In early August, Friars.com announced that Bryce Cotton was joining the Global Sports Academy Tour this summer in Europe. Around the same time the tour was getting started, LaDontae Henton tweeted he was going to Europe as well, presumably to play with Bryce. From August 8th to the 16th, the two Friars did in fact make the trek to Belgium, Germany, and France to play various Euro League teams for the non-profit organization GSA in order to help “promote international goodwill and a better understanding between nations through sports”. How did they do on the court while there were in the middle of promoting goodwil? Other than some basic scores from the GSA twitter feed, Ice Cotton and LaDontae were true international men of mystery.
To get more insight on what Buckets and Ice did over there (by the way, had did I miss this nickname combination last year?!), I exchanged some emails with their head coach on the tour, Greg Manning. Greg is the current Loyola University of Maryland assistant coach, who also played there for 4 years.
Big thanks to Greg for taking the time to provide Friartown with his thoughts on how they did on the tour.
Friarblog: First of all coach, sounds like you had a successful trip with a 5-0 record. What was the competition like?
Greg Manning: We had a great group of unselfish guys which is the reason I believe e were able to go 5-0. We played two First Division team and 3 Second Division teams. The competition was pretty good. The first division teams had kid that could play at the mid major and high major level. They were big and really know how to play the game. We had to make sure we brought it each time we stepped on the court.
Friarblog: Were there any official stats recorded for Henton or Cotton? If not, what can you tell us about their playing time, role on the team etc. Any big games or moments from either that stand out?
Greg Manning: We do have stats which I have attached to the email. Both guys were tremendous for me. Our second game which we won by 2 Henton was huge. He took over down the stretch. He really showed his ability to get his own shot. I put him in high pick and rolls the last few times down the floor and he got us a bucket each time.
(Ed. note: including stats)
LaDontae Henton: 18.6 PPG, 4.6 RPB
Bryce Cotton: 14.8 PPG, 3.8 PPG
|GSA 92, CEP Fluerus 65||18||6||2|
|GSA 78, Gent Dragons 76||20||3||4|
|GSA 113, LTV 59||16||5||4|
|GSA 115, Solingen Sharks 80||16||4||3|
|GSA 100, SJBA 87||23||5||1|
|GSA 92, CEP Fluerus 65||6||4||3|
|GSA 78, Gent Dragons 76||7||4||1|
|GSA 113, LTV 59||24||4||1|
|GSA 115, Solingen Sharks 80||19||5||2|
|GSA 100, SJBA 87||21||2||1|
Friarblog: What did you know about Henton or Cotton coming into the tour? Anything surprise you about them after working with them and seeing them play for a week?
Greg Manning: I knew more about Cotton then I did Henton. Coach Blaney and I are very close friends and he had Cotton going with me from day one. I knew he could really stroke it and was pretty athletic for his position. I talked with Blaney a bunch about ways to get him open looks and possible letting him play a little point to work on his handle. I was very surprised at his ability to get to the basket and finish. Henton was a last minute addition. We had a kid get hurt the night before we were to leave and I called Blaney because he mentioned that they might have two guys that would like to go. He put it really simple for me, he said “he’ll be your best player” and he was. He really reminded me of James Harden of the Thunder. He really makes the game look easy and makes a lot of tough shots which you can’t teach.
Friarblog: As a freshman last season, Henton showed an incredible knack for the ball, and the ability to score from all over the floor. What did you see from him defensively this summer?
Greg Manning: Henton was very solid on the defensive end. We played all man to man and pressed as well. He showed his ability to guard 2-4 because of his size and strength. If there was one thing he needs to work on it his lateral quickness, however he really rebounded the ball well on the defensive end and understand team defense.
Friarblog: Providence Coach Ed Cooley continually said last year that he wanted Bryce Cotton to shoot whenever he touched the ball. What did you see from Bryce from a confidence standpoint offensively? Did he show more than just being a long range set shooter?
Greg Manning: Coach Cooley is a great coach and I understand now why he gave Cotton the green light. The kid can really fill it up. Bryce was a little hesitant to let it fly the first two games. After myself and Henton told him to let it go he exploded. He was hand down a crowd favorite. In our final three games he went for 24, 19 and 21 points. Not only did he shoot the three but he finished at the rim with his athletic ability. We even put a lob play in for him which he connected on quite a few times. Tremendous scorer.
Friarblog: In a press release when Cotton was selected to join the tour, it said his role would include acting “as an ambassador and represent the United States and Providence College”. How did these young men do in your eyes in fulfilling that?
Greg Manning: Like I mentioned earlier these two guys were outstanding both on and off the court. They were no worry type of kids. I asked them to do two things before we let and that was to “play hard and have fun”. They were very well liked throughout the countries we traveled and represented both themselves and Providence Basketball in the most professional way possible. I could not have enjoyed have them one the trip more.
Friarblog: What was the best tourist moment outside of all the basketball?
Greg Manning: I think the best moment off the basketball court was the time we spent as a team traveling to each city. We were fortunate enough to see places like Brugge, Brussels, Mechelen, Amsterdam, and a few cities in Germany. I have never seen a group of 11 guys come together as one quicker. Spending time with the players and getting to know one another was really special. I know a lot of them are staying in touch and looking forward to trying to get to each other’s games if schedules permit. Myself and our two players are going to try to get down to see Henton and Cotton when you guys play at Georgetown.
Thanks Greg, good luck this season at Loyola!