Samir Stewart for that.  He was an unconscious 8-15 from three point range and finished with a team high 26 points.

E1T1’s final EYBL league game came against CP3, one of the top teams in all of the EYBL.  E1T1 squeaked out a two point win despite shooting just 57% from the free throw line and 23% from beyond the arc.  Fortunately, CP3 didn’t shoot any better from those locations and it simply came down to E1T1 made one more shot than their opponent, despite losing Emmit Williams to ejection in the second half of the contest.

With their place in the Peach Jam secure, E1T1 can look to making improvements in the team’s free throw shooting (just 58.5% over the four games in LA) and in the rebounding department as this was the first session that the team was out-rebounded by opponents.

While Emmitt Williams’ number were more than solid, they were a bit down from the previous three sessions as he averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.  He shot a tremendous 70% overall from the field and that includes going 3-7 from beyond the arc. Williams’ free throw shooting, at just 53% needs to improve before it becomes a liability in Augusta.

Nick Honor continued his stellar play for E1T1.  He averaged over 11 points a contest while shooting over 52% from the field out in Los Angeles.  Honor also shot 37.5% from behind the three point arc and had a solid 2.8 assists to 1.5 turnover ratio.  There might be other point guards in the EYBL that are considered better prospects than Honor but we can’t imagine any of them being as important to their team as him.