Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tournament Thoughts - Sweet 16 Friday

Xaiver needs to start better. They got back in it but Baylor isn't Lehigh. Couldn't come all the way back.

Quincy Acy is nasty. Did you see that dunk off the inbounds play?

Baylor has two guys named Quincy and two guys named Jones. But there's only one Quincy Jones.

After a ridiculous performance against Colorado Brady Heslip was cold in this game, but he nailed 4 big free throws down the stretch.

Xavier almost made the comeback thanks to an incredibly fluky play at the wrong time. A loose ball was tipped around by several guys such that the referees could not determine who touched it last. They ruled a jump ball which gave Xavier possession though replays showed it likely should have been Baylor ball.

During the course of the game a play like that doesn't seem like a big deal. But in the final minute it could decide a game. Maybe that should be added to the the plays eligible for replay review, but maybe only in the final minutes.

I don't know why CBS made such a big deal out of Clark Kellogg watch the Ohio game on a separate monitor. It's almost like they wanted it to be an added sideshow to the game. Why not assign him to a Thursday/Saturday region? I get that Kentucky is the big draw, but if the guy wants to watch his kid that badly, let the poor guy do it.

A really close call for North Carolina. The first overtime game of the tournament. And you got the feeling when it went into overtime that North Carolina was going to win. The longer talent has to compete against a lesser team, the more likely talent will prevail.

A great game by Walter Offutt. I could tell it was Walter Offutt because the names on the back of the Ohio jerseys are in the same size font as those books for old people Papa Poop borrows from the library.

Imagine what Ohio could have done if Cooper and Baltic shot a little better than 5 for 30 from the field. Or maybe if they just shot less.

But speaking of what ifs, what if the Tar Heels had gone to Tyler Zeller more. He had 20 points and 22 rebounds because he had a huge advantage inside. They should have pressed that advantage even more.

I think the turning point of this game was when Ohio was up 57-53 with under 4 minutes to go and DJ Cooper got a steal. On the breakaway he got blocked from behind by Henson. If he could have made that shot and made it 6, or slowed it down and burned some time (and maybe got a better shot off) this game could have ended differently.

I did love Ohio's end of game strategy, go hard at the basket right away. Yes, they gave Carolina a final shot (which they squandered by trying to kill every single second left on the clock) but they got themselves in the best position to score to tie the game.

It's a real shame that North Carolina lost Kendall Marshall though I still hope he can play Sunday. Their offense just wasn't the same without him. Nor was their defense with Stillman White.

But Marshall's absence didn't make Harrison Barnes shoot 3 of 16 from the field.

Jim Nantz is the worst announcer ever. Clark referred to a player as an Allen wrench because he has one only purpose, in this case shooting 3s. Nantz then referred to Cody Zeller's two fouls as a "wrenching" situation. Earlier Gay Nantz referred to a reach-in foul as a reach-around.

Then he jinxed Christian Watford. And before he said he noted that it was going to be a jinx. He'd hit 30-something free throws, Nantz said it, and he missed the next one.

Smart move by Calipari to leave Davis on the bench with two fouls the entire first half. He didn't even waiver when Indiana made a run.

Without Davis Kentucky can still score, but their defense is horrible. Oladipo was driving the lane with impunity.

Cody Zeller had a good game, but not as good as his brother. A few bad turnovers and those two fouls right in a row.

I wonder what the Zellers did. Did one parent go to one game and one parent to another? I'd think that's what you would have to do. Unless they went to Indiana's first weekend and UNC's second.

Speaking of families. I love the Harbaughs. So funny that their sister also married a coach.

Wow did Kansas almost blow this one. You do not foul the 3-point shooter, especially when it is Scott Wood. They did this twice and he made all 6 free throws. But then Wood made a big mistake shooting a 3 when they were only down by 1 point.

And a horrible skip pass that carried Wood out of bounds. They on late game situations is don't turn it over, get a shot up. Give yourself a chance for a foul or a rebound, don't try something that could end in a turnover.

Jeff Withey had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 10 blocks. Rarely do you see a guy with twice as many blocks as rebounds.

Is it just me or do Bill Self and Mark Gottfried kind of look alike?

Friday, March 23, 2012

They Found Vlade Divac? In the Philippines?

The most amazing flop in basketball history. The player's name is Mick Pennisi and this happened in the Philippines:

Syracuse vs Wisconsin

After defeating Wisconsin 64-63 Jim Boeheim said it was one of the greatest games he ever coached in. I think he was right. There were very few turnovers (12 combined), very few fouls (25 combined) and few missed shots (50 misses, for a 49% success rate). It wasn’t marred by bad officiating (though there was one late horrible foul called on Scoop Jardine) and it came down to the end, one final shot. A wonderful game to watch, and even better because Syracuse won it.

And something else rare, I will give Boeheim credit for coaching a great game. On defense the strategy was to pressure the ball to make Wisconsin speed up their passes, which he hoped would lead to turnovers and fast breaks. Syracuse got too aggressive, began over-rotating to the ball and leaving wide-open shooters. Once Wisconsin nailed 6 3s in a row, Boeheim called timeout and he seemed to make an in-game adjustment. The rest of the game they did a better job of staying home and forcing Wisconsin to work really hard. They burned a lot of time, and still not get open shots.

I'm generally a Boeheim critic but he did a great job in this game

He also had a good strategy on offense, drive to the hoop. Triche and Jardine set this tone early and it was the reason CJ Fair also had a great game (7-9 shooting, compared to 2-17 in the previous 4 games).

CJ Fair played one of his best games after a rough stretch for him

They drove to the basket, which had dual effects. It got Berggren and Bruesewitz in early foul trouble. But it also resulted in a lot of easy baskets. Poor outside shooting is often cited as a weakness for SU, and it’s true but only to a point. I think the low 3-point shooting percentage is more likely a product of bad shot selection than limited ability. And especially in games when opponents are bombing 3s, that’s when Scoop, Waiters and Joseph want to answer with 3s of their own. Discretion was the better part of valor as SU hit 5 of 9 from 3, a higher percentage than Wisconsin which made “only” 14 of 27.

But I beg Boeheim, somehow, someway, teach these kids to make free throws. I don’t understand what he is doing wrong, but for years Syracuse has always sucked at free throw shooting and it almost cost them last night when Joseph missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Eerily similar to the 1987 championship game with DC on the line.

Speaking of DC did you see him high-fiving Scoop’s dad?

They talk about the importance of good guard play in the tournament and this was evidence last night. On the first series, Triche drove the ball to the hoop, scored the basket and got fouled. That sent the tone for what SU would do the rest of the game.

Brandon Triche's early hoop and harm set the tone for the game

I didn’t think I would ever write this sentence: Baye Keita played a great game. He is a non-factor on offense, 4 points is a lot for him, but he held down the middle on defense, though I wish he wouldn’t foul so much. But his biggest contribution was getting rebounds on defense. Wisconsin had only 8 offensive rebounds, and it was not a factor in the game.

But I don’t understand why Boeheim benched Rakeem Christmas. I hope it was just a factor of Keita playing well and not some kind of issue with Rak. I guess he just got himself into foul trouble and Boeheim stuck with Baye.

James Southerland also hardly played but I think that’s because he’s now become a 2-man power forward platoon with CJ Fair. Fair played so well that he played 37 minutes, no time for Southerland.

Wisconsin has one black guy and this is what he looks like? He's got an early-90s high-top fade?

A lot of people are criticizing Bo Ryan for not calling a timeout on the final possession, especially because he didn't get Berggren in the game. I normally like letting the game flow naturally and giving your players the opportunity to make a play. Ryan says he didn't want to waste the extra time needed for a timeout. He also says since they didn't need a 3 he didn't think it was a big deal not to get Berggren in. I also think he didn't want to be left with zero timeouts. What if they couldn't inbound the ball? What if Syracuse was able to trap the ball-handler? People are asking what he was saving his last timeout for. That's what, and that's why Ryan did the correct thing.

It didn't sound that way on TV but all tweets I read from inside the building depicted the crowd as heavily and vociferously pro-Orange.

The long and storied Syracuse career of Scoop Jardine continues for one more game. Great picture of him exultant when the final shot missed, offset by the dejected Wisconsin bench.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

When Scoop Met Shane

The whole world, with the exception of Billy, was heart-broken for poor Shane when he realized his favorite player, Scoop Jardine would not be back with Syracuse next year.
But after Syracuse's game against Kansas State, when they arrived back on campus Scoop had a little visitor waiting for him at the Melo Center.

I'm surprised Shane wasn't more excited to see his hero, unless there had been more to that meeting than we saw on video.
But I am not at all surprised that he preferred the tissue paper over the actual gift.
One gift Shane got from Scoop was a small basketball, which his mother found him with the next morning.

Pizza Night

One of my favorite meals Mrs. Poop makes is her homemade pizza. Even if she doesn't couple it with her dessert pizza, a decadent mix of chocolate chips for the sauce and M&Ms and marshmallows as the toppings. Anyway, for Mrs. Poop to make this special creation I often pick up the ingredients. And the kind folks at Whole Food assemble it so nicely for us, dough, sauce and shredded cheese all in neat packaging, all in one refrigerated area together. And only $9 or $10, not bad, especially by Whole Foods standards.

I have bought these things for Mrs. Poop at least three times. And every single time I placed the items on the counter the cashier has said the same thing: "pizza night?"
Now I know they are just being friendly, I know their jobs are tedious and I know they are told to interact with people but of course it's fuckin pizza night. I'm buying dough, tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella, do you think I'm making a fuckin amuse-bouche?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Song of the Week

"Before I Let Go" -Frankie Beverly & Maze

Would You Bang? Skylar Diggins

Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins has gotten a lot of attention, not just for her play, but also for her looks. Would you want to spend one shining moment with her?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Wish Chelsea Clinton Turned Out This Way

If you are like me you remember actress Elisabeth Moss as the cute, young, kidnapped Zoey Bartlet on the West Wing

Some of you may be more familiar with her work as the dowdy secretary Peggy Olson on Mad Men.

Or maybe you know her best for her marriage to Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen. A marriage that didn't even last long enough for me to do a Love is Blind on it.

Regardless of how you became familiar with her it's unlikely you knew how hot she is until she showed what she is working with beneath a trench coat for the New York Post's Page Six Magazine. The accompanying article ripped Armisen for impersonating a normal person throughout their 8-month marriage.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tournament Thoughts - Second Round Sunday

They're doing it again. Now the announcers are saying the brawl in China helped bring Georgetown together as a team.

Georgetown came out hot then basically played lax for 12 minutes between the two halves, and NC State went on a 30-9 run that gave them a lead they basically never relinquished.

Though they almost blew it by missing 4 free throws in the final minute. Georgetown even had a chance to chuck up a game winning 3-pointer. Because NC State did not foul. Under 5 seconds off a rebound, far from the basket (no chance of shooting foul), up by 3, you should foul. It would almost be impossible to lose, but coaches are afraid of a made free through, purposeful miss, rebound and putback. What are the chances of that happening?

Love Draymond Green. Maybe everyone is getting a little sick of him and the story about Magic Johnson calling him, but he really is a special player.

I love Rick Majerus, but the end of the game was brutal. His fouling strategy at the end of game made it simultaneously boring and exciting. Exciting because it almost worked, boring because it took half an hour.

John Henson's wrist might still be hurting. He was really furious when a guy took a swipe at it.

If two guys were so good at Ames High School how come The Mayor didn't get either? I guess it makes sense, McDermott wanted to play for his dad and Barnes was the #1 recruit in the entire country.

North Carolina just has too much talent for Creighton. They can beat themselves at times, but when they turn it on, Creighton has no chance.

Everything about Gregory Echinique is impressive, except his glasses.

For all who root for upsets, this is what you get. A 25-0 run by Florida. Upsets very often lead to bad games in the next round.

I loved Norfolk State's win, but I kind of what have liked to see Missouri-Marquette.

The Norfolk State cheerleaders remind me of Bring It On, when they stole the routine from the black school. And a 27-year-old Gabrielle Union played a high school cheerleader.

This is the problem when a team plays great defense and focuses on defense. South Florida couldn't get a bucket when they needed one.

As soon as the Ohio game ended I switched to Xavier-Lehigh and they showed Jim Nantz delivering the news to Clark, and he was visibly nervous and excited. Very nice moment.

And I hope he enjoys it because they have no chance against North Carolina. That game will be 60-30 at some point during the second half before Roy Williams calls off the dogs.

But Kendall Marshall broke his wrist. Non-shooting hand so he will surely be able to play. But between him and Henson they are going to have a tough time because this is where the tournament gets tougher. First three games against Vermont, Creighton and Ohio. But last three games could conceivably be against 3 top 10 teams out of the group of Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State, Michigan State and Kentucky. Hard to win three straight against that competition with two key players at less than their best.

Lehigh had an incredible run and a big lead against Xavier, but once it started to go wrong they seemed to start to lose confidence. And Xavier took advantage. They kept feeding Kenny Frease because he had 3 inches and 50 pounds on Gabe Knutson. Frease had 25 points on 11 of 13 shooting and is the reason Xavier won. Let's see if he can do that against Perry Jones III. Though PJ3 is skinny.

I like Lehigh's uniforms, you don't see many teams with brown in their color scheme.

We still have not had a buzzer beater or an overtime game in this tournament. I guess the Kansas game was the closest thing we got.

A shame for Robbie Hummel. What a star-crossed career. At least he ended it on a good note.

And down goes another trendy Final Four team. Even though I did horribly in round 1 I did not fall into the Missouri and Florida State traps.

Every team left plays in the eastern time zone except Baylor and Kansas who are in the central. Ohio has 4 teams left (Ohio, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Xavier). Half of the teams remaining are from the Big East or Big Ten, the two best conferences.