UISSC advances, Team Esteban out of 3-on-3 tourney


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UISSC used a combination of size and touch to finish off Team Esteban in the men’s intramural 3-on-3 basketball tournament Monday night in the Field House.

Losing in straight games, 15-12, 15-13, Team Esteban is no longer in the running for a shot in the championship game on Wednesday. Both squads had lost to Omelettes earlier in the tournament, but UISSC is still poised to make it through the loser’s bracket and into the title game.

Team Esteban imitated the Orlando Magic, taking a majority of its shots from behind the arc — some coming 3 to 4 feet beyond the perimeter.

Unfortunately for Team Esteban, it failed to hit enough of those to advance.

“We probably shoot five times more 3s than 2s,” sophomore Brandon Beem said. “It works if you’re hot.”

But the team members failed to hit a good percentage from the field, going a combined 16-of-50 in the two matches. Players attributed some of the late misses to exhaustion — the squad was without a sub and running low on energy.

The UISSC hoopsters agreed. Third-year law student Nick Kron said 3-on-3 basketball is a lot like wrestling — a shorter period of playing time, but constant work.

“We’re recreational athletes,” he said. “The longer the game goes, the worse it’s going to get.”

He and his UISSC teammates used a blend of points in the paint and some outside shooting to keep Team Esteban off balance defensively. UISSC managed to drain 45 percent of its attempts, a good portion of those shots coming in the lane.

“We don’t really care who shoots,” graduate student Clark Anderson said. “And we’re pretty unselfish, which helps.”

The strategy worked well except on one particular drive and attempted lay-up that was swatted away with authority by Team Esteban’s sophomore Jordan Wells — a block LeBron James would have applauded.

That rejection was about the only thing Team Esteban could muster defensively, especially in the second game, in which UISSC opened up a big lead thanks to 8-of-11 shooting.

“They were shooting pretty good,” Beem said. “They’re a fast team.”

Team Esteban climbed back into the game on the shooting of Wells and sophomore Jordan Cashatt, then reverted to its earlier form and missed off the iron the rest of the way.

A lot of Team Esteban’s poor shooting can be linked to the pressure defense UISSC employed. The squad faced a stifling man-to-man defense that never allowed Team Esteban players inside for easy baskets.

“We play defense more than most teams in this style of play,” Kron said.

If battle-tested UISSC can keep up its mixture of in-your-face defense and versatile offense, it has a chance to play for the championship. Team members believe their experience gives them the advantage.

“I think we know each other’s tendencies by now,” Kron said. “We’ve played intramurals together for a long time.”

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