Be Like Mike: Daum Leads House Of Paign To 76-53 Win In TBT First Round
Maybe the most important move House Of Paign head coach Mike LaTulip made was a free agent pickup who never stepped on the University of Illinois campus.
In one of the first roster announcements made by LaTulip, the former graduate transfer after spending three years as a walk-on at Illinois, the House Of Paign team acquired the services of Mike Daum. The NCAA’s all-time seventh-leading scorer, who still holds the Summit League and South Dakota State scoring records, led all scorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a dominating 76-53 victory over War Tampa in the first round of The Basketball Tournament Saturday night.
House Of Paign, which had only been able to practice together for the last five days but had prepared sets and a philosophy of play for months thanks to organized Zoom video conferences by LaTulip, led this matchup from start to finish and showcased a chemistry-laden defensive effort that limited War Tampa to just 3 of 23 from three-point range.
“Illinois fans that watched us may be thinking of these guys who didn’t play at Illinois ‘Who are these guys?’, but they’re high character guys,” LaTulip said in the post-game media conference. “It takes a lot. It takes a village. Obviously when we put this team together, we had a template. When we did that, we thought we’d have guys that liked being around each other.”
Daum, who had his 2019-20 professional season cut short in Spain’s highest classification league, came out without any rust from the coronavirus lockdowns by making each of the first two shots he looked at. The 6-foot-9 forward finished 7 of 13 from the field and showed off his patented perimeter game by nailing 3 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I hadn’t played a game at all since March so it just felt great,” Daum said. “I just thought our team did such a great job of bringing our own energy that it didn’t matter (that fans weren’t allowed in the arena due to COVID-19 protocols).”
Andres Feliz hadn’t played in a competitive basketball game since Illinois defeated Iowa in the regular season finale at State Farm Center on March 8. You would’ve never noticed the 6-foot-2 guard had that long of a layoff as he showed off his patented game of pushing the tempo, finishing with contact in the lane and shutting down one of college basketball’s best all-time three-point shooter. Feliz had 20 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes.
“Andres Feliz may have just finished his college career but that dude is a pro,” LaTulip said.
Feliz’s most important quality Saturday night was limiting Fletcher Magee, who broke the all-time NCAA record for most career three point field goals, to just 1 of 4 from the field and just two points in 22 minutes of action.
“Coming from the Domincan Republic and a poor background, I know how to sacrifice more and to work harder than anybody else,” Feliz said. “That has put me in the position I’m in today.”
Malcolm Hill, the Illini’s third-leading all-time scorer but never got to a NCAA tournament game in his college career, contributed 15 points and four rebounds in 31 minutes.
The dynamic shooting backcourt of Magee and Bryce Brown that War Tampa, a team made up primarily of Auburn alumni, needed to rely on were stymied for most of the action. Brown, who led Auburn to the 2019 Final Four and is currently playing in the NBA’s G-League, struggled to find any rhythm with a eight-point effort on 2 of 10 shooting including 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.
All eight members of the House Of Paign team, which is a first-time entrant in the TBT event, scored and grabbed a rebound. The House Of Paign squad now advanced to the Round-of-16 where they’ll face the top seed, tournament defending champion and host Carmen’s Crew on Wednesday for a scheduled 3 p.m. CST tip on ESPN.
“We’re going to lay it all out on the line,” Feliz said. “You look down our lineup and we’re tough, we fight for everyone. Illini nation be ready for it. We’re going to leave it all out on the floor.”