Today was the Junior Achievement Charity Basketball Shootout at the Palace, and yours truly was lucky enough to take part. 9 teams of 4, one of them being a kid, shooting from different marked spots on the floor (foul shot =2 pts., bank shot = 2 pts., 3 pointer = 3 pts. ,etc.), scoring as many points as you can in 90 seconds. Each team got 2 rounds, and the top 4 advanced to the final round.
We were able to warm up for about 20-25 minutes before hand, and when I took the floor, I had this huge smile. I started shooting like I always do if I were at the Miami Rec Center, the Northmont gym, or my neighbors' court, starting in close and working my way out. But each time I shot, the thought running through my head was, "I'm doing this at the Palace, I'm doing this at the Palace." It was like fantasy camp. Those 20-25 minutes would've been enough, but it was time to compete. My team did very well, it was me, two kids around 12 and 9 I believe, and one of the kid's dads. We ended up in 2nd, the other Federal Reserve team won, so it was a Fed sweep haha. For not having played in 2 months, I did ok, mostly staying in close, taking a 3 here and there. The kids, on my team and all of the teams stole the show. Talk about enjoying the moment and taking advantage of an opportunity, the little boys and girl that participated. On the winning team, there was a boy who couldn't be any older than 8 who lit it up from 3 point range, NBA 3 point range!!!! The girl, just as old was just as good, but she was on a team that wasn't very good. By finishing in the top 4, I won a Pistons championship bag, a visor, 4 free tickets to a WNBA Detroit Shock game, and a couple of other little toys. I could see the girl was disappointed in not winning the bag itself, it was a kid's size bag. I really had no use for it and she played really well and I thought she deserved it so I gave it to her. She had a huge smile on her face, I'm glad I gave it to her. I just hope she keeps playing.
The Pistons/Nets game was, well an NBA game. Poor shooting, poor overall play, just poor. The best parts of the game were the promos and the fan cams. One little kid took off his shirt, flexed, then started rubbing his stomach in a very sexual manner. A little too scary for me. So of course the rest of the game, every little kid in the arena took off their shirt to try and get on camera. Four words: Where are the parents?!?!?!
But even the dull game can't take the smile off of my face. What a day. Who gets a chance to do this?!?!?! It's awfully hard to top this as far as playing basketball goes.
I will say the Palace has the tightest rims I've ever shot on, I didn't get one single shooter's roll. Granted, the balls were a little heavy and outdoor balls, not indoor balls, but it's no wonder Detroit concentrates on defense, it's hard to make long-range shots with those rims.
I did get to watch most of the college action afterward. You can't spell NCAA without CAA haha!!!!:
- George Mason 86, UConn 84. UConn brought their A game for the first time in this tournament, George Mason brought their A+++++ game. George Mason shot 50% from the floor, 50% from 3, and outrebounded UConn by 4. Simply amazing. GMU's calling card is their defense, but they were unconscious in the 2nd half and overtime. But it looked like UConn would get lucky again after they forced overtime thanks to a missed Tony Skinn free throw that could've sealed it. Before overtime started, you had to ask yourself, do these guys have anything left??? They did, and in fact, they played even better in overtime. They gave Denham Brown a pretty good look to win it, but it was long, and George Mason is the first "mid-major" since 1979 to make the Final 4. This game is right up there with Kentucky/Duke as far as greatness goes. All that's missing is the buzzer beating shot, but I think the Cinderella story makes up for it.
- Florida 75, Villanova 62. When Randy Foye made it a 45-42 game with 11 min. left, I thought Nova would take control. They would find another way to win a game they shouldn't. But even they couldn't overcome 24% shooting, they met their match today. Florida matched their quickness, and proved too hard to guard with their balance offensively. If Florida wins, Joakim Noah will be Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. Just another 21 point, 15 board, 5 block effort for the big man. Florida had 4 in double figures, including 19 from Taurean Green, who has regained most of his early season form. He's cut down on his turnovers, giving Noah and Horford a chance to make plays inside. Florida has that balance back that made them so good early in the year. Villanova was my pick to win it all, and they fought hard, but they didn't have the players to beat Florida.
I really don't know who's going to win this thing. There's no overwhelming favorite (first time a #1 seed didn't make the Final 4 since 1980). Honestly, George Mason has as good of a shot as the other three. And just like the Big Ten put two in the Final 4 last year despite being called weak, the SEC has 2 of the last 4 this year. Also, when was the last time all of the Final 4 teams came from south of the Mason-Dixon line??? If you know the answer, let me know.
Wow, what a day, I think I'll be smiling while I'm sleeping haha.