Plenty of intensity in Coaches vs. Cancer teams as Florida State takes title

Saint Joseph's Chris Wilson and Notre Dame's Eric

Saint Joseph's Chris Wilson and Notre Dame's Eric Atkins leap for a passed ball in the second half of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic basketball game at the Barclays Center in New York. (Nov. 16, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Travel deals

For those coaches who became unstuck in time at the weekend's Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheaders at Barclays Center: Yes, this is just the beginning of the season.

After St. Joseph's scrapped through an energetic overtime victory over No. 20 Notre Dame at midnight Friday, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli marveled, "That was a November game? Sure seemed like more that that."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey concurred. "What an unbelievable November game," he said.

Saturday night, the theme continued through another earnestly played twin bill, with Florida State (3-1) handing St. Joseph's (2-1) a 73-66 loss after Notre Dame (3-1) wore down Brigham Young (2-2) in the consolation game, 78-68.

Junior Okaro White, who lived in Brooklyn as a small child, scored 16 points to lead Florida State, which had four players in double figures.

Late-season polish was missing at times, and especially a postseason vibe in the stands. The two-day event was so sparsely attended that local high school all-star bands were recruited for atmosphere.

But on the floor, there was vigor and grit, best summarized by St. Joseph's junior guard Langston Galloway losing a tooth in a loose-ball scramble Friday night, then making the basket that sent the game into overtime.

"I didn't really bother me," Galloway said. "I got the tooth and they tried putting it back, but it hurt too much so they stopped. Hey, we won."

What that, or any of the Brooklyn action, will mean four months from now is anybody's guess. But, meanwhile, reading of the tea leaves already is going on.

With all five starters returning from a 22-12 team and the addition of 6-10 Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman, Notre Dame continues to share high expectations with the other Brooklyn participants.

Brigham Young, 26-9 last season, is working with three returning starters, including 6-foot senior Brandon Davies, a major force on the team since he was a sophomore and brought unwanted attention when he was suspended for violating the school's code of "living a chaste and virtuous life."

Two years ago, when Brigham Young was ranked No. 3 in the nation, Davies acknowledged having consensual sex with his girlfriend and missed the rest of that season.

Also, now that sophomore Tyler Haws is back on campus after two years on a Mormon church mission in the Philippines, Brigham Young has added significant offensive firepower (22 points per game, so far).

Florida State also is deep in experience -- four starters and six regulars from a 25-10 team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament after finishing third in league play behind North Carolina and Duke. Leading scorer Michael Snaer is among the returnees.

Still, amid those three NCAA Tournament participants from last spring, the strongest early impression was left by St. Joseph's, a 20-14 NIT team last season.

Two years ago, St. Joseph's won only 11 of 33 games, when Galloway, C.J. Aiken, Ronald Roberts and Daryus Quarles were freshmen. "They were little boys," Martelli said.

No more. The 6-8 Roberts, especially, is playing grown-man basketball, and an added boost has come from Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic, who can score, pass and rebound, although he fouled out with 6:06 to play Saturday night.

However things play out, St. Joseph's is no toothless team of little boys.

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