The Coca-Cola/Deseret News Roundball Ruckus scored a triple-triple late Friday afternoon. With temperatures soaring toward 100 degrees and close to 250 teams in action, things were heating up in the parking lot of the 49th Street Galleria.
A steady breeze made the air feel even warmer for the players and spectators, but play continued as scheduled on 30 courts in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Ex-University of Utah center Mitch Smith was glad his team's first game of the evening lasted only 20 minutes."It's hot," he said, "but this is a good way to get in shape."
After playing professionally in Spain last season, Smith is going to Turkey in August. In the Roundball Ruckus, he's teamed with ex-Utes Jimmy Madison and Boo Singletary on the "Runnin' Jambs," who defeated Burningham Bros. 20-9 in Division 1 Friday.
Asked why he'd play in a recreational tournament, Smith smiled and said, "This is what old guys do."
Actually, the Runnin' Jambs' star player was Friday was Arvid Hass, a deadly outside shooter who played at a Nebraska junior college.
Finals in most of the 22 divisions will be staged at 5:30 p.m. today. Before that, there are plenty of other activities. Division 1 games start at 8:30 a.m. and will go throughout the day. At 11:30 a.m., Frank Layden of the Jazz and Rick Majerus of the University of Utah will conduct a free clinic, which should be plenty entertaining. The finals of the slam-dunk contest will be at 3 p.m. and the finals of four separate shooting contests will follow at 3:30 p.m.
The Roundball Ruckus was first organized in San Antonio three years ago, was a huge success in Denver last summer and seems to have found a home in the Salt Lake Valley. As players like Mitch Smith illustrate, everybody's looking for a game. "I've been trying to get into all the leagues I can," he says.
For hundreds of amateur players and at least one active pro, the Roundball Ruckus is the perfect way to spend a hot day.