By the power invested in Marcus Hall, the Buffs alumni will play in the final game of The Basketball Tournament. Team Colorado pulled out a 78-70 victory over Always A Brave, a squad made up mostly of members the Bradley Braves’ 2006 Sweet Sixteen team. The Buffs alumni will play either City of Gods or Overseas Elite for the $2,000,000 grand prize on Tuesday, August 2. The championship will be aired on ESPN at 5 p.m. (MST).
Per usual, Team Colorado allowed the opposition to settle into a nice run to start the game. After spotting them seven points to start the game, Marcus Hall and Calvin Williams inspired a run that saw Colorado tie the game, take the lead and go up 20-12 before Bradley had a counter run of their own. Concurrent hot streaks from Marcus Relphorde and Bradley’s Patrick O’Bryant — the 9th pick of the 2006 NBA Draft — saw the two exchange baskets until the first half ended with Colorado up 31-27.
Similar to Team Colorado’s previous two games against Team 23 and Team Utah, the second half opened with sloppy play and a heavy helping of turnovers. Most of the turnovers and air-balls were from the Buffs — mostly from Marcus Relphorde — but a frenzied Buffs defense made it impossible for Bradley to capitalize. Even with a massive size advantage, Bradley finished the game with a pitiful 36% shooting performance. Bradley never led in the second half.
Team Colorado eventually overcame their turnover struggles (for the most part), and with Bradley unable to make a basket, the Buffs spent the final minutes extending their lead. Behind those made shots was the talisman Marcus Hall. Hall, the 2008 graduate, continued his excellent play and powered Team Colorado through the finish line. With scoop-and-scores, dink-and-dimes, drive-and-kicks, slip-and-slides and the like, Hall finished the game with 25 points on 21 shots. He also had four assists and seven rebounds all while playing excellent perimeter defense. Hall is averaging 24 points per game and should Team Colorado win on Tuesday, he is the obvious Tournament MVP.
Not to be forgotten, Marcus Relphorde and Dominique Coleman had excellent game themselves. Despite turning over the ball four times (it felt like more), Relphorde was vital on both ends of the court. He posted 21 points on only eleven shots (it felt like way more) and made crucial, momentum-altering defensive plays. Coleman didn’t do much on offense — he had six points (3-11 shooting) and six assists — but was incredible on defense. Coleman was everyone on that end and on the glass, out-hustling and out-grinding everyone and their teammate. He finished with game-highs fifteen rebounds and four assists.
No matter who they play, Team Colorado stands an excellent chance to win if they continue to play defense of this kind with Hall and Relphorde producing similarly on offense. They stand a better chance if Richard Roby — Colorado’s most talented player — comes back from his MCL injury to help take the pressure off the Marcuses.
UPDATE: Overseas Elite beat City of Gods in the other semifinal.
Overseas Elite, Team Colorado’s final opponent, may be the most experienced team in the tournament’s 64-team field. Overseas Elite won The Basketball Tournament last year over Team 23 and have pulled compelling wins in each of their five games thus far. The team made up of a litany of former college stars, most notably Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane and Texas’s Myck Kabongo. Also on the team is Arizona’s Kyle Fogg (he scored 42 against City of Gods) and C.J. McCollum’s little brother Errick of Goshen College. C.J. acts as the team’s booster. Overseas Elite have a lot of talent and experience on the floor, so Team Colorado will need to bring their A-game to finish off their Cinderella run.