Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those purely of the individual writing them, and do not in any way constitute an official stance or opinion of either Gatehouse Media, or the Dodge City Daily Globe.
Day one of the 2018 Tournament of Champions set up a strong day two. After looking at stats this morning, here are some thoughts I have.
Takeaway No. 1: There were a lot of weird statistical similarities between teams on Thursday
If you were a team that lost Thursday, you probably scored exactly 45 points. Dodge City was the only team to lose Thursday scoring anything other than 45 points, scoring 71 in a 98-71 route by Maize.
All three other losing teams Thursday ended with final scores of 45 points.
Another statistic from Thursday that I thought was weird was team 3-pointers made.
Hays made the most, 12 against Manhattan who had a tournament-low three made against them in return. Hays, interestingly, made as many against Manhattan as Manhattan even attempted against them.
Behind Manhattan though, a whole bunch of teams made exactly five 3-pointers Thursday.
Thursday’s second game, which immediately followed Hays versus Manhattan, featured Wichita Heights against Leavenworth, both of which made exactly five 3-pointers against each other.
In game three, Maize made exactly five 3’s against Dodge City.
And in the dunk-a-thon that was the final game of day one, Bishop Miege and Wichita East both made exactly five 3’s against each other.
For those of you keeping count at home, that means (perhaps ironically) that five teams ended games with five 3-pointers. The three exceptions were Hays, which had the most; Dodge City, which had both the second most made and most made in a loss with nine; and Manhattan, which had the fewest, having made just three.
How relevant those two things are, I don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see how those stats feed into what happens day two and three of the tournament.
Takeaway No. 2: Dodge City’s game against Maize gave us more questions than answers
Maize rolled through Dodge City Thursday, jumping out to a 19-0 lead, but we won’t know until the end of Friday’s games if that was because Dodge City is really bad, if they’re good and had a bad game, or if Maize is just a buzzsaw and should be considered the favorites in this tournament.
The biggest margin of victory for a team Thursday was Maize, who beat Dodge City by 27. Junior Caleb Grill had the most points individually of any player on day one, with 38.
Grill’s five steals were the most by any player day one as well, though he also had two teammates who tied for the second-most individual steals Thursday with four each, senior Jalen Johnson and junior Tanner Ohnmeis.
Johnson had the most individual assists by any player in the tournament Thursday, with 11.
What that says about Dodge City remains to be seen. Red Demons head coach Tony Starnes told the Dodge City Daily Globe Thursday that the team got “killed” on the boards, and that would be right. They allowed the most rebounds (45) and got the second-fewest, with 26.
So is Maize really good, or is Dodge City really bad, or was this simply a case of one team having a great day while another has a terrible one in the same game against each other, which is something that occasionally happens in basketball.
Turns out, Friday may provide the answer, and that leads right into my last day-one takeaway.
Takeaway No. 3: The 7:30 p.m. game tonight will probably answer a lot of questions, and be really entertaining as well.
First off, if you can come watch all of the Friday games in the Tournament of Champions, you should.
These really are, in my personal opinion, remarkable young athletes, and this event really in incredible. From readers, to coaches of all the teams, to friends I know who write about sports across the state of Kansas, all of them told how great both the athletes and the event would be, and I can’t say enough about how right all of those people were.
With that said, tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game between Bishop Miege and Maize could very well reveal which team is the favorite to win the whole Tournament.
Maize won against Dodge City by just one more point than Bishop Miege did against Wichita East, 27 points and 26 points respectively. Maize had the highest-scoring player the opening day of the tournament in Caleb Grill, but how strong a challenge he faced in the opening round is questionable.
Bishop Miege had a similar game: The Stags never trailed against Wichita East. Red Demons head coach Tony Starnes, who has coached some junior-college level basketball, said Grill is a mid-major level college player, but Bishop Miege has junior Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who is being recruited by Div. 1 college basketball programs like Kansas, according to ESPN.
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber was in United Wireless Arena Thursday and was seen talking to Robinson-Earl after the game.
However Robinson-Earl was not the high-scorer for his team against Bishop Miege, being bested by Ezekial Lopes.
That means tonight’s game will feature what one former-collegiate coach has called a college-level player against a taller player being recruited by major Div. 1 schools, and another player in Lopes who started the tournament playing like it.
The question remains: Which of these two teams is actually better than the other?
That question will almost certainly get answered tonight.
Friday's games, in order from earliest-starting to latest:
- Manhattan versus Leavenworth at 1 p.m.
- Hays versus Wichita Heights at 2:30 p.m.
- Dodge City versus Wichita East at 6 p.m.
- Maize versus Bishop Miege at 7:30 p.m.