Portsmouth, Va., April 3 -- This season was a difficult one for Arkansas guard Jannero Pargo. His Razorbacks suffered through a tumultuous 14-15 season that concluded with the controversial departure of head coach Nolan Richardson, who was regarded as a state treasure when he delivered a national championship to the school in 1994.
In the opening game of the 50th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament here Wednesday evening, Pargo left his collegiate worries behind as his superb floor leadership and 18 assists led Naval Shipyard to an impressive 95-74 victory over Sales Systems. The All-SEC Third Team guard also contributed nine points, seven rebounds and four steals and seemed to control the action on both ends of the court in the first half as Naval Shipyard took a commanding 43-28 halftime lead.
Six of the eight players for Naval Shipyard scored in double figures in a fine display of unselfish basketball. The team recorded 32 assists on 40 made field goals in the game. Lubos Barton of Valparaiso scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half for Naval Shipyard, repeatedly beating the defense downcourt for driving layups. Pargo recorded 10 assists in the first half alone, converting opportunities in the halfcourt offense as well as on the fastbreak.
Andy Ellis of Texas Tech, a fine perimeter shooter for a big man, scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, connecting on all five of his field goal tries after intermission. Preston Shumpert of Syracuse (15 points), Chris Moss of West Virginia (14 points), Tony Akins of Georgia Tech (13 points, team-high nine rebounds), and Brian Brown of Ohio State (12 points, six assists) also reached double figures for Naval Shipyard.
Billy Knight of UCLA scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half for Sales Systems, but his team never mounted a serious challenge. The player who performed best in a losing cause for Sales Systems was Villanova center Brooks Sales, who tallied 18 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Sales was a consistent presence on both ends for a team that shot only 41 percent for the game and suffered 20 turnovers. Sales showed NBA scouts a mid-range jump shot and a variety of efficient post moves as well as solid defense and rebounding.
Small Backcourt Reaps Big Dividends for Portsmouth Sports Club
Western Athletic Conference First Team guard Greg Harrington of Tulsa and Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year John Linehan of Providence are far from the biggest guards competing in the PIT this year. However, the quickness and passing ability of the pair proved the decisive edge Wednesday night as the Portsmouth Sports Club broke away from a 51-51 tie midway through the second half to score a 79-68 win over Freedom Automotive.
Harrington used his penetrating ability and court vision to consistently exploit the opposing defense, leading to easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. He recorded a game-high eight assists to go along with nine points in leading the second half charge. Linehan, the pesky, pugnacious point guard that Big East opponents loved to hate for his uncompromising on-the-ball pressure, tallied five steals, nine points and six assists to help tilt the game in his team’s favor.
Freedom Automotive, which held a 40-36 halftime lead, shot just 39 percent from the field in the second half and was charged with 14 of its 24 turnovers after intermission. Lonnie Jones of Ball State scored 13 of his team-high 14 points in the first half for Freedom. Jerry Green of Cal-Irvine, Josh Davis of Wyoming, Altron Jackson of South Florida and Mario Porter of Rider contributed 10 points apiece in a losing effort, with Porter and Jones snaring eight rebounds apiece.
After a timeout near the 12-minute mark with the game tied at 51, Portsmouth Sports Club embarked on a 22-5 run, including eight points by USC forward David Bluthenthal, to take a commanding 73-56 lead with six minutes remaining. Jobey Thomas of Charlotte, who drained three three-point shots in the game, led a balanced Portsmouth Sports Club attack with 14 points. Chris Christoffersen of Oregon (11 points), Reggie Evans of Iowa (10 points, game-high 13 rebounds) and Jason Capel of North Carolina (10 points) all registered in double figures for the winners.
Thursday’s Game Schedule:
3:15 p.m. (Consolation Bracket) Sales Systems vs. Freedom Automotive
7 p.m. Beach Barton Ford vs. Riddle Acura
9 p.m. Norfolk Sports Club vs. MD Design
NOTES: Long-time NBA scouts Will Robinson of the Detroit Pistons and Jim Mitchell of the Los Angeles Clippers were honored during halftime ceremonies for their many years of service to the league scouting effort. Robinson, who coached current Washington Wizards head coach Doug Collins at Illinois State, was the first African-American head coach of a Division I team.