Fans came out in droves once again to the Omaha Sports Academy for week two of the Summer League season. As it was last Thursday, once again the league had a lot of competitive games that came down to the wire.
If you’ve ever been to summer league games, you know that the barrier between players and spectators is essentially non-existent. As the over 200 fans in attendance can attest, last night was another great opportunity to see the players up close and personal, and to interact with them. Sometimes, being that close can be off-putting; when you have Kenny Lawson, Greg Echenique and Brody Deren standing behind you for ten minutes conversing, you kind of feel dwarfed — even more so with my 8-year old in tow.
Here is a recap of the night’s action in the Omaha Metro Summer League. Note: Scoring leaders will be added later today when we receive them from the league statistician.
EQ School of Hair Design–79, ABIDE Ministries–78
EQ School of Hair Design once again walked away with Game of the Week honors, as this one came down to the wire. Wayne Runnels was active again, providing a scoring and rebounding punch, and got some redemption after last week’s loss against State Farm by making plays down the stretch.
Darryl Ashford joined ABIDE Ministries this week in the second half (after arriving from class), and he hit a three pointer to tie the game at 78 with a little over a minute to go. As both teams worked to get a final shot, it came down to a Runnels rebound and a foul called with one second remaining. Runnels hit the first free throw to give his team the lead, and when the second clanged off the rim (which may or may not have been intentional), the clock expired and EQ had the win. Last week, Runnels had two opportunities for putbacks at the end of overtime but came up short, so it was impressive to see him bounce back and make the plays to win this week.
Shanks Law Firm–96, Narmi Group–89
With every available seat taken on Court 2 for this game that featured several current Creighton players, fans crowded around the baselines to watch. And what did the crowd witness? The Will Artino Show. Three or four times, Artino completely took over the game on both ends of the floor. He had impressive power dunks. He hit contested jump shots from 15 feet out. He came up with steals on defense. Generally, he seemed to be playing his tail off, and showcasing wing skills in a forward’s frame.
I know summer league games are not necessarily the best thing to gauge players by, but between this week and last week I’m finding it very hard to believe Artino couldn’t help this team right away — and that the rumored redshirt might not be the sure thing some think it is. While redshirting may be a good idea in some respects so he can build up his body, at the same time you wonder how many players in the Valley will be able to matchup with him if he is playing at the power forward or even small forward position.
Kenny Lawson and Jahenns Manigat both had standout performances for Narmi Group. Although it appears he’s better suited to play the off-guard, Manigat will definitely have an opportunity to back up Antoine Young with his quickness and ability to make plays, and continues to show flashes that remind fans of Johnny Mathies.
Heartland Properties–84, Go Gettaz–78
Making his first appearance in summer league this year, former Bluejay Justin Carter was in Omaha visiting for the day and joined Heartland Properties along with current Jays Ethan Wragge and Josh Jones. Their opponents were Rodney Buford and the Go Gettaz team. Having Carter on the court definitely brought some leadership to Heartland as the team was always talking on defense, something you rarely see in these pickup-style summer games.
Jones showed off his mad dribbling skills throughout the game, bringing energy and enthusiasm to the floor. Wragge struggled early with his 3-point shooting, but came on strong towards the end. The game was back and forth throughout before Heartland started pulling away at the end to get the 6 point victory.
Barleys–87, State Farm–81
In anticipation of Greg Echenique making his local debut, fans packed in for this one, at least initially. Greg was expected to play Thursday night, but was not there at the start of the game. Unfortunately for State Farm, that created a large mismatch against a Barley’s team stocked full of veteran and pro players.
State Farm was down 17-3 early and with no indication Greg would be available a lot of fans, including myself, migrated to one of the other games. However, State Farm made a furious comeback and got within one point with a couple minutes remaining. Their comeback bid fell short, however, as Barley’s moved to 3-0 to continue dominating the league at this point. Echenique did arrive around halftime after class, but because he did not have time to warm up, he didn’t play this week. He told WBR that he fully intends to play next week.
McGinn Law–76, UNO Alumni–71
This game was competitive throughout, but Ryan Anderson and crew did not give away the lead late and held on to win and go to 3-0.
Icehouse-88, Bellevue Alumni–79
This one was intense with a couple scuffles, jawing with the referees and physical play. The game was close the whole way as Icehouse pulled away in the final minute with the 9 point victory.
The final score does not give this game justice as Bellevue dominated this game from start to finish, at times up by more than 20 points. Bellevue easily walked away with this one giving UNO their first blemish of the summer league season.