Most of the players arrived well before the 7 p.m. start and, for the most part, they all seemed jovial. The mood was light as ‘what’s up’s?’ and daps were exchanged. The NRF crew finally arrives-Bernard, Little B, Sai and The Commish, and things get set up.
Mood: Still jovial.
Nothing truly changes until Lil’ Wayne booms through the speakers. That when the smiles turn to scowls, the laughter turns to lyrics and it seems to set in with the players that in 40 minutes, someone’s season is coming to a close.
Bang “You can guard me” Lee and Scott Williams trade three’s to start the game but no team was able to truly pull away. AF1’s ran an offense that was helter-skelter, disguised as the high post through Jason Burke. Before the tip, Bang (11 points, four steals) had noted that missing Brandon Smith and Jay “Elite 20-Cor” bin was going to be big. But where his fellow purple people were missing, he-along with Ryan Fisher, stepped up and scored eight first-half points. But as to be expected, Williams and Burke were leading their respective squads with 12 each by the half, as AF1built a 28-18 halftime lead.
Ben Detrick opened up the second half with a three, stretching the lead to 13 for AF1. However, the tempo for both teams was far from up and both teams struggled to score for most of the second half. Fisher (10 points) and Burke would connect for pick and roll of perfection, pushing the lead to 15 (38-23). Williams, who finished with 18, just couldn’t get going and neither could the rest of defending champs (no one else on Uptempo finished with more than seven points). AF1 made good on Burke’s promise and is headed to the Garden for the ‘chip.
An emotional Burke (17 points and 11 rebounds) could only muster up a few words after the game.
“This feels great,” Burke said. “I just wanna thank UConn, Kemba Walker, Ben Detrick for being our Kevin Ollie-Uptempo, Schmuptempo, we’re going to the Garden.”