Friday, October 17, 2008

Walker Impresses at First Night

Jerome Dyson was the slam-dunk champion, Craig Austrie and Maya Moore won the two-ball title and freshman Kemba Walker was the best player on the floor in a 10-minute scrimmage at Friday's "First Night" festivities.

Austrie and Moore topped Gavin Edwards and Caroline Doty in the two-ball finals by a score of 24-12. At one point, the Austrie-Moore duo (certainly the favorites coming in) nailed eight straight 3-pointers.

After a couple of women's players put down (and missed) a few pedestrian dunks in what was billed as the first-ever UConn women's dunk contest, the real action began as Edwards, Walker and Dyson squared off for the men's dunk title.

Edwards started off with a nifty reverse jam, but then Walker, a 6-foot-1 guard, electrified the crowd with a two-handed, reverse coming from behind the backboard.

Dyson followed with a high-flying slam in which he appeared at about eye-level with the rim.

The contestants spent the next few minutes missing on some fancy jams, but Dyson put a thunderous end to the fun when he took a pass off the side of the backboard from A.J. Price, caught the ball in mid-air and threw down a dunk to win the contest.

(For what it's worth, yours truly had predicted Dyson would win. Jim Calhoun thought Walker would win it).

The scrimmage followed, and let's just say the fellas looked a bit rusty. The Blue Team of Walker, Austrie, Dyson, Jeff Adrien, Charles Okwandu and Jonathan Mandeldove topped the White Team, 17-6.

Edwards threw home a dunk off a Price alley-oop straight off the opening tap, but it was all Blue Team after that. Walker looked particularly impressive. He took the ball in the lane, made a sweet, behind-the-back pass fake and swooped in for a layup early on, then hit a nifty fallaway jumper soon after.

Later in the game, Walker also made a nice, no-look pass to Adrien, who was fouled and made a pair of free throws.

Dyson led the Blues with five points (including a nice alley-oop dunk off an Austrie pass in the final seconds), Walker and Adrien had four each and Austrie added two.
For the White Team, Edwards had four and Donnell Beverly added two.

Hasheem Thabeet had a monster block of a Mandeldove shot. Freshman Scottie Haralson struggled mightily, missing about a half-dozen 3-point attempts. Calhoun said that Haralson has been struggling with his shot in practice lately.

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