Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Day six: November 20—Men’s tourney wraps up

The 2006 men’s tournament is over—the University of Alabama took the title with a 63-56 win over Xavier in the final game. The Virgin Island crowds were treated to an exciting tournament from start to finish. Alabama’s Alonzo Gee was named tournament MVP. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammate Ronald Steele and Xavier’s Stanley Burrell. The rest of the day’s all-stars, results and recaps are listed below:

Game #1 College of Charleston 64 MTSU 56 (7th & 8th Place)
Senior Dontaye Draper’s 31 points and sophomore Jermaine Johnson’s 12 points off the bench paced the College of Charleston men’s basketball team to a victory over MTSU in the seventh place game.

Game #2 Toledo 60 VCU 59 (4th & 6th Place)
Senior forward Florentino Valencia scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds to hold off Virginia Commonwealth to earn the 4th spot in the consolation bracket. The two evenly matched and defensive minded teams battled until the final buzzer, VCU was led by Jesse Pellot-Rosa’s 13 points. Pellot-Rosa nailed a three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to bring the Rams to within one, but Toledo was able to hold on for the win with late free throws.

Game #3 Villanova 89 Iowa 60 (3rd & 5th Place)
Curtis Sumpter scored 26 points and Dwayne Anderson added 18 to lead Villanova to victory over Iowa. Villanova hit seven of 10 3-point shots in the second half to seal their 3rd place finish. Adam Haluska scored 18 points for Iowa and Kurt Looby, from nearby Antigua, added 13 points and three blocked shots.

Game #4 Alabama 63 Xavier 56 (Championship)
Xavier made quite a run at the No. 10 Alabama team and was able to take a six point lead for a short time in the second half. Alabama stepped up their inside game and clamped down on defense to eventually take control of the game. Tournament MVP Alonzo Gee and fellow teammate Mykal Riley led the Tide with 13 points; Xavier’s Josh Duncan paced the Musketeers with 14 points.

1. Alabama
2. Xavier
3. Villanova
4. Toledo
5. Iowa
6. Virginia Commonwealth
7. College of Charleston
8. Middle Tennessee State

Alonzo Gee - Alabama

Justin Ingram-Toledo
Tyler Smith-Iowa
Curtis Sumpter-Villanova
Stanley Burrell-Xavier
Ronald Steele-Alabama

That’s it for the men’s side, the women’s tournament will start Thursday, November 23, jump over the women’s blog (http://www.paradisejam06women.blogspot.com) in the next day or two for updates, scores and inside scoop. Today, I will enjoy some free time da’ island. Thanks for reading, mon!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Day five: November 19, 2006 – Final day of men’s tournament

Yesterday rocked! Two outstanding semifinal games were played to settle the final pairings for today’s final round action. Here is how it turned out:

Game #1 Alabama 72 Iowa 60
This was the first-ever matchup between Alabama and Iowa men’s basketball and the No. 10 Crimson Tide had a tough time shaking the Hawkeyes, leading by only one at the half (32-31). Alabama was able to extend its lead behind some acrobatic dunks by Alonzo Gee who led the Tide with 21 points. Iowa was led by Tyler Smith with 19. The win puts Alabama into the championship to face Xavier. Iowa will face Villanova in the 3rd place game.

Game #2 Xavier 71 Villanova 66
We may be in the laid back atmosphere of the Caribbean, but it was high tension at UVI as Xavier and Villanova battled for the final spot in the championship game. With 13 lead changes; it came down to who had the ball last to decide the winner. Xavier’s Stanley Burrell led all scorers with 26 points. Xavier will take on Alabama in the final game. Villanova will meet Iowa in the 3rd place contest.

Today will be a long day with four games beginning at 2:00 pm AST / 1:00 pm EST. I had a question about television coverage for the games, so here is the scoop—tonight’s games at 7:00 and 9:30 pm AST (AST is one hour ahead of EST) will be broadcast live nationally on Fox College Sports and regionally on SportSouth so be sure to tune and see the action.

If you can’t watch the games, check the Paradise Jam website (http://www.paradisejam.com) for updates, box scores and schedules. You can also watch the stats live and in real time—just click the “View Stats Live” button on the score update page (http://www.paradisejam.com/pages/m_scores.htm). The locals have really embraced the tournament and tonight promises to be a paradise basketball party with thumping jock jams sprinkled with Calypso beats—PRICELESS!

Of course, after tonight we will begin preparing for the women’s tournament that will begin November 23 and will feature in the St. John Field: Auburn, Marquette, Western Michigan, Xavier; and in the St. Thomas Field: Arizona State, Penn State, Rutgers, Western Kentucky. Check back for game times and updates. (Hey Beth, Shannon and the rest of the WBCA crew—wish you were here, but Stephanie arrived safely. Thanks for the “itinerary” we will follow it religiously :)

They just turned up the arena music, that’s my cue! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day Four: Second Round Games and Beach time – November 18, 2006

Great day yesterday! It was nice to be able enjoy some sunshine, but more importantly, some extra hours of rest; especially since we didn’t return to the hotel until after 1:00 am. Although we only had two games to work last night, we still had work until after midnight to deal with. Yesterday’s games were both exciting and closely contested - the first one requiring overtime to decide.

Here’s how they went:
Game #1 Toledo 75 MTSU 69 (OT)
MTSU let a 20 point lead slip away and Toledo’s Justin Ingram hit a clutch shot with .9 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime. For the second night in a row, Ingram led all scorers with 32 points, going 6 for 11 from behind the arc. MTSU was led by Tim Blue with 14 points.

Game #2 Virginia Commonwealth 71 College of Charleston 59
VCU stepped up their defense and offensive production in the final five minutes to widen its lead against College of Charleston. The game was tightly contested throughout, and although CofC’s Dontaye Draper led the way with 20 points, VCU’s 15 offensive rebounds were key for the Rams. VCU’s B.A. Walker scored his 1,000 point in the contest and set a VCU record for career 3-pointers (183).

So now we have Toledo and VCU going on to play for 4th place and MTSU and College of Charleston will play for 7th place on tomorrow. Today’s semi-final games will unveil the teams that will play for the championship with Alabama vs. Iowa at 7:00 pm AST and Xavier vs. Villanova at 9:30 AST pm. Today's games will be broadcast live nationally on Fox College Sports and regionally on SportSouth.

Since yesterday was “Rivalry Week” in college football, our attendance at the gym did not pick up until later in the afternoon and the media room was buzzing with the Ohio State win over Michigan. We did pick up over 2,100 fans by the end of the night and great games and party atmosphere made for a tremendous evening.

We will posting photos on the Paradise Jam website soon: http://www.paradisejam.com Take some time to check them out.

The day today is similar to yesterday schedule-wise, so it will be more beachtime for me and on to the gym later in the afternoon. I have friend back home that spent her honeymoon here 20 years ago and she said she cried when they had to leave, I'm starting to see why!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Day three: November 17, 2006 – Let the games begin!

Hello there! The first day of play was fantastic. A crazy day for the staff, but everything seemed to go well with very few problems. We had a lot to do and thankfully, lots of people to help to do it.

Here is a quick update from yesterday’s four games:
Game #1 Alabama 71 Middle Tennessee St. 62
In the first game of the 2006 Paradise Jam, MTSU was able to pull even with the Crimson Tide, but No. 10 Alabama, lead by Ronald Steele’s 20 pts., were able to hold off the upset minded Blue Raiders. High scorers: Ronald Steele (UA) 20 pts.; Tim Blue (MTSU) 13 pts.

Game #2 Iowa 78 Toledo 65
The two Midwest teams played a physical and fast game to finish out the afternoon rounds. Although Toledo scored 27 points on turnovers, Iowa’s inside game wore down the Rockets in the end. Iowa’s Tyler Smith led the way with 28 pts. Justin Ingram led Toledo with 22 pts.

Game #3 Xavier 70 Virginia Commonwealth 67
Xavier and VCU put on a show for the Paradise Jam crowd with their intense defense and hustle in a game which kept fans on the edge of their seats until the final 10 seconds. Xavier had four of its five starters score in double figures while VCU was able to overcome a 14 point deficit to come within one late in the game behind the 21 points of B.A. Walker.

Game #4 Villanova 81 College of Charleston 68
Villanova had a strong second half, eventually building an 18 point lead, to defeat College of Charleston in the final game of the first day of men’s play. Senior, Curtis Sumpter tallied a game high 17 points for the Wildcats. Top scorer for CofC was Josh Jackson with 13 points.

As each game went on, the crowds grew larger and larger—I have a suggestion for any basketball game played on the mainland—play calypso music during time outs and half time. You can’t help but have a great time to sounds of kettle drums and island music! I am impressed with how many locals came to the games; in fact, Paradise Jam set an attendance record in the evening games with nearly 2,500 fans. The St. Thomas crowds seem to love the high flying men's collegiate game.

With the final game not ending until nearly midnight, it was a long but successful day for everyone here. Today, all the winning teams will go out on a catamaran tour and do some snorkeling and sightseeing. All of us staff were able to sleep in a little and maybe catch some sunshine and beach time, since we only have two games tonight: MTSU vs. Toledo at 7:00 pm, and Virginia Commonwealth vs. College of Charleston at 9:30 pm. Time to hit the beach for me—check back for updates tomorrow!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day two: November 16, 2006 – Travel Day Part II

I’m here! The island is beautiful and the weather fabulous (although as soon as we landed, they had one of their afternoon tropical storms for about an hour-couldn’t help but think it followed me from Seattle.)

The day started early again, but I eventually made my flights from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico and eventually onto St. Thomas. BTI was kind enough to send a driver to pick me up and we slowly made our way to the hotel, thank goodness! I want no part of driving on the left side of the road here. It is weird—the steering wheel is on the right, but you drive on the left. It is Keith’s (the driver) first time driving here, but he has been here since Sunday and says he is kind of used to it as long as he has a car in front him to follow—luckily it was a high traffic time here and we had a lot cars to follow as we made our way from the airport.

I finally got to see Nancy after so many years! All these years, and we hadn’t crossed paths much since we graduated in nineteen hundred and something (wink!) She, of course, is up to her eyeballs in work right now, but it is great to reacquaint with her again. I had met her husband Nels a few times when I worked with the WBCA, but did not get to see Nancy.

The back-story is that Nels and Nancy run a company called Basketball Travelers, Inc. in Edmonds, Wash. The company specializes in arranging tours and tournaments for collegiate and high school basketball teams. Check out their website: http://www.basketballtravelers.com/

Tonight was the welcome reception at the St. Thomas Skyride that also featured a live radio show. We were expecting about 350 people (all the teams, coaches, support staff and VIP’s) and they all came. They took them up to this great little restaurant on hillside with an unbelievable view. To get there, they went up on a five-minute gondola ride and the funniest thing in the world was to see a 6’7”, 240 lb. basketball player take one look and say, “Ain’t no way I’m going up in that thing!” Thankfully, everyone braved the ride and had a great time eating, watching the bird show and listening to Hurricane Bob, the one man band.

It is late, I am tired and tomorrow the games will begin. Check back for scores, highlights and hopefully some photos soon. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Day One: Nov. 15 - Travel Day - Part I

Oh the joys of travel! Schlepping bags here and there, 3.4 oz. bottles and zip lock baggies, nearly disrobing entirely to get through airport security and the most fun of all, flight cancellations. My trip to basketball paradise will have to wait another day as I attempt to make my way across the country from Seattle to St. Thomas, but I have yet to quit smiling at the thought of spending time enjoying my two favorite things—college basketball and tropical beaches. Are they really happening at the same time? Wow!

It took some creative booking to get my flight rebooked after the Seattle to Dallas flight was cancelled. Most people are too tired at 4 a.m. to be angry—except for one lady. She screamed at the airline agent as if somehow the weather in Dallas was his fault. Poor guy, he just smiled and took it.

They asked me a couple of days ago to blog the 2006 Paradise Jam, and what blog would be complete without the obligatory angst and woe from the writer? There you have it—the first two paragraphs are all you’re going to get. From here on out, it is “my life in paradise” at the 2006 Paradise Jam!

So who is this basketball blogger anyway? My name is Dana Hinman and I am the media relations director for this year’s tournament. In a previous life, I was a teacher, coach and collegiate athlete. I then moved on to work in communications for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in Atlanta, Ga., which is where I became reacquainted with Nancy Hawkinson (nee Hove) from Basketball Travelers, Inc. Turns out BTI and the WBCA have been in partnership for a few years, and Nancy and I went to high school together. (Some of you may remember Nancy’s all-star days as a basketball player from Auburn (Wash.) High School and the University of Washington.) After three years with the WBCA, I missed my home in the Great Northwest and headed back west where I now live and work. (Shout out to the girls at City Hall—wish you were here!)

I have to say, I was flattered and grateful that Nancy and the BTI crew asked for my help this year and jumped at the chance to spend time in St. Thomas covering some of the opening games of the collegiate basketball season. It will be a nice break from the grey clouds and pervasive Seattle rain. And so begins my blog, I am on my way to St. Louis, then Miami, and I will eventually touch down in St. Thomas tomorrow—stay tuned! And before I sign off--thank you Becky and the entire BTI staff for all the help today--whew!

Dana “Taking the Long Way” Hinman
(points for knowing the who sings the above song)