As the UVU basketball season rolls on, students marvel at the talent of players such as senior guard Isiah Williams. As he knocks down his signature three pointers game after game, he reminds spectators that they may not be as talented as a Division I athlete.
But that’s not stopping some UVU students from wanting to showcase what they can do on the basketball court. Dozens of students participated in intramural basketball games on Wednesday night held at the open courts in the physical education building.
The first game, a fiercely contested battle between two teams named White Magic and Cash Money, had the feel of an inner-city pick-up game. A little arguing and even a couple of scuffles helped raised the intensity of the game, while the play of White Magic’s Oliver Jensen made it entertaining. Jensen was arguably the team’s leading scorer, though there isn’t any way of knowing considering the program doesn’t record personal statistics.
White Magic went on to roll over Cash Money 69-59 and advanced to the next round of the playoffs, played that same night, where they faced a team named the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes, who went into the game undefeated, were unable to find an answer to Jensen as well.
Leading by two points with only seconds left, Jensen intercepted a lobbed pass, ruining the Hurricanes hopes of tying the game. White Magic went on to win the game 58-54. Clay Meryhew and George Larsen contributed in the win as well, shutting the Hurricanes’ offense down with their post defense.
The two games won by White Magic were the highlight of the night, though there were several other games played up until midnight.
Senior finance major Nathan Lloyd, playing for White Magic, relished the opportunity to still play competitively.
“It’s more relaxed than high school, but the competition is really good,” Lloyd said when asked how the intramural program compared to high school play. Another player from a different participating team admitted that intramurals helped him cope with not being scouted by colleges after his senior year of high school.
The majority of the participants acknowledged that they played basketball in high school. But the odds of being able to make it to the next level were historically not in their favor. A 2010 study conducted by the Houston Chronicle suggested that only 0.7 percent of high school basketball players were offered scholarships to play at the college level.
Marisa McKane, a senior anthropology major who works as a court supervisor for the program, has noticed the level of competition amongst the players.
“They get serious because it’s extremely important to them,” she said of the players. When asked why she thought they felt that way, she said “because to them, they are still all-stars.”
Jim Hunter, one of the officials covering the game concurred, saying that the intramural program featured “mostly guys who didn’t have quite what it takes to play in college” and that the program acted as a “chance for players to impress their girlfriends.”
The intramural basketball playoffs will conclude with the winner decided Dec. 7 in the physical education building. The first game will start at 6 p.m.
The program, which has been around for years, hopes to continue to draw players to participate. Though the program traditionally only runs through fall semester, an “elite” league is in the process of being formed in time for January. The league will be even more highly competitive and will provide certified referees, hopefully to keep the arguing to a minimum.
Colin McGrath can be reached at [email protected]
By COLIN MCGRATH