Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Semifinals Preview

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Semifinals Preview

7:15 PM: 2. Giv3 N’ Go vs. 3. The Soldiers
On paper, this matchup is a great one. Giv3 N’ Go is deeper team (probably the deepest in the league) with weapons everywhere, particularly on offense. Defense isn’t a weakness by any means but they get into a lot of shootouts. The Soldiers started 5-0 but have come back down, splitting their last four with a pair of wins and losses. They’ll have to be on (and getting along) to hang with G&G.
Matchup to Watch: Martin Salinas vs. Paul Starr
In basketball, you have to score more points than the other team. The primary source of scoring is shooting. Two of the best shooters in UH Plano are these two: Salinas and Starr. However, Salinas has more help and doesn’t need to take --and hit-- as many shots as Starr will need to.
Prediction: Giv3 N’ Go

8:15 PM: 1. Easy Money vs. 4. Tropics
The top seeded Easy Money draw the red hot Tropics, who have won four in a row and six out of seven. The teams met in the very first week of the season and Easy Money won their first game in what would be an undefeated regular season. They’re 9-0 and the clear favorites to defend their title. The Tropics have a similar roster to Giv3 N’ Go in that they are deep. There’s a lot of talent. Consistency has been their biggest issue but if they can get the kind of performances from their core four (Adam Miller, Lorenzo Prats, Brett Williams, Chris Moore) that they’ve been receiving, they could give Easy Money far more than I’m sure they’re anticipating.
Matchup to Watch: Brandon Barkley vs. Adam Miller
Barkley and Miller are two of the best all-around players in the league. They both play both ends of the floor and stuff the stat sheet on a weekly basis. Miller has had less of his usual impact this season and the Tropics will need him to match each Barkley move to hope for the upset. Both players’ potential Achilles’ heel is their three-point jumper and in a league (and world) dominated by that shot, it could be a deal breaker. 
Prediction: Easy Money

9:30 PM: Championship!
Prediction: Easy Money over Giv3 N’ Go

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Play-In Recap

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Play-In Recap

Plano: Play-In Games by Asher Feltman
7:15: Easy Money 79, Contract Killers 52
Not expected to be a barnburner, this one simply just burned. As noted in the preview, the Contract Killers could aim for the upset by shooting a high percentage. Instead they shot 39 percent and fell behind early. Three players topped out at 12 points. They did dominate the glass, outrebounding Easy Money 41 to 28. But again, shooting. They made just three three-pointers on 22 tries (14%).
Player of the Game: Erik Adams
Playing this one without both of their Kevin’s (Emasiani and “Chip” Green), they received help in the name of Erik Adams. Adams scored 29 points to lead the team with B.J. Valentine adding 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Brandon Barkley is healthy after rolling his ankle two weeks ago. He stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Onto the next one for the league’s best team.

8:15: Giv3 N’ Go 108, Black Beatles 92
After watching the league’s top team take care of business, second-seeded Giv3 N’ Go had a job to do as well. The Contract Killers didn’t press Easy Money at all, but the Black Beatles have been incredibly good the past few weeks after starting the season a forgettable 0-5. The Beatles scored a robust 92 points but the league’s best offense belongs to Giv3 N’ Go and so does a win as well as an advance to the semi-finals. The Beatles played with just five but all contributed double digit point totals. Kobie Douglas (11-of-19 shooting, 6-of-8 from three) finished the year in peak form. Reggie Britton added 20 and the Beatles shot a clean 50 percent (15-of-30) from beyond the arc. They’re definitely a sleeper pick going into the spring season.
Player of the Game: Brett Bailey
Bailey missed a handful of games in the middle of the season but has returned with two very, very big games. He dominated the guard heavy Black Beatles and finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Fellow big Adam Bush also abused the undersized opponent (something I also noted in my preview; turns out I know what I’m talking about!) to the tune of 20 points and nine rebounds. Martin Salinas and Prince Benitez both had 14 to round out another potent night for G&G.

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Play-In Round Recap

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Play-In Round Recap

7:15 PM: Easy Money vs. Contract Killers
The undefeated Easy Money begin their quest to defend their title with a favorable matchup against the Contract Killers, who won last week in the quarterfinals to give themselves this opportunity. It would be a massive, massive upset and Easy Money has thwarted every semblance of competition so far this winter season.
Matchup to Watch: B.J. Valentine vs. Joey Gladney
Valentine struggled in the regular season finale and to make matters worse, Brandon Barkley rolled an ankle. The team runs off it’s four stud players (Valentine, Barkley, Kevin “Chip” Green and Kevin Emasiani) and losing one knocks out a large portion of their firepower. Gladney is an elite Ultimate Hoops player but hasn’t had consistent help this season. Jeremy Jones will need to match up with Valentine on both ends of the floor and the Killers’ three-point game will need to be on fire.
Prediction: Easy Money

8:15 PM: Giv3 N’ Go vs. Black Beatles
Winners in two of three, the Black Beatles have earned the same right as the Contract Killers, big upset potential. Giv3 N’ Go may not be undefeated like Easy Money, but the high-powered team has been Plano’s best offense. Paired with a stout defense, a bunch of athletes and shooters and perhaps the best inside presence of any team, they’re going to be a tough out. 
Matchup to Watch: Adam Bush vs. Kobie Douglas
Said inside presence is anchored by Adam Bush, Jordan Eppink and Brett Bailey. G&G are the deepest team in the league and it will be a tall task for the Beatles. Kobie Douglas has become a great scorer from the guard position but will need contributions of Antonio Blackmon and Kendall Britton. Byron Weaver and Reggie Britton will have the trouble of managing the paint against the bigs Bush, Eppink and Bailey. Facing (probably) the deepest team in the league won’t help out the Beatles, who roll with their five starters.
Prediction: Giv3 N’ Go

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Quarterfinal Recap

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Quarterfinal Recap

7:00: Contract Killers 68, Golden Gophers 58
The two bottom teams in Plano played for the chance to likely be throttled by Easy Money, but still get the chance to pull the colossal upset. The Gophers actually led at the half before being held to 26 points in the second half. Antonio Harris and Charles Johnson combined for 44 for the Gophers but the team shot just 41 percent.
Player of the Game: Jeremy Jones
Jones had a versatile 17 points, six assists and five rebounds. Alec Harris added 15 and all five starters scored double figures.

8:00: The Soldiers 87, MMG 84
Easily the game of the night, The Soldiers looked like a team deserving of their standing. Maxx Nakwaasah scored 25 for MMG in defeat with Brandon Stephens adding 24 and Connor Henry picking up a 15 point, 12 rebound double-double/ 
Player of the Game: Paul Starr
A second option to Starr makes The Soldiers dangerous and they got one this week. Along with Starr’s 25 points and eight assists, Terrence Thomas scored 22 with Ram Haddas contributing 17. Jesse Wilson had 14.

8:00: Black Beatles 77, Torch 70
The Beatles have won three of four now and look more like the team on paper than the team that made the real life transition. The Torch received a clutch double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds from Imtisal Agha and Kreston Martin scored 27 in defeat.
Player of the Game: Kobie Douglas
Douglas and Reggie Britton each grabbed seven rebounds. Douglas scored a team-high 23 points and Byron Weaver chipped in 16.

9:00: Tropics 82, Too Much Sauce 67
Too Much Sauce made headlines to begin the year but the competition of Ultimate Hoops Plano got the best of them as the season wore on. Despite adding reinforcements, they faltered down the stretch. On the other end, the Tropics are red hot right now, winners of four in a row. Jeremiah Hopkins got the shots he needed but didn’t shoot with his usual efficiency. He shot at 43 percent and the team at a disappointing 37 percent. 
Player of the Game: Adam Miller
A balanced Tropics attack saw them take a 19-point lead into the half. The red hot duo of Lorenzo Prats and Brett Williams combined for just 32 in a comparatively tame affair but the team coasted to a quarterfinal victory.

Next Thursday Easy Money vs Contract Killers 7pm
Giv3 N Go vs. Black Beatles 8pm

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Quarterfinal Preview

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Quarterfinal Preview

7:00 PM: Contract Killers vs. Golden Gophers
The Playoffs start with a real exciting matchup between the league’s top two teams. Sarcasm aside, the Contract Killers are much better than how they’ve been playing and the Gophers have taken (baby?) steps to improvement in the winter season. 
Matchup to Watch: Bill Ioannides vs. Deron Posey
Ioannides has been MIA for a few weeks and the Killers would greatly benefit from a solid night from one of the league’s sharpest three-point shooters. Posey hasn’t had the season he probably envisioned for himself but remains capable of a 30-point outing.
Prediction: Contract Killers
The Gophers first win of 2017 will have to wait until the spring.

8:00 PM: The Soldiers vs. MMG
The Soldiers played a strong game last week in their loss to undefeated Easy Money. They’re unpredictable but they’re also 6-2 and capable of big things. MMG topped Too Much Sauce three weeks ago to move to 3-3 but have dropped two straight. They’re proven just as unpredictable as their next opponent in their debut season.
Matchup to Watch: Jon Hunt vs. Connor Henry
It goes without saying anything The Soldiers can do runs through the shooting and leadership of Paul Starr, but Hunt’s terrifying physique and legitimate post play makes him an important factor. Henry is having a great Ultimate Hoops rookie season. Proving to be Adam Bush-like in his double-double dependability, Henry has emerged as one of Plano’s most skilled big men.
Prediction: MMG
Upset alert? MMG have been very uninspiring the past two weeks but have an overall talent edge. Whether they come together to use it will determine the outcome.

9:00 PM: Torch vs. Black Beatles
The Torch have a lot of great role players. Kreston Martin would be a scoring asset on any team. Imsitsal Agha is arguably the league’s best defender. Robert Garcia aka “Mighty Mouse” (remember Damon Stoudamire?) stuffs the stat sheet. The Beatles started 0-5 but have since won two out of three. Being new to the league, the start was rough but don’t be mistaken: there is a lot of talent on this team.
Matchup to Watch: Kreston Martin vs. Kobie Douglas
Martin can flatout fill it up. But where other scoring comes from is a weekly conundrum for the Torch. Like Martin, Douglas gets buckets. He plays at a fast pace and is always attacking the basket.
Prediction: Black Beatles
I think the Beatles have more options and picked up some wins at the end of the season that can be built on.
9:00 PM: Tropics vs. Too Much Sauce
The middle of the pack, by numerical standing, the 4-5 matchup is usually a good one in any sport. This one looks to fit the billing. The Tropics stumbled out of the gates but have won three in a row, riding high into the playoffs. Too Much Sauce has only one win in the past three and have lost their early season momentum.
Matchup to Watch: Lorenzo Prats vs. Jeremiah Hopkins
Prats and Brett Williams has been absolutely on fire the past two weeks. They’ll need to hit their three’s to move on to the semifinals. I get that Hopkins didn’t initially play for the Sauce as was recruited after a week or two, but if they want to win a championship he can’t be coming off the bench.
Prediction: Too Much Sauce
This one could absolutely go either way, but I’m picking my third “upset,” according to seeding. The Tropics have some of the league’s finer players, but Too Much Sauce go a few players deeper.

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Week Eight Recap

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Week Eight Recap

7:00: Black Beatles 89 (2-6), MMG 86 (3-5)
The Beatles ended the year with a surprise win over MMG, who finish the year with two big steps backward. The Beatles had a rough season but absolutely do not lack talent and could be building something. Max Nakwaasah hit 16-of-20 shots for MMG en route to 38 points. Connor Henry added another double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Player of the Game: Kobie Douglas
Douglas and Antonio Blackmon both shot a very efficient 10-of-17 for 27 and 24 points respectively. Douglas also added seven rebounds and the Beatles shot 63 percent.

8:00: Too Much Sauce 70 (5-3), Contract Killers 64 (2-6)
The Contract Killers have the pieces but the puzzle is all over the place right now. Despite a 28-point second half, they nearly won this one. Joey Gladney had 18 points and 12 rebounds, a crazy eight of them coming on the offensive glass. He also made 4-of-7 three pointers.
Player of the Game: Bryant Nash
The former Getting Older contingent of Nash and Jeremiah Hopkins led the way for Too Much Sauce. Nash also had eight rebounds and four assists.

8:00: Giv3 N’ Go 100 (6-2), Golden Gophers 66 (0-8)
As expected, Giv3 N’ Go roughed up the Gophers, who finish the season without a victory. Antonio Harris scored 28 points but the team struggled all night and shot just 36 percent.
Player of the Game: Brett Bailey
Bailey returned to the lineup and dominated his way to 28 points and eight rebounds. Center Adam Bush also put up a big stat line of 23 points and nine boards.

9:00: Tropics 106 (5-3), Torch 71 (3-5)
The Tropics won their third straight and did it in style, dropping a league-high 106 points for week eight. The Torch finish 3-5 and will look to play spoilers in the playoffs. The team shot just 34 percent and made only 9-of-39 three pointers. Imtisal Agha had 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Player of the Game: Lorenzo Prats
Just like last week, Prats and point guard Brett Williams shot the lights out. Prats made a ridiculous 9-of-17 three pointers, tying the Torch total all by himself. Williams flirted with a triple-double, finishing the night with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He made 10-of-14 shots.

9:00: Easy Money 76 (8-0), The Soldiers 68 (6-2)
In a matchup of the league’s premier winter teams, Easy Money won as anticipated but stumbled to the finish line. Their biggest concern right now is the health of Brandon Barkley, who rolled an ankle in the second half. Paul Starr knocked down 7-of-13 three’s to score a game-high 23 points. 
Player of the Game: Brandon Barkley
Again, Barkley’s health is priority one. Before the injury though, he was having a great night. He finished at 21 points and 14 rebounds, seven on each side of the glass. Drew Hogan also added 21 on just 12 shots, making eight.

Playoff Power Rankings and seeding
1. Easy Money
2. Giv3 N Go
3. The Soldiers
4. Tropics
5. Too Much Sauce
6. MMG
7. Torch
8. Black Beatles
9. Contract Killers
10. Golden Gophers

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Week Eight Preview

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Ultimate Hoops Plano: Winter Week Eight Preview

7:00 PM: Black Beatles (1-6) vs. MMG (3-4)
The Beatles were able to grab a win two weeks ago and it will probably be their last. At 3-4, MMG is in position to finish tied for as high as fourth or low as eighth. 
Matchup to Watch: Kobie Douglas vs. Zach Henningsen
Douglas has been the Beatles’ star this season while Henningsen has been good but could be a lot better. He can get buckets but MMG will need more than their top two options ( Maxx NakwaasahBrandon Stephens) if they want to make noise in the postseason.
Prediction: MMG

8:00 PM: Contract Killers (2-5) vs. Too Much Sauce (4-3)
After breaking out and surprising the league in the fall, the Contract Killers have had a disastrous winter. Too Much Sauce is the league’s best new entry (by record at least) and are equipped with two former Getting Older stars (Jeremiah Hopkins, Bryant Nash Jr.) to help them moving forward. A win this week grants them a top four seed with three in play.
Matchup to Watch: Joey Gladney vs. Jeramiah Hopkins
Gladney has remained a lynchpin for the Killers this season, he just needs more help. A lot more. Hop’s impact goes without saying. TMS has as many weapons as anyone in the league, maybe more. The amount of high-powered weapons, though, will determine their fate.
Prediction: Too Much Sauce

8:00 PM: Golden Gophers (0-7) vs. Giv3 N’ Go (5-2)
Last week vs. the Torch was the Gophers one and only chance for a W. Giv3 N’ Go is coming off a huge win against Too Much Sauce. Thanks to a miraculous Prince Benitez no-look, half court buzzer beater, they can lock up the three seed with a win or TMS loss. 
Matchup to Watch: Charles Johnson vs. Alex Bauer
Johnson picked up 16 points last week and will look to finish the winter with back-to-back solid games. Giv3 N’ Go’s only weakness can be the absence of offense. Bauer was brought on board to deliver a boost there and a big week eight would go a long way going into the playoffs.
Prediction: Giv3 N’ Go

9:00 PM: Tropics (4-3) vs. Torch (3-4)
The Tropics were red hot last week behind Brett Williams and Lorenzo Prats. The experienced bunch could be hitting their stride and should take easy care of the Torch.
Matchup to Watch: Kreston Martin vs. Lorenzo Prats
Coming off a 53-point game, there’s no way to not pick Kreston Martin. Prats was absolute money last week along with Williams. The Tropics will need both of them at the top of their game if they want to return to the championship game.
Prediction: Tropics

9:00 PM: The Soldiers (6-1) vs. Easy Money (7-0)
A doozy on paper to end the season is a deceptive matchup. The Soldiers have had a great year at 6-1 but somehow avoided playing the league’s three best teams until the final week. They’ve yet to go against Too Much Sauce, Giv3 N’ Go and Easy Money. I don’t expect a happy ending to a bounceback season. 8-0 is easy money.
Matchup to Watch: Terrence Thomas vs. Benny Valentine
Given a bigger offensive role this season, Thomas (and Ram Haddas) have been key contributors for The Soldiers. On the other end, Valentine is arguably the best player in the entire league and Easy Money will finish undefeated and the top seeded team.
Prediction: Easy Money

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