CHICAGO -- West center Cameron Ridley couldn’t remember a time when he had to play the role of “garbage man,” cleaning up misses and finishing with thunderous dunks after collecting loose balls.
But Wednesday night during the West’s narrow 106-102 win in the McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center, Ridley and the rest of his frontcourt mates were little more than role players in the guard-dominated all-star game.
“Yeah, I wasn’t really OK with that either,” said Ridley, the Bush (Richmond, Texas) big man who led all post players with 12 points. “I definitely wanted the ball more, but I already knew coming into this game what was gonna happen. That’s just how it is in these games.”
West point guards Marcus Paige and Yogi Ferrell (who combined for 15 assists) tried to feed the post to keep the big men happy, but for the most part, guys like DaJuan Coleman, Isaiah Austin and Shaq Goodwin were forced to settle for 15-foot jump shots and sometimes even deep 3-pointers.
“Maaan, I looked at that roster and already knew I’d be pulling 3s for shots,” said Goodwin, a Southwest DeKalb (Ga.) power forward who scored eight points and missed two 3-pointers for the West in the win. “I haven’t been a garbage man since my freshman year, so this was new to me. But I’ll probably have to be a garbage man next year at Memphis, so I’d better get used to it.”
Added Ridley: “At least we won. … Then again, that didn’t help. They should’ve passed the ball more.”
Devonta Pollard had to sit out of the McDonald’s All-American Game after a collision in Tuesday’s practice left him with a mild concussion.
Pollard, who suited up for the West, got hit in the head during a skirmish for the ball.
“It’s unfortunate because, obviously, I really wanted to play,” said Pollard, a small forward at Kemper County (DeKalb, Miss.). “But I’m glad to have been able to experience everything else. I’m still an All-American.”
Trayvon Martin Tribute
On Wednesday afternoon before the game, members of the West squad slipped their gray McDonald’s All-American hoodies over their heads and gathered for a picture as a tribute to Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was killed in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26.
Martin wore a similar hoodie the night he was killed.
“We just wanted to do something to salute Trayvon,” said West shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who scored 18 points in the win. “This situation has affected the entire country so we wanted to do our part and show everyone that we care about what happened, too. It’s just a sad situation.”
Under the Weather
A handful of All-Americans woke up on game day feeling a bit under the weather.
“It’s the change in weather here in the Chi,” said Parker, who scored 10 points in the loss. “It got a lot of us, but we weren’t gonna let anything stop us from playing in this game. No way.”