Three Takeaways From Day One Of The Barclays Center Classic
The Barclays Center Classic started on Friday with a pair of games on campus at LIU-Brooklyn.
The sixth-annual Barclays Center Classic tipped off on Friday as four teams met in early season matchups. Minnesota, UMass, Alabama, and BYU all converged on Brooklyn for two days of basketball.
This year’s Barclays Center Classic was different as the first day of games were played on the campus of LIU-Brooklyn. With the Barclays Center booked for both a Nets game and the Preseason NIT on Friday, it was determined that games would occur at the smaller gym. More on this decision a little later. Let’s begin by looking at the son of embattled former coach Rick Pitino and his Golden Gophers.
Minnesota Could Be Surprise Team In The Big Ten
There are many similarities to Richard Pitino’s Minnesota team and the teams that his father coached at Providence, Kentucky and most recently Louisville. An up-tempo offense and continuous pressure defense are becoming a hallmark of Minnesota basketball, and it was on full display on Friday. The Golden Gophers defeated UMass 69-51 in a game that was not as close as the score showed.
Minnesota dominated all facets of the game to move to 6-0 on the season. With many teams losing this week, it is no doubt that Minnesota will move up from number 14 ranking in the AP poll. Besides teams like Northwestern and Michigan State, Minnesota is at the top of the Big Ten conference that is going through change and upheaval. On a national level, the Golden Gophers continue to impress in their non-conference schedule. A year older and wiser from last season’s upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, there’s no doubt that the Golden Gophers can make a run in March.
Colin Sexton Is The Least Talked About Freshman In College Basketball
Friday’s second game featured Alabama and BYU. Former Nets coach Avery Johnson has been at the helm of the Crimson Tide for three seasons. Johnson may have finally picked up a complete player in freshman Colin Sexton. A 2017 McDonald’s All-American, Sexton came into play averaging over 25 points a game in his first four collegiate games. As with most freshmen athletes, mistakes were to be made, and some bad shots were taken. For the most part, it seems as if Sexton is the least discussed newcomer in college basketball this season.
Alabama under Johnson has steadily improved going from eight SEC wins in 2015-2016 to 10 SEC wins in 2016-2017. While they do have five freshmen including Sexton, Alabama also features sophomore forward Dazon Ingram and junior Donta Hall. They seem to have the right mix of experience and youth. With the addition of the dynamic Saxton, it appears that Avery Johnson may have a winner in Tuscaloosa in a sport other than football.
Smaller Arenas Could Be Start Of Something For Non-Conference Tournaments
With the move to the campus of LIU-Brooklyn, many began questioning the validity of the Barclays Center Classic. With attendance an issue at the Legends Classic earlier this week, Day One of the Barclays Center Classic took place in a smaller venue. The differentce…it felt like a college basketball game and not a scrimmage taking place in a big arena.
For Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, it was an odd situation. The Nets are in town and the Preseason NIT is taking place in your main home. The decision to move forward with this showcase was probably not an easy one, but it was the right decision. The problem with early season showcases/tournaments is that if a major program does not play, fans will not show up. Having games at smaller local arenas instead of massive arenas adds to the atmosphere of college basketball. It would not be surprising if other tournaments look at this situation and do the same thing going forward.