Going into this year’s edition of The Basketball Tournament, few, if any Boeheim’s Army fans knew who Grant Riller was. But tonight, they were chanting his name.
The College of Charleston product scored 29 points, including the game winning three-pointer, in a 69-54 win for Boeheim’s Army over Blue Collar U, the reigning TBT champions.
It isn’t necessarily Riller’s intention to take over Boeheim’s Army.
“I just wanted to come in and be myself,” Riller said. “They (Boeheim’s Army) have been a great team before I even got here, so I just wanted to come in and play my role.”
Well, Riller’s role is clearly to score, and do that efficiently. He’s scored the second most points in the tournament (76) on the sixth highest efficiency ( 64.6% FG).
Riller’s best stretch of the tournament came when Boeheim’s Army needed it most. BA trailed BCU by as many as 14 points in the first half, but that didn’t last for long. In the second quarter, Riller led his squad on a 15-0 run, scoring 12 of those points himself. After that, Boeheim’s Army never looked back.
While Riller led the way in the win over Blue Collar U, he didn’t get it done alone. BA’s head coach Ryan Blackwell made sure his lead guard had help.
“We’ve got 11 guys for a reason,” Blackwell said. “We’ve got a full team, and every single guy that went in did a good job.”
So who were some other key members of Boeheim’s Army’s win?
The forward duo of Jamil WIlson and Chris McCullough also shined. Each was just shy of a double-double. Wilson posted a line of nine points and 12 rebounds, while also adding two blocks and a steal on the other end. McCullough added 10 points and nine boards.
The Man in the Middle
Rakeem Christmas didn’t post any eye-popping stats. He scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked a solid three shots. However, his presence was so much more important than that.
Christmas orchestrated the many defenses that Boeheim’s Army played. The teams started in man, then switched to a zone, but had to pick up matchups depending on the situation. Every time, Christmas led the way, pressuring shots and forcing bad passes. Blue Collar U shot just 27.1% from the field, and the BA big man was a big reason for that.
Boeheim’s Army now moves onto the quarterfinals. The team travels down to West Virginia to take on the winner of Herd That (Marshall alumni) and Sideline Cancer.
The quarterfinal game is on Sunday at 4:00 pm, televised on ESPN2. Make sure to follow @OrangeFizz on Twitter for updates.