There's nothing like the sound of a 6'8" forward dunking over his defender on a breakaway rim in the summer.
The scattered numbers in attendance last Tuesday to watch a night of Sonny Hill basketball at Temple's McGonigle Hall were treated to just that, courtesy of Penn junior Ugonna Onyekwe.
Onyekwe and his summer league team -- WDAS Radio -- easily defeated Pep Boys, despite having no available subs on the bench while Pep Boys had five.
Playing all 40 minutes, Onyekwe had very strong numbers, putting together 13 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. He was 3-for-3 from the field, including his only three point attempt, and made all six shots from the free throw line.
Onyekwe's numbers were actually hampered by the fact that he didn't get very many touches on the ball.
"Maybe it was the way the other team was playing defense," Onyekwe said of his limited opportunities on offense. "Some other guys got open shots. But sometimes that's how it works out in summer league. You can't always get as many touches as you like."
On the defensive end -- much to the dismay of Pep Boys -- the native of London, England, got as many touches as he wanted, rejecting -- in a manner comparable only to Philadelphia 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo -- anyone and everyone who came into the paint.
"If anything, you can always work on your defense, especially in summer league," Onyekwe said of his game-high five blocks. "I'm just trying to do the little things like run the floor and rebound. Even if you don't get touches, working on that stuff will help you later on."
Onyekwe was limited to just one field goal in the first half -- the dunk in the opening two minutes that drew a huge reaction from the crowd.
Pep Boys adjusted their defense accordingly, putting a number of different defenders on Onyekwe throughout the half, and even triple-teaming him a couple of times.
Carrying the offensive burden for WDAS was its 1-2 punch in the backcourt. A dribble penetration by one would always result in a kickout to the other for the open jumper.
Pep Boys matched WDAS in the first half on the strength of its three-point shooting. Pep Boys even took a lead into the break, 27-26.
Another contributing factor to Pep Boys' success in the first half was a lack of energy on the part of WDAS.
"I think we came out, but we could have hustled a bit more and got a bit more into the game," Onyekwe said. "It was just one of those nights, I guess."
The second half, however, was all WDAS, as Pep Boys could not avoid turnover after turnover. Onyekwe showed promises of athleticism, including a play when he flew in from nowhere to tap in a missed 16 footer with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Onyekwe's game did struggle on a few counts, however. He was the victim of a couple of full-court traps, and was visibly disappointed after missing two opportunities at a three-point play. Nonetheless, Onyekwe continues to develop his skills this summer.
"I'm trying to improve on every aspect of the game," Onyekwe said, "including the mental aspects of my skills and just trying to build on everything."
Also competing in the Hank Gathers Memorial College League of Sonny Hill is Onyekwe's Quakers teammate and Penn sophomore Charlie Copp, who plays for Gladys Rodgers.
Copp was excited to participate in the Sonny Hill League for the second straight year and get a chance to improve his skills.
"It's the best competition around here," Copp said of the league. "I'm just trying to get a lot stronger, and improve my decision making [this summer] -- not turn over the ball, stuff like that."
Copp's team played in Temple's Gym 145 last Tuesday, located in the back of Pearson Hall.
There it faced Marc Jackson, and eked out a 71-69 sudden death victory.
"We started out a little slow, but we were playing better towards the end of the game," Copp said afterwards. "We picked up our defense."
The six-foot guard manned the point for Gladys Rodgers for most of the game, dishing out a number of great passes throughout the contest.
"I was just trying to play smart and help the team out as much as I can," Copp said.
Helping the team out including 3-of-5 shooting from downtown, where he is most comfortable.
"At Penn, three pointers are a big part of what I do," Copp said. "I would like to penetrate and shoot other shots a little more, I just didn't get around to it tonight. I didn't want to force things in a tight game."
And the game was tight throughout, with neither team building a lead bigger than five in the first half. Both teams ran set plays and were connecting with their hook shots in the paint as well as their open three-point attempts.
Taking a five-point lead out of the break, Marc Jackson began to pull away in the second half of play as Gladys Rodgers failed to keep its opponents from getting second chance points.
Marc Jackson's lead expanded to double-digits before Gladys Rodgers came back with its transition game to keep it close.
With 45 seconds left on the clock, Marc Jackson held a 69-64 lead. A three-pointer by the two-guard from Gladys Rodgers made it a one-possession game, and a steal and a jumper tied it up.
With sudden death rules in effect, the first basket of overtime wins. And last Tuesday, Gladys Rodgers came up with that crucial hoop.
And while playing in the summer league is not the same as competing on Penn's home court, it's still basketball.
"I just have to wait and see what happens when I get into the Palestra," Copp said. "There's a lot of difference between those games and these games, but I have to start somewhere."Comments powered by Disqus
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