July 23, 2009

BLOG VEGAS: Mustangs advance to Round of 32

LAS VEGAS - SpartanMag.com associate editor Paul Konyndyk reports from the adidas Super 64 tournament that the Michigan Mustangs fell to 0-2 in super pool play with a 77-68 loss to The Playaz (Pennsylvania) Basketball Club at Rancho High School.

The Mustangs lost on Wednesday night to Team Philly.

Despite the losses, the Mustangs - as a member of the adidas super pool - have an automatic berth in the round of 32 for the knockout round, which begins tomorrow. The Mustangs will have one more game in super pool action later tonight.

Konyndyk reports that MSU commitment Keith Appling scored 23 points. Future Spartans Alex Gauna and Russell Byrd had 2 and 3 points respectively.

“In the first half, Keith was really looking to distribute and ended up with five assists for the game,” Konyndyk said. “Byrd had some good-looking shot and some open looks but they just weren’t falling.”

Byrd, of Fort Wayne, Ind., joined the Mustangs earlier this month after playing the earlier part of the AAU season with Spiece Indy Heat.

“Mustangs coach Norm Oden said Byrd has been practicing real well with them,” Konyndyk said. “He said it’s just a matter of getting the chemistry and familiarity down, knowing who to pass to and when not to pass. He said that hurt them a little bit last night.”

For instance, Konyndyk said there were occasions when Byrd would pass up an open shot in order to pass the ball to role playing banger Matt Kaminiecki.

“But Byrd didn’t pass up any shots in the game today against Playaz,” Konyndyk said. “Norm got through to him and he took some good shots. They just need to fall. He did hit a big 3-pointer that cut the lead to 5 points in the second half. I think the Mustangs will be all right. The Playaz is one of the best teams I’ve seen all summer.”

In other game notes:

MSU recruting target Jon Horford scored 12 points ... Detrot Pershing wing Juwan Howard Jr. scored 18 points. His father, Juwan Sr., was in attendance ... Horford’s older brother, Al Horford of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, paid to put up the Mustangs at The Luxur. The elder Horford, a Mustangs alum, is flying into Las Vegas tonight to watch action ... MSU associate head coach Mark Montgomery is in Las Vegas, scouting for the Spartans. Tom Izzo is due to be in town from Wednesday's stop in Kansas City, shortly ... Kalamazoo Central’s Devin Oliver struggled with costly turnovers in the loss to Playaz.

Konyndyk and SpartanMag.com video journalist Rico Beard are now headed to Las Vegas Foothills High School to watch Trey Zeigler and Team Detroit in action.

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