RTC Live: Legends Classic Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2010

Games #41-#42.  We’re headed to AC for a little blackjack, craps and hoops with the semifinal round of the Legends Classic in store.

Each of the teams coming into Atlantic City this weekend to play in the Legends Classic has a tie or two to the New Jersey/Philadelphia/New York region. UTEP will bring first year head coach Tim Floyd to direct a veteran squad that won the CUSA regular season title in 2009-10 and participated in the NCAA tournament last March. Led by senior guards Randy Culpepper, who has averaged 19.0 points and 3.3 assists per game this season and Christian Polk, who has averaged 15.0 points and 4.3 assists per game will be complemented by senior forward Jeremy Williams, who has averaged 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game this season. For Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt, the trip to Atlantic City is a return to the area where he worked as an assistant on Steve Lappas’ Villanova teams in Philadelphia, and went on to head the Siena program in Albany, NY, before moving to Atlanta and coach the Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets will be led by junior guard Iman Shumpert who has averaged 15.3 points and 3.3 assists per game this season and sophomore forward Brian Oliver who has averaged 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds this season. The Miners and Yellow Jackets will meet in the first semifinal game at 5:30 pm on Friday, November 26.

Michigan’s head coach John Beilein has coached teams up and down the east coast, from Le Moyne just outside of Syracuse, NY, to the University of Richmond in Virginia. During his stint at the Big East’s West Virginia Beilein clashed annually with Michigan’s opponent in the second semifinal game, Syracuse University. Beilein’s unique four-out one-in motion offense will go up against Jim Boeheim’s legendary 2-3 zone defense. The Wolverines will showcase nine players who average more than 10 minutes per game this season, five of whom average more than 20 minutes. Sophomore guards Darius Morris, who has averaged 14.7 Points and 8.1 assists per game and Tim Hardaway, Jr., who has averaged 14.3 points and 2.3 assists per game this season, form, along with red shirt freshman forward Jordan Morgan, who has averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season will try to crack the 2-3 Orange zone. The Orange, led by juniors Rick Jackson, a forward who has averages a double-double 13 points and 13 rebounds per game and guard Scoop Jardine who has averages 12.8 points and 7.5 assists this season will have to figure out how to break Michigan’s 1-3-1 zone defense. Preseason Freshman of the Year Fab Melo, along with well regarded freshman guard Dion Waiters, a Philadelphia native, should see minutes.

Join Rush the Court for the 5:30 tip-off of these two Top 25 match-ups.


The Legends Classic featured two semi-final games that were not settled until the last minutes of action. In the first game Georgia Tech found their shot and downed the Miners of UTEP 71-61 on a second half defensive performance that shut down Miner guard Randy Culpepper. Sophomore guard Glen Rice bested his career-high of 17 points (against Clemson, March 2, 2010) by two points tonight on 6-14 (0-4, 6-10) and 7-9 shooting and completed with a double-double 11 rebounds (4-7-11). The son of NBA player Glen Rice also chipped in five dimes and scored during a crucial second half sequence. The Jackets limited the Miners star guard Randy Culpepper to eight second half points on 4-8 (0-3, 4-5) shooting.  UTEP coach Tim Floyd credited the Jackets with playing hard, and smart, something he felt his Miners lacked.

The nightcap, a 53-50 nailbiter that was taken by Syracuse in the last minute of play, was a beautiful exercise in how each possession counts. Wolverine coach John Beilein clashed with his old nemesis Jim Boeheim, and yet again was schooled in the intricacies of the 2-3 zone as the Orange shut down the Michigan version of his Flying Circus, limiting his team (and offensive system) to 38.7% (eFG%) that included an ugly 8-32 (25%) shooting performance from beyond the arc. Syracuse limited Michigan to 0.83 points per possession, 0.63 in the second half.  Junior forward Kris Joseph scored a game-high 22 points on 8-14 (3-6, 5-8) and 3-5 shooting that included several crucial second half jumpers.

Syracuse and Georgia Tech will meet in the finals at 7:30pm November 27, while UTEP and Michigan will meet in the consolation game at 5:30pm November 27.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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