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Bookstore Basketball: ‘U Got a Bad Draw’ leads this year’s Sweet 16

Kate Gales | Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sixteen teams. Eighty players. Eight thousand fans. But only one team will be named champion on April 24.

And at this point, every group of five believes it could be them.

“I think that this year’s field is definitely a lot deeper than last year’s,” said Chinedum Ndukwe, captain of top-seeded U Got a Bad Draw. “I think we’re having some good games trying to get to the finals, but I’m not worried about anyone in particular. If we play our style of basketball, I think we’ll be hard to beat.”

Last year, Ndukwe’s team walked away with the championship. However, veterans will tell him that once the Sweet 16 begins, anything can happen.

“Each year we go out there with the mindset go out and have a good time,” said Justin Funk of We Get Wet, the No. 2 seed in the Sweet 16. “Anything can happen in Bookstore – we know because we’ve seen just about everything that could happen in the last three years.”

Even the Sweet 16 keeps the spirit of Bookstore Basketball alive, with a high level of competition also focusing on having fun.

“I just think its great going out there and seeing everybody come out to Bookstore to watch everybody play,” said Tom Exner of Anthony Travel, the No. 11 seed. “Nobody’s even watching a particular game at times, everyone’s out there just to have a good time and I think that’s what bookstore all about.”

Ndukwe agreed.

“We like to mess around, but we obviously don’t want to jeopardize [our chances of winning] in any way,” he said. “We try not to be too intense on the court but obviously these next couple games we’ll have to bring our A-game.”

By the Sweet 16, the remaining teams are the best out of more than 600 entrants, as Joe McClyde of No. 5-seeded Looking For a Sponsor at the Moment observed.

“I think it gets serious at this point,” he said. “It becomes more fun when you’re battling from the beginning to the very end. It’s all out, everyone’s putting everything into it for who’s a better team. You want to win it at least once before you graduate … you thrive off having the crowds there. “

Funk’s team has received special attention due to this year’s addition of varsity basketball player Jordan Cornette.

“It might change the way other teams play [us],” he said. “But the rest of us four all know how to play, so it’s not like he has to go out there and play like he’s in a Big East game or anything … its fun though, he’s awesome to play with.”

Players from We Get Wet are on familiar territory, though, having made it to the Elite Eight twice and the Final Four once.

Like the other remaining teams, all are focused on their matchup in the Sweet 16. Exner and Anthony Travel are looking at a challenging game against CoCoa Butter, the No. 6 seed.

“Our strength is Harold Swanagan,” Exner said. “Everyone tries to guard him at once so it makes everything easier for the rest of us. Obviously I think the game tomorrow will be awesome because I know the team we’re playing has a guy about his size.”

The level of competition is at its highest in these finals rounds.

“Everyone’s been taking it pretty seriously,” Exner said. “We’ll be up for any challenge.”

We Get Wet is confident in their ability, however.

“Once we put Jordan on the team this year, it changed the dynamic,” Funk said. “At this point, we really do expect to be there at the end.”

The other remaining teams are No. 3 Jack’s Shorts, No. 4 State Theatre, No. 7 Platinum FUBU 2.0, No. 8 Pudgy’s Chicken, No. 9 Training Day, No. 10 HP, No. 12 Linebacker Lounge, No. 13 Hannah’s Storm, No. 14 Blue Collar Ballers, No. 15 Anarchy 99 and No. 16 Mean Girls.