Mid-Major Morning Mashups: Portsmouth Invitational Day 1 Edition

The opening day of the Portsmouth Invitational rarely yields what would be classified as efficient basketball. The combination of tired legs from a long season, nerves from playing in front of representatives of 30 NBA teams and just a lack of familiarity with new teammates, produced basketball that while far from poor, certainly didn't speak to the talent level on the floor.

Only one of the four teams that played last night managed to shoot better than 45% from the floor and there were hardly any head turning performances, though a handful of mid-major prospects managed to produce effectively. Saint Mary's Mickey McConnell was easily the top facilitator of the day, doling out 12 assists in leading Portsmouth Partnership to an 80-75 win over Norfolk Sports Club. In this same contest Rhode Island's Delroy James netted 15 points on a solid 7-of-14 shooting effort, but noted highlight reel staple Randy Culpepper was limited to just 5 points.

In the nightcap Vlad Moldoveanu from American and Old Dominion's Frank Hassell helped pace K&D Rounds Landscaping to an opening 78-74 victory facing Sales System LTD. Moldoveanu scored 13 points, while Hassell had a mixed performance, shooting just 3-of-12 from the floor but pulling down 15 rebounds, the high for the day. George Mason product Cam Long and Nicholls State's Anatoly Bose each reached double figures in scoring for the losing team.

Ed Smith of the Virginian-Pilot: "Randy Culpepper left the Cradock Recreation Center on Wednesday morning a bit less of an NBA prospect than when he walked in an hour earlier. Three inches less. "I think the measuring thing is broke," Culpepper, a point guard from Texas El-Paso, said with a grin. "Because it said I'm like 5-10, and I'm really 6-1." Culpepper stood in his socks, having just finished a battery of physical tests being given to the 64 pro hopefuls in town this week for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. He had blown through a 25-yard sprint, back-pedaled and slide-stepped through an agility drill and soared high in a test of vertical leaping ability. Then it came time for him to slip off his sneakers and find out how large the gap was between his media guide height and his actual stature. "It's fine," he said. "I'm a small guy, but I'm going to play like I'm 6-6 or 6-7, so you're not going to be able to tell the difference." Measurables, after all, are not everything. But at the PIT they are becoming a bigger part of the evaluation process. For the second year, the tournament is using BAM Testing, a Seattle-based company, to provide state-of-the-art data for that is passed along primarily to NBA teams. It is a way of adding objectivity to the old, subjective eye-ball test."

Melinda Waldrop of the Daily Press: "Frank Hassell had six points and 15 rebounds in his Portsmouth Invitational Tournament debut on Wednesday night, helping his K&D Rounds Landscaping team to a 78-74 win against a Sales System Ltd. squad that featured Richmond's Kevin Anderson and George Mason's Cam Long.
Hassell's assessment of his performance? "Horrible," said Old Dominion's 6-9, 260-pound forward, who averaged 15.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in his senior season as the Monarchs went 27-7. "Defensively I got scored on a lot. (On offense), I got the ball, I just couldn't make the shots like I wanted. I've got to get used to playing (against) length. ... I was getting the shots I wanted, but I was getting them smacked." Hassell, who said he hasn't played much since the Monarchs' season ended with a 60-58 loss to eventual national runner-up Butler in the first round of the NCAA tournament, said he also got a little winded in the first half, then acknowledged: "But I'm my biggest critic."

Ron Chimelis of The Republican: "Anthony Gurley saw this day coming at least a year ago, when he declared for the NBA Draft but knew his pro days were down the road. "It helped me a lot. It gave me an idea of what I had to work on,'' the University of Massachusetts senior said Wednesday after hearing he was a late addition to the Portsmouth Invitational in Portsmouth, Va. The tournament serves as a rookie camp for prospective NBA candidates. Last year, Gurley declared for the draft as a junior. The tactic allowed him to try out for pro teams with the option of re-entering the college game, as long as he did not hire an agent. The Boston Celtics gave a workout to Gurley, a 6-foot-3 guard who played high school ball at Newton North. Then he pulled out of the draft pool and returned to UMass."

Sean Brennan of the New York Daily News: "Manhattan's month-long search for a replacement for Barry Rohrssen appears to be at an end as the Jaspers are expected to announce LIU coach Jim Ferry as their new head man either today or tomorrow. Ferry, who guided the Blackbirds to a 27-6 record this year - including a 16-2 mark in the Northeast Conference - was on campus Tuesday to interview for the job. Neither Ferry nor anyone at Manhattan would return calls seeking comment, but one outside source told The News it's Ferry's job if he wants it, it's just a matter of dotting the i's and crossing the t's before it becomes official. "I didn't get it from the horses mouth, but I got it from the horse in the next stall," the source said. Considering who the Jaspers had interviewed for the job, Ferry makes the most sense. The knock on Rohrssen was that he was not a good game coach having never been a head coach at any level prior to his arrival in Riverdale. But that same thing could be said for all the candidates interviewed at Manhattan - with the exception of Bob Walsh, the head coach at Division III Rhode Island College - in that Louisville assistant Steve Masiello, Rutgers assistant Van Macon and Manhattan assistant coach Scott Padgett all lacked head coaching experience. Ferry, who won the Jim Phelan Award in the NEC this season as Coach of the Year, would bring an exciting up-tempo style of offense to the Jaspers. His LIU team this season averaged 82.7 points a game, which was fourth nationally."

Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune: "Since being hired as Loyola's men's basketball coach, Porter Moser has been hearing about another Horizon League team. "In the last 24 hours, 10 people said we're going to Butler next year," Moser said at his introductory news conference. "I like expectations." Moser, a Naperville native who attended Benet Academy in Lisle, acknowledges it will take time to build Loyola into a contender like Horizon League power Butler, but he said the job was a "no-brainer." New athletic director Grace Calhoun praised Moser's Chicago-area ties and ability to recruit in the area as well as his Jesuit background. Moser served the last four seasons on St. Louis' staff under head coach Rick Majerus and he played at Creighton from 1986-90. He has served seven seasons as a head coach, going 105-101. At Arkansas-Little Rock (2000-03), he inherited a 4-24 team and turned it into an 18-11 squad the next season. He then took the helm at Illinois State, where he was fired in 2007 as the school went through multiple athletic director changes in his tenure."

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