Best Virginia Post Presence Could Be Key Factor In The Basketball Tournament
The Basketball Tournament, the $2 million winner-take-all event that begins on July 19, features 64 teams that tend toward an up-tempo, open court style of play. Three-point shots and fast-paced action is the norm for many squads, but here and there are some post presences that can give a handful of entrants a different flavor.
That’s certainly the case for Best Virginia, the team made up of West Virginia University alumni which opens play against Seven City Royalty, a squad of Old Dominion alums, on July 26 at 3:00 p.m. in Richmond, Virginia. While the former Mountaineers can certainly push the ball and play quickly, with players such as Juwan Staten, Truck Bryant and Jaysean Paige pushing the action at guard while wings like Joe Alexander, Kevin Jones and John Flowers fill the lanes, they aren’t limited to just one style of play. With Devin Williams and Elijah Macon, Best Virginia can also post up and push the ball inside against teams that might not be able to match their height.
“Knowing that we aren’t college players any more, we have experience playing professional ball. We have a little bit more game to us than when we played in college,” said Macon, who has played in Europe and South America since completing his WVU career. “I expect everyone to see a different game. We can get up and down, but it should be a lot of fun.”
Macon and Williams aren’t just post-up players, and should be able to help no matter how each game evolves. Williams, who has grown at least a couple of inches since his last season at WVU (2015-16), has also expanded his game, and showed that in a recent exhibition game in Beckley, when he stepped out to hit a couple of jumpers while also showing his familiar power game inside. Macon, who wound up his time as a Mountaineer following the 2016-17 season, is alsomore polished offensively.
“We’re putting the focus on what we are going to do on offense, and paying attention to the scout on defense,” Macon said of the goals that remain for the team in the practices before the first game. ” I feel like this team is really good. We’ve been playing together for years, and it all trickles down from Huggs.”
The 11-man Best Virginia roster played different styles under Huggins, with some part of Press Virginia while others were not, so there is still some fine-tuning to do in fitting all of the members together. Williams understands that, and believes that the simplest approach will be the best.
“The most important part is finding a rhythm and going out there and playing together,” he said following the mid-week exhibition game against a group of former collegiate players from Southern West Virginia. “I think John Flowers and the WVU community did a great job of getting these exhibitions together so we can oil the machine.”
Best Virginia did learn some lessons from that game, especially on the defensive end. While the Mountaineer alums took a 118-80 win, their opponents kept the score respectable with a barrage of 3-point field goals, a number of which were contested. Better defense, as well as one other staple of the game, are the keys for head coach Jarrod West.
“They made several shots with hands in their faces, but when we got down to the end you saw the defensive pressure turn up,” West said. “That and defensive rebounding are going to be very important.”
With Macon and Williams, Best Virginia might have a bit of an advantage on the defensive glass. Offensively, BV should also be able to run high-low sets efficiently, as Jones, Flowers and Nathan Adrian could pair with one of the two bigs to attack in different manners. It will be interesting to see just how this might play out, and if the Mountaineer alums can make a difference in style pay off.
Still, for Williams, it’s a matter of executing the fundamentals.
“We need to just make it easier, and do things we are already familiar with and not over-complicate things. Playing in the TBT, it comes down to situations, so it will be good for Coach to be able to draw something up or run a play that everybody is familiar with.”