Monday, November 27, 2006

November 26, 2006 - Final thoughts, 2006 Paradise Jam

I am making way back to the Pacific Northwest—this return journey has been much less eventful than my trip down, but a bit more roundabout (St. Thomas to New York, then New York to Seattle), but only one stop and no flight cancellations or weather delays works for me. I thought I would just share some final thoughts and musings from my first trip to the US Virgin Islands and my first, and definitely not my last, Paradise Jam experience.

As would be expected after the tragedy on our final day of play, our moods were somber as our thoughts and prayers were with the Arizona State team and their families. We were able to finish off the tournament with three great final games though. Here are the results and recaps:

Game #1 Auburn 95 W. Michigan 86 (St. John Division)
Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner and W. Michigan’s Carrie Moore lit up the gym last night with 27 and 32 points respectively and both were named to the St. Johns Division All-Tournament Team. Moore broke a 3-game tournament scoring record with 81 points, previously held by Alana Beard (Duke). Auburn was able to overcome an 18 point first half deficit to take the game and finish third in the division.

Game #2 Marquette 73 Xavier 53 (St. John Division)
Christina Quaye was named St. Johns Division Tournament MVP and led the Golden Eagles with 16 points to claim the St. John Division championship. Marquette took the lead early in the first half and never looked back. Xavier had three players score in double figures and was led by Miranda Green with 15 points.

Game #3 W. Kentucky 74 Penn State 64 (St. Thomas Division)
W. Kentucky got 29 points and nine rebounds from Crystal Kelly in their win over Penn St. to take third place in the St. Thomas Division. Kelly was named the division’s MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Penn State’s Amanda Brown who led the Lady Lions with 24 points.

Game #4 Arizona State -- Rutgers -- (St. Thomas Division)
The Arizona State-Rutgers St. Thomas Division championship game was cancelled due to a team family tragedy within the ASU basketball program. A family member who had come to see ASU’s Aubree Johnson play in the Paradise Jam basketball tournament passed away while in St. Thomas. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Johnson and ASU families.

Final Standings:
St. John Division

1. Marquette (3-0)
2. Xavier (2-1)
3. Auburn (1-2)
4. W. Michigan (0-3)

St. Thomas Division
1. Arizona State / Rutgers (game cancelled)
2. N/A
3. W. Kentucky
4. Penn St.

All Tournament Teams
St. John Division

MVP: Christina Quaye - Marquette
DeWanna Bonner - Auburn
Krystal Ellis - Marquette
Miranda Green - Xavier
Amber Harris - Xavier
Carrie Moore - W. Michigan

St. Thomas Division
Amanda Brown- Penn St.
Essence Carson- Rutgers
Briann January - Arizona St.
Crystal Kelly- W. Kentucky
Kia Vaughn - Rutgers
Emily Westerberg - Arizona St.

Often we are reminded starkly to the realities of life and in the face of difficulty; I was able to witness the humanity of so many individuals in the aftermath of the ASU tragedy. It started with the response of the BTI staff to aid and comfort players and coaches, the gesture of Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer to keep her team at the hotel to assure that ASU would not be charged with a forfeit, Penn St. head coach Rene Portland who moved a family member from a nearby room so the family could be located together, and the hotel staff that responded quickly and professionally to whatever was needed. I’m sure that fans may have been disappointed at not being able to witness these two great teams play, but everyone showed compassionate understanding considering the circumstances.

Now that is all said and done, I am grateful to have met and worked with so many new people, reacquaint with high school buddy, and to spend time with an old friend (Hi Stephanie!). The Basketball Travelers, Inc. group is incredible and the opportunity to experience the culture of the US Virgin Islands was extraordinary. The locals I was able to meet and work with epitomize the “no worries” way of living. They were such accommodating people and we could not have done it without all the volunteer hours they so willingly put in. I think I overheard that we had about 120 volunteers—PRICELESS! Many were local high school students and I found that fundamentally, they are very similar to the teenagers on the mainland—energetic, silly and perpetually laughing.

If any of you get a chance to get to St. Thomas, I hope that you get Leo as a taxi driver at least once, Violet is your server at the hotel restaurant, get a chance to ride in an open air taxi, take the sky ride to Paradise Point and enjoy a Bushwacker at sunset, get out on a catamaran and snorkel, and that you wear lots of sunscreen and don’t get startled by the iguanas. If you’re lucky enough to come around Thanksgiving and enjoy a Paradise Jam tournament, be sure to say hello to Nels, Nancy, Craig, Jenn and Katie—they would love to see you. Au revoir from da’ islands—see you next year!


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Championship Game Cancelled Due to Team Family Tragedy

The Arizona State-Rutgers women’s basketball game scheduled for Saturday in the U.S. Virgin Islands has been cancelled. The following statement was issued by ASU women’s basketball head coach Charli Turner Thorne.

“This morning the Arizona State women’s basketball program suffered a tragic loss. A family member of senior Aubree Johnson’s passed away while in St. Thomas to see Aubree play in the Paradise Jam basketball tournament.

“The ASU basketball family extends well beyond the players and coaches listed on the roster. It includes the families and loved ones of every player, coach and support staff member in the program. When one of them encounters a loss, it is a loss that is shared by every member of the ‘family.’ With that it mind the team decided that it would be best to not go forward with playing Rutgers in tonight’s championship game.

“We would like to express our appreciation to Nels Hawkinson and the entire Paradise Jam tournament staff; head coach C. Vivian Stringer and the Rutgers women’s basketball program and the staff of the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort for all of their support, thoughts and prayers during this time.

“The entire ASU family would like to express its sincerest and heartfelt condolences to Aubree, Tom, Cyndie and the rest of the Johnson family.”

The No. 13/12 Sun Devils were scheduled to play the No. 18/18 Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the championship game of the Paradise Jam on Saturday night.

November 24, 2006 – Women’s Play, Second Day

We packed in a lot of basketball yesterday and the crowds in the Islands have been just as enthusiastic as they were with the men’s tournament earlier in the week. Here are the outcomes of yesterday’s play:

Game #1 - Marquette 65 / Auburn 61
Marquette jumped out in the first half to build an early 12 point lead, but Auburn rallied to pull within three at the half. The Golden Eagles’ Christina Quaye had another stellar game with 21 points in the win and Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner led the Tigers with 16 points.

Game #2 - Xavier 69 / W. Michigan 62
Xavier had little trouble with W. Michigan in the day’s second game using a balanced attack with four of five starters scoring in double figures. W. Michigan fought back in the second half but was not able to overcome a 19 point deficit even though Carrie Moore notched 30 points and four steals.

Game #3 – (12/13) Arizona State 67 / W. Kentucky 63
W. Kentucky pulled within one with 52 seconds on the clock to give No. 12 ASU a scare in their first game of the tournament. ASU’s Emily Westerberg led the Sun Devils with 14 points and went 8-8 at the free throw line. WKU had five players score in double figures and held ASU to only 25 points in the second half.

Game #4 – (18) Rutgers 57 / Penn St. 44
With their leading scorer, Matee Ajavon, still on the bench recovering from surgery, the No. 18 Scarlet Knights were led by Essence Carson’s 14 points. Penn State was able to come close at times, but their 21 turnovers to Rutgers’s 11 proved costly. The Lady Lions were led by Adrienne Squire with 12 points.

Sorry, but no word on the rest of the Thanksgiving traditions here on the island, so I think I will let that one stay a mystery! We have another full slate in our final day of play here at the 2006 Paradise Jam and we will all start making our way back to the mainland. I just heard from my family back home in Seattle and they are forecasting snow and very cold temperatures—so I guess my sweaters and mittens will be covering up my new tan—darn! Come back for the final tallies later! I hope you have had a chance to see the photo galleries we have been posting too—you can find them on the Paradise Jam website at: Enjoy!


Friday, November 24, 2006

November 24, 2006 – Women’s Brackets Continue, Four Games on the Slate

Last night’s Thanksgiving games showed us some of the stars you might want to watch for this season. Marquette’s Christina Quaye, a 6-2 senior forward out of Chicago, Ill. dazzled the fans with 23 points and 8 rebounds en route to an opening round win over Western Michigan and Xavier’s Joei Clyburn tallied with 23 points in their opening round win over Auburn. Auburn’s bright spot came from a 6-7 sophomore center as KeKe Carrier snagged an impressive 13 rebounds, 11 of them offensive.

Here are the final scores from last night:
Gm. #1 Marquette 74 W. Michigan 61
Gm. #2 Xavier 75 Auburn 64

And the schedule for today, November 24:
Game #1 - Marquette vs. Auburn - 2:00pm (St. John Division)
Game #2 - Xavier vs. W. Michigan - 4:30pm (St. John Division)
Game #3 - Arizona State vs. W. Kentucky - 7:00pm (St. Thomas Division)
Game #4 - Rutgers vs. Penn State - 9:30pm (St. Thomas Division)

It was difficult to remember that yesterday was Thanksgiving, although we were treated to a turkey and stuffing dinner—being in a tropical paradise as opposed to the Pacific Northwest makes for a confusing holiday—especially when the house music in the hotel restaurant is playing Christmas carols with a calypso beat. It requires a bit of a mental adjustment.

You may be wondering if the locals in the US Virgin Islands celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as I was—so I asked. The answer is: YES. We were wished a Happy Thanksgiving my most all of the locals and many were already making plans to cook their turkeys and trimmings early in the day and expecting to spend time with their friends and families. I wanted to know if they watched football and if all the men unbuttoned their pants after dinner and fell asleep on the couch too, but never had the chance to find that out. Perhaps I will do that today. Stay tuned.

Be sure to check in on the Paradise Jam website ( to watch LiveStats in real time during the games and for box scores and photos after the games. On this day after Thanksgiving, I am most thankful that I am not on the mainland shopping on Black Friday! Hope you all survive the crowds and thank you for reading!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

November 23, 2006 – Thanksgiving in Paradise

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and welcome to the 2006 Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands! Today, the women will begin their tournament and we will have two games on the slate. At 4:00 pm (AST), we will see Western Michigan against Marquette and then at 6:30 pm, we will feature Auburn and Xavier.

Last night, the women were treated to a welcome reception at Paradise Point. The teams get to ride the St. Thomas Skyride 700 ft. above the town of Charlotte Amalie high above St. Thomas Harbor. Once at the top, the teams, coaches and staff are treated to a catered dinner and are able to get a beautiful night time aerial view of the harbor, take photos and enjoy some entertainment. On this night, a rock-a-billy band was playing and some of the girls and even a couple coaches cut up the dance floor.

The teams will be able to enjoy some activities, practice and enjoy Thanksgiving dinners together throughout the day. We will have scores of the day’s games here on the blog. You can also follow the games live through LiveStats on the Paradise Jam website ( where we will also be posting box scores and photo galleries throughout the tournament.

So who is this basketball blogger anyway? My name is Dana Hinman and I am the media relations director for this year’s men’s (view men’s blog at and women’s tournaments. In a previous life, I was a teacher, coach and collegiate athlete. I then moved on to work in communications for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in Atlanta, Ga., which is where I became reacquainted with Nancy Hawkinson (nee Hove) from Basketball Travelers, Inc. Turns out BTI and the WBCA have been in partnership for a few years, and Nancy and I went to high school together. (Some of you may remember Nancy’s all-star days as a basketball player from Auburn (Wash.) High School and the University of Washington) After three years with the WBCA, I missed my home in the Great Northwest and headed back west where I now live and work.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and check back for tournament updates soon!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2006 women's field starts Nov. 23

The Paradise Jam consists of two separate 4-team tournaments. One is a Multiple Team Event (MTE) three-game round robin tournament called the St. John division and the other a two-game counting event called the St. Thomas division.

An MTE tournament counts as only two games against a team’s annual maximum of 29 games, despite playing three games at the tournament. Counting tournaments carry no restrictions as all games played count against a team’s schedule.

Game matchups and schedules are listed on the right.