The-BALL (or Basketball Alumni Legends League) is a brand-new East Coast summer league for former college basketball stars. Fans who show up to the games get to see famous alumni from local colleges in more intimate arenas. Many of the American players spend the regular season in the D-League or overseas, but this provides them with an additional source of income during the off-season and a chance to get seen by scouts in person or on a local TV network. It is also the most innovative league in the history of the sport, featuring rules such as a four-point shot, a five-second backcourt violation, two-point free throws, etc. Jon Teitel got to sit down with a number of players/coaches after each game and take a walk down memory lane. Former UNC star Marcus Ginyard made it down to DC as a member of the North Carolina Ball-Stars and talked about what it means to win an NCAA title.
At age 13 you won a national AAU title as a member of the DC Blue Devils. Which of your teammates impressed you the most (Ty Lawson/Roy Hibbert/other)? Ty and Roy were both great. Roy was already a skyscraper even back then. We also had Travis Ivey who later played nose tackle in the NFL. However, I think our best player was Eric Cole, who only locals would know about.
You decided to go to college at UNC, why did you choose the Tar Heels? I wanted to be a part of another successful program after winning three titles at Bishop O’Connell HS in Arlington, VA.
You were a defensive stopper for Roy Williams: what is your secret for playing great defense? You just need the will, heart and passion to run all over the court. There is skill involved but you have to talk to your teammates.
Your team won three straight ACC titles from 2007-2009. How were you able to be so dominant for such a long period of time? We were very hungry and set out to show the rest of the country that our team was the best. If I can vent for a second, I think that is the main issue with the current Tar Heels team, you need that mentality both on and off the court. We played teams who were nearly as skilled as we were, but we had a good mindset going into every game.
In the 2006 NCAA tourney you scored two-points in five-point loss to George Mason. How on earth were they able to come all the way back after you got out to a 16-2 lead to start the game? GMU had a tough resilient team that year, which is how they were also able to beat UConn. They shocked a lot of people but I have to give them credit: they deserved to win.
In the 2007 NCAA tourney you scored two-points in an OT loss to Georgetown after blowing a 10-point lead with six minutes to play. Where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? It was very devastating…but that loss is why we made it to the Final 4 the following year.
What are your memories of the 2008 NCAA tourney (Brandon Rush scored 25 points in win by eventual champion Kansas, who got out to a 40-12 lead in the first half)? It was a similar event but we just took it one step further. We laid an egg in the Final 4 but it served as great fuel for us the following year and was a huge reason we were able to win the title in 2009.
In 2009 you sat out most of the year with a medical redshirt after getting a stress fracture in your left foot, but got to watch your team beat Michigan State to win the title. How did it feel to win a title while recovering from your injury? It was strange because I was still part of the team, but it was hard to not be on the court for games. I still cherished my time with my teammates and tried to bring them some energy during practice. Winning the title was probably the happiest day of my life.
Take me through the 2010 NIT.
Larry Drew II scored five points including a basket with two seconds left in a two-point win over Mississippi State on the road. How on earth was he able to get a shot off over NCAA career shot-block leader Jarvis Varnado? Th
at is the million-dollar question: he just found a window to put it in.
You were one of three Tar Heels with double-digit rebounds in a one-point OT win over Rhode Island. How crucial is rebounding to winning games in March? Rebounding is one of the biggest things we focused on in every game. Michigan State has the same focus, which is a reflection of the greatness of coaches like Roy Williams, Tom Izzo.
You had three steals in a loss to Dayton in the title game, did you consider your tourney run to be a success (getting to the title game), or a failure (due to not winning it all), or something in between? I viewed it as a huge failure when we failed to make the NCAA tourney in the first place, and then we were unable to finish the job in the NIT. Nobody likes to lose their final college game.
You currently play pro basketball in Poland. What is the biggest difference between college basketball and pro basketball, and what do you hope to do in the future? Europe is a whole other world. The fans and travel are so different over there than they are here in the US. I am blessed to be able to make a living playing basketball and I just want to get better every year.