PROVIDENCE, R.I. -– According to Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd, 7-foot center Steven Adams was quite ill when the Crusaders played Canarias Basketball Academy Friday in the 14th annual National Prep School Invitational at Rhode Island College.
“He’s wrestling with the flu,” Hurd said after the Crusaders prevailed, 89-70. “He’s doing his best to fight through it and wrestle with it a little bit. You’re getting him in spurts. He’s able to gut it out a little bit at a time and then he wants to take a seat for a few minutes.
“Twenty-four hours ago he was throwing up everywhere. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of mitigating it.”
Just ask the Canarias players.
Adams, a transplant from New Zealand who’s already committed to Pittsburgh, scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots in only 26 minutes (tournament games last 40 minutes). As a result, he was named the game’s MVP.
But that being said, Adams wasn’t using his illness as a reason why he didn’t play better.
“Not at all,” Adams responded when asked how the flu affected his play. “It’s not an excuse. I chose to suit up, so there isn’t a reason to blame it on the sickness.”
Sick or not, Adams still connected on 9-of-12 shots and committed only two turnovers.
And he was at his best during a 14-0 run late in the first half which enabled the Crusaders (18-5) to expand their lead to 43-26.
Myles Davis led Notre Dame with 21 points, burying 6-of-10 three-point shots, while Adonis Filer added 13 and Mandell Thomas 12.
Davis drained a trio of treys in the first half as Notre Dame got off to a fast start.
Simon Krajkovic paced Canarias (12-2) with 13 points while 7-1 center Boris Borjanovsky added 12 and grabbed nine rebounds.
Adams, who enrolled at Notre Dame for the second semester, has had to adjust not only to a different culture but also to a different style of basketball – which, in his opinion, is the more difficult adjustment he’s had to make.
“Pace...the game is played by fast people,” Adams said. “Stamina has been a problem. I got really unfit over the (holiday) break. I’m quite disappointed in myself.”
Unfit or not, Adams applied an exclamation point to his performance when he slammed down a monster jam to finish a fast break with just under four minutes left on the clock.
Hurd disappointed: After Notre Dame built that 43-26 lead, it let Canarias back into contention.
The team from the Canary Islands went on an 11-1 run in the last 2:46 with Aleks Rostov scoring four points and pulled within 44-37 at intermission.
“We’re playing three in three days down here and for whatever reason I think they looked down there and saw their size and thought they weren’t going to be able to play with us,” Hurd said. “It took as a little while to respect them. That’s something that’s a character flaw on our part and we have to fix it.
“Overall, I wasn’t tremendously happy with the effort but I think we’ll bounce back tomorrow and do it the right way.”
Notre Dame plays La Jolla Prep at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Then, Hurd launched into specifics about the Crusaders’ play.
“The trademark of what we’ve been dable to do so far has been that we are a tremendously unselfish team,” Hurd said. “I think that little bit of selfish play reared its ugly head today. We’ll fix that tonight and we’ll get out there.
“These guys enjoy being around each other. They enjoy each other’s success. For whatever reason, we broke that for 20 or 30 minutes today. Fortunately, we’re a talented bunch of guys and at the end of the day we were able to overcome that.”
Tall task for Adams: If nothing else, Hurd expressed sympathy for Adams who’s been placed in a difficult situation -– especially since he’s been greeted with a ton of hype.
“I think it’s unfair to take a kid all the way around the world and pluck him on a team in the middle of December or January and say ‘Go do it.’
“But, all things considered I think he’s handled it really well and our guys have handled it really well. He’s trying to understand the pace and speed with which we play here in the United States. He’s willing to do whatever it’s going to take.
“The funny thing about prep school basketball is, yes we want to be successful, but you’re going to be able qualify and quantify our success with what he does eight months from now at Pitt,” Hurd continued. “Did he understand what we were doing? Did he understand what we were saying? And I think that he does.”