Day 2 of Battle 4 Atlantis kicked off with our adopted home team the Michigan St. “Tum Tum could Dunk?” Spartans vs. The Baylor “Uniforms from God” Bears. No Bahamian has been on a team that’s won Battle for Atlantis, not Buddy Hield, not Tavario Miller, not Shaquille Cleare, not Wannah Bail, so we’re hoping this is the year that changes and the Spartans were in a prime position to get it done.
Unfortunately Baylor is really good.
Despite the Spartans best efforts the trend is going to continue because the Bears Johnathan Motley is a man and decided to score all the points, like all of ’em. I couldn’t watch the first game in the arena so kept up with the action on the ESPN app and I legitimately thought they had an error or maybe something weird happened and Motley was playing the game by himself.
Motley was able to dominate because Michigan St’s frontline just wasn’t big enough and they ended up getting bullied in the paint. Tum Tum couldn’t reprise his breakout performance from Day 1 of B4A. Last year we saw Syracuse translate their B4A performance into a season that ended with a Final Four appearance and you knew every coach imparted this message to their team, especially Izzo. On the other-side of the ball Baylor, shit they’re good, but more on them later. Let’s just say Motely may be playing himself into the first round of next year’s draft.
The second matchup from the winner’s bracket saw the Louisville “Ray Ganong” Cardinals take on the Wichita “Still Kadeem’s Team” Shockers. As an aside Ray Ganong is Frank’s real name. The strength and conditioning coach on the Cardinals staff whose antics appear to be legendary. Ray still spazed despite the Cardinals blowout win. He still managed to, yell out “hustle, rebound” and general insanity from the bench. Everyone needs to get on the Ray Ganong workout plan that much is clear, the man is the walking embodiment of C4. Nal is pissed at how easy this looked for Louisville. This won’t be the first or last time he freaks out over Pitino and the Cardinals. Also Louisville fans are
insane passionate. They heckle refs, each other, their own players and even Pitino. Kentucky basketball everyone.
I’ll be honest I had do go eat Turkey and drink John’s alcohol so I didn’t watch the night games in person. Without even watching the games though here are my takeaways that I’m sure remained constant. Lovett gave buckets to everyone on VCU, St. John’s won, and his sneaker game was proper. Wait no he didn’t? VCU won? Obviously Chris Mullin is still wearing short pants to coach these games.
The other game had the LSU “Cardo’s team” Tigers taking out the ODU “I got nothing for them” Monarchs. Apparently LSU didn’t just come for the slides, who knew? They send ODU to 0-2 for the tournament and maybe now they’re the new team on Atlantis slide watch. Gotta say didn’t see that coming all my recency bias from Day 1 didn’t see LSU pulling this one off and I’m certain their success is gonna translate into day 3.
Day 3 is championship day and the first two games usually focus on the teams that are (to steal Nal’s favorite phrase) gonna make some noise in the tournament. It’s Tum Tum’s last game at home and he finishes the game with a career high 12 assists. The young bull Miles Bridges also delivers for the Spartans a foreshadowing of things to come…maybe. The Spartans have had an insane schedule going from Michigan to Hawaii, to New York, back to Michigan, and then finally to The Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis. This team has barely had a chance to practice and has still managed to escape B4A with a 2-1 record. This team isn’t punting the 2017 season by any means. When tournament time rolls around, regardless of their ranking this is going to be a seasoned team that somehow made it through this fire.
The Championship Game.
The Louisville “Bane of Nal’s existence” Cardinals take on Baylor “Best team in Texas?” Bears. If it were up to me Baylor would start off every game with a 20 point lead based on uniforms alone. And damn could they have used it for this one. Louisville blitz’s Baylor right away and their backcourt of Snider and Mitchell are dominating at both ends. Everything works in the first half for Pitino and the refs are helping their cause. Ray isn’t so much yelling at the players as being the most vocal Cardinal cheerleader that ever existed. The Cardinals fans are talking so much trash behind us that Nal, an ardent Kentucky fan, seems to be breaking down in realtime. I actually watch him talk shit to a Cardinal fan on Facebook whose already celebrating the B4A champs. “They came to your country and won. That one was just for you”. That’s just a good bar at anytime.
At this point I’m thinking I should just rush back to work and call this a day. I mean every time Baylor seems to make a run Louisville responds with a press that flusters their guards.
Then it happens. Baylor subs in a backup point guard Mitchell #1. I have no evidence for this but I just tell Nal this’ll change the momentum of the game. I don’t know what his plus/minus is and he scores I think zero points at the end of this, But Nal and I argue about why I think this means Baylor is gonna win. As always they provide the media with a sheet to fill out for the all tournament team and despite all of Nal’s advanced college basketball knowledge we pick the exact same team. Ha. I know my basketball.
In the second half with the Cardinals up 15 ,and despite my earlier endorsement of Mitchell I decide this one may be done and head back to work. I get to the front of Atlantis and get a Message from John, “It’s a 7 point game”. Fine whatever, it’s closer than expected but they’re not actually going to win the game right. I get to the foot of the bridge and get a message from Nal, “I TOLD YOU”. Louisville is up by one and as Nal described it the air just got sucked out of the arena. All you can hear is the small contingent of Baylor fans going out of their minds. By the time I make it to Shirley Street Nal is just sending crying face emojis and writing. ” HAHAHA DEY LOSE” in all caps over and over and over. For a Kentucky Wildcat fan watching Louisville blow a 20 point lead in the B4A championship must be like a mixture of homecoming and Christmas.
Baylor and _______ are legit and if past B4A results are any indicators, expect at the very least a run to the Sweet 16 in their future. For Louisville, Michigan St. and Baylor these November games set the tone for the rest of the season before conference play starts exposing and highlighting weaknesses. The fast paced nature of B4A is unforgiving and coaches around D1 know it’s a proving ground for their teams; and it’s played here, every year, In The Bahamas. It’s always a pretty big deal and the very nature and scale of the tournament is great for our younger athletes to see up close gives them something to dream about a goal to aspire to and it will never get old.
Someday a Bahamian player is going to win this thing on home soil and we’re all going to take notice, even some of us college basketball fans.
Someday just may be sooner than you think.