Thursday, December 28, 2023

NBA Great Camby Leads UMass 1996 vs. Liberty & No. 2 Scorer McGhee

I don't usually mix my professional life with this fun sports blog page, but at the risk of losing half my readers, our next Value Add Basketball Game tournament starts with a personally interesting match-up for me as I start a new faith-based organization. Liberty University has been a faith-based leader from the days of Jerry Falwell to DC Talk concerts and beyond, while their opponent is the first of three schools taken to the Final Four by John Calipari, who goes to Mass every morning no matter what - as recounted in this piece. OK, the rest is about basketball, no preaching :-).

This is the first match-up in a tournament of the 16 teams now being calculated and added to even our game at 200 great teams. The 1-seed UMass 1996 was truly an overlooked team when I did earlier cards, as I already rank them as one of the top 40 all-time great teams in my game. Our 16-seed Liberty 2023 is one of the two incredible athletic department stories coming out of Virginia today - the other being James Madison University whose current 2024 team will play our No. 2 seed Oregon State 1982. 

While the underdog, the amazing Darius McGhee of Liberty is the kind of opponents 1-seeds fear. He gets the ball a ton (on a roll of 2, 6 or 7 on the 8-sided die as the player in the country who shot more than any other player last year). If the defense doesn't stop him with a blocked shot or by forcing a turnover, then he hits a 3-pointer on a 1-5 on the 20-sided die. He lit it up with 821 points last season, the second highest total in the country. That included closing the season with 26 points in an NIT upset of Villanova and 31 points in a near upset at Wisconsin in the NIT, to end the season ranked as the 10th best player in the country at At 5'9 he was not big enough for the NBA, but got on the court in the G-League. 

The favorites are John Calipari's first of three schools to make the Final 4 - the only other coach being Rick Pitino. Calipari's Minutemen featured National Player of the Year Marcus Camby, who was also the No. 2 player in the NBA draft being only AI, Allen Iverson. The writers picked UMass No. 1, and coaches said No. 1 behind Kentucky. While the Wildcats did beat them in the Final 4, UMass gave them their closest battle of the tournament - losing by only 7 after Kentucky had blown out their first four opponents by 20+. The Kentucky 1996 team is also u. The game and quite possibly the best of all times though right now we rank Bill Walton's UCLA champs at No. 1.

This left no doubt UMass was the No. 2 team that season, and Calipari would go on to take Memphis and Kentucky to the Final 4, getting his title in 2012 with Kentucky and Anthony Davis. Camby would just miss averaging a career double-double over 16 years in the NBA - including leading the league in blocked shots three years in a row. We are almost done with the cards for the 16 new teams - bringing our total to 200 great teams - but as we often do we start with these sheets for both teams which will be turned into cards soon. 

Liberty 2023, Ht, Pts, Pos – No. 16 Seed of 16 new Value Add Basketball Teams

Colin Porter, 5'9,7.8 ppg, PG-1

Darius McGhee, 5'9,22.8 ppg, SG-2

Joseph Venzant, 6'3,4.2 ppg, SF-3

Kyle Rode, 6'7,10.9 ppg, PF-4

Blake Preston, 6'9,6.7 ppg, C-5

Brody Peebles, 6'2,7.4 ppg, PG-1

Jonathan Jackson, 6'4,1.4 ppg, SG-2

Isiah Warfield, 6'5,2.9 ppg, SF-3

Zach Cleveland, 6'7,3.4 ppg, PF-4

Shiloh Robinson, 6'7,7.6 ppg, C-5

Massachusetts 1996, Ht, Pts, Pos – No. 1 Seed of 16 new Value Add Basketball Teams

Edgar Padilla, 6'2,8.9 ppg, PG-1

Carmelo Travieso, 6'2,12.6 ppg, SG-2

Donta Bright, 6'6,14.5 ppg, SF-3

Dana Dingle, 6'7,10.1 ppg, PF-4

Marcus Camby, 6'11,20.5 ppg,NBA, C-5

Charlton Clarke, 6'3,1.4 ppg, PG-1

Tyrone Weeks, 6'7,5.8 ppg, SG-2

Rigoberto Nunez, 6'7,0.5 ppg, SF-3

Inus Norville, 6'9,2.4 ppg, PF-4

Ted Cottrell, 6'9,0.9 ppg, C-5

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