Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Jimmy V Classic: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City -­ The Jimmy V Classic, an annual event in Madison Square Garden, is a true classic on several counts. We remember the life and legacy of the late Jim Valvano. Has it been over two decades since his passing? We also support a worthy cause of cancer research attempting to end this dreadful disease. The event also features an attractive doubleheader.

The edition in the just-completed V saw West Virginia face Virginia, while Maryland went up against UConn. These four would comprise a very formidable and attractive early-season tournament. Safe to say with virtually no debate, this doubleheader would do a March regional Sweet 16 meeting very well. Both of these hotly contested affairs came with a roundball lesson.

Tony Bennett, the Virginia coach, is in demand on the clinic circuit to discuss the pack line defense. In Virginia’s 70­-54 victory over West Virginia, the defense helped but the essence of the win transcended Xs and Os. Fortunate to be down six at the half, Bennett asked his team to respond and toughen up. The final score is proof the Cavaliers got the message loud and clear.

Game two reminded us of the three-point shot. It is a weapon. As with any weapon, it can be used to an advantage or ultimately turn against you. You can shoot yourself back in a game, or completely out of it. UConn trailed by 20 points at one juncture. The Huskies played catchup almost all night. Finally, the stops coincided with a hot shooting hand from three-point range. They were able to get it to a one-possession affair late. Maryland never lost the lead, regrouped, and posted a 76-­66 victory.

Two competitive games. All four coaching staffs were able to take something positive and look at what needs fixing with conference play weeks away, and a very special night to remember and support an outstanding cause.

Madison Square Garden 90 minutes before tipoff:
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins appears relaxed as he studies warmups:
A panoramic view from the Chase Bridge:
Virginia coach Tony Bennett meets the media following a satisfying comeback win:
Maryland in their pregame routine:
The view from the press box during Maryland-UConn:
The press box has seen better days following a long and enjoyable Jimmy V Classic:

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