Friday, March 29, 2013
This is one of the biggest wins in the history of the program. It almost undeniably the biggest NCAA Tournament upset under Jim Boeheim. I am going to give Boeheim a lot of credit for this win, something I seldom do. Well it's not that I don't give him credit for wins, I usually just blame him for losses. I think he had a good game plan on offense, to use the size of his guards, as evidenced from the first play of the game when they posted up Michael Carter-Williams, something I hadn't seen him do all season. Triche and Carter-Williams did what they were asked, effectively, and they dominated this game. I don't think Tom Crean had his team ready to play against Syracuse's zone. Syracuse came out very aggressive and forced turnovers, Indiana's outside shots weren't falling, and they seemed to get away from the plan which should have been to get the ball to Zeller at the foul line and let him kick out to open shooters. I normally don't buy into things like momentum or emotion, but it certainly seemed like Indiana was discouraged by Syracuse's big early run and never got their confidence back to make a real serious run. Syracuse's defense was really awesome, 19 turnovers forced and 10 blocked shots (thanks to the officials for letting them play). I think Baye Keita really has turned into Mark Price. I want him handling the ball late in close games. But nasty fall he took. I hope that thing on his head doesn't develop into a hematoma. Seeing Juli Boeheim in the stands just isn't the same now that I've met Amanda Enfield. I don't want to hear a single word about that game being played in front of a pro-Orange crowd. First of all, while there definitely were SU fans there, it was hardly overwhelming by any means. Second of all, it was about 7 - 8 hours away from campus. We can't help it if we have a strong alumni base on the east coast. Third of all, if this shit really mattered, then we got a bad draw on the first weekend, and a good one on the second weekend. That's called fair. Speaking of Fair, how did he miss that huge dunk. Syracuse missed a couple of dunks and layups and blew some fast breaks, could have easily won this game by more. This game provides zero comfort at all to assuage the pain of 1987. Nothing will ever take that hurt away. And of course they had to show the Keith Smart shot in the first time out. Thankfully, they didn't show DC's missed free throw. But it is nice to get a win against a hated opponent. In 2011, Marquette was an 11 seed, Syracuse a 3, and they knocked us off in the second round. Would be nice to get revenge for that one too.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Many people have noticed the resemblance between LaSalle's Tyrone Garland and Kel Mitchell from Good Burger.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
It all started off innocently enough. We were at the Syracuse-Seton Hall game in February and I mentioned to Pizza Parlor Derek that I thought (at the time) that Miami deserved to be ranked #1. PPD said no one who loses to Florida Gulf Coast should be number one. I can't remember my exact words but it was something to the effect of "they're better than you think" or "don't sleep on Florida Gulf Coast." I said this because I knew they had an RPI in the 90s (good for a school of FGCU's caliber) but they lost 5 times to teams with RPIs above 200, twice to Lipscomb. I am not saying I was convinced FGCU would go on this type of postseason run but that conversation certainly did put them on my radar. And then came the story that put them on everybody's radar: Mrs. Enfield. The smoking hot coach's wife who use to be a bikini model. Then I watched them play. They have a great style, they press, they run, they throw alley oops and they have a great time doing it. They are fun to watch. And they are having incredible success. They are only the 7th 15-seed to beat a 2 in the first round. And the first one to win its next game and go to the Sweet 16. Reminding a lot of people of the 1986 Cleveland State Vikings who in the 2nd year of a 64 team field beat Bobby Knight's Indiana team and went to the Sweet 16. A 14 seed made it that far only one other time since. So that's another reason to root for Florida Gulf Coast. But now I also have skin in the game. For years I have been collecting coke caps and redeem the codes for rewards points (I've netted $200 in Nike gift cards plus other assorted prizes). This year the rewards program added an ancillary game. For each Coke Zero cap you redeemed you got a team, since it happened prior to the tournament I was given "15 seed C." The rules are, when your team wins you win. If your teams wins the national title you get $100,000 if it's a 1 seed, a trip to next year's Final Four if it's not. Coke is smart, they made 1.25 million caps for this contest. 1 for each of the 1 seeds, 5 for each of the 2s, and 90,000 for each of the 16s. But my "15 seed C" turned into Florida Gulf Coast. So far I've won a free 20 oz Coke Zero, and 5 mp3 downloads. Next up is $20 in concert cash from Live nation. And if Florida Gulf Coast makes the Final Four I get a $100 Best Buy gift card. If they make the title game the prize is $400 in hotel or airline travel. And in the very very very extremely unlikely event they win it all, I'd be in a drawing for the Final Four tickets. Not a bad couple of weeks for a school no one had ever heard of until the coach's hot wife's bikini pictures broke the internet.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
In my bracket breakdown before the tournament, I made this prediction: "The committee did do a good job of matching big conferences and mid-majors in the 8/9 and 7/10 games though. 5 games like that among those and I will guarantee the mid-majors win at least three of those." They did better than that, they won all five (Colorado State over Missouri, Creighton over Cincinnati, Wichita State over Pittsburgh, San Diego State over Oklahoma and Temple over NC State). But before we say this proves the small guy doesn't get respect, look at this: of the 8 teams seeded 11 or 12, 4 were from big conferences, 4 were from small conferences. The big guys (Oregon, Ole Miss, Minnesota and California) all won their games, the 4 from the smaller conferences (St. Mary's, Belmont (damn them) Akron and Bucknell) all lost. And one more stat of the 12 teams seeded 1, 2 or 3, 10 were from big conferences, 2 were from mid-majors. The big conference schools were 18-1 (they all advanced save Georgetown), while New Mexico and Gonzaga went 1-2, both monumental upsets. If you choose to study this more there is an excellent Wikipedia page devoted just to tournament victories by teams seeded 11 or worse. I'm not writing this to make any judgment because I really don't know what it all means. I thought New Mexico and Gonzaga were great teams. I don't know why they lost. Maybe you could see the Pac-12 was underseeded and that's why Oregon and Cal won their games, but I really thought that league sucked, especially compared to the Mountain West which has zero teams remaining. Things like this are what makes the NCAA Tournament so great. One never knows what the fuck is going to happen.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Aaron Craft, ONIONS!!!! I don't like the guy, I don't think he's a very good player, mostly just a bruiser. I was celebrating because Iowa State went on a 19-6 run in five minutes late in the second half to take the lead, and they did so because of Craft. He missed 3 free throws (two on the front end of a one-and-one), committed a turnover and a stupid foul. But he made up for it by nailing the game-winning 3-pointer with no time left. So the last three times Ohio State played in Dayton in the tournament they lost twice and then narrowly escaped. Remind me again about that home court advantage that comes with playing somewhere in your home state. Ohio State is the luckiest team. This is the second straight year they have the road to the Final Four paved for them. Last year Syracse lose Fab Melo, greatly weakening them for Ohio State, now Gonzaga and New Mexico have been eliminated so it's Arizona and then some other Cinderella in the Elite 8. I knew I remembered Korie Luscious from somewhere. He started at Michigan State but got kicked off the team so he transferred to Iowa State. The officials did get the call wrong, the one that was ruled a charge, but should have been a block on Craft. The announcers blew it too, saying he wasn't in the restricted area because his foot was off the ground above the line. That is not the rule. That restricted area line extends all the way to the ceiling, unlike the rest of the boundaries on the basketball court. I don't blame the refs there, very tough call, but it did make a huge difference in this game. It is always nice to hear the band play "Hang On Sloopy" though. Now it's Oladipo with the onions though it was actually a bad shot. Indiana didn't need the risk of a 3 there, should have shot the best 2 and hoped to take a 3-point lead with ten seconds left. But he nailed it and clinched the game. Some effort by Khalif Wyatt. He's a damn good college player. He made 12 of 24 shots, the rest of his team went 9 for 38, yikes. Now we have to watch the replay of Keith Smart's buzzer beat 100 times between now and next week's game. Speaking of things that have been beaten into the ground, this Kansas-North Carolina matchup and Roy Williams stuff. I wish they could replay the soundbite of Roy saying "I couldn't give a shit about North Carolina right now." Bill Self must have given one hell of a halftime speech. Kansas outscored UNC 33-10 to start the second half, and they did it on defense, especially Withey. UNC couldn't make a shot and they never got back in it. Florida, meanwhile just pounded Minnesota from the beginning and barely ever let them back in the game. I'm sure they are hoping to see Florida Gulf Coast in the next round. But don't sleep on FGCU. They are a good team. And coached by a guy with a lot of confidence, a lot of money, and probably a big dick. I love everything that FGCU is doing. They play fast but not too fast. They had a lot of fast breaks and they were under control, not blowing the layups in haste. And they shoot 3s, but almost always in rhythm. Enfield didn't feel the need to pull the plug when they got a big lead because he trusted his team to make the right decisions with the ball. They really are a great team. A balanced group of guys who play together. They are a lot of fun to watch. They pulled off two major upsets and neither of them was even close. Gonna be a tough game against Florida but I wouldn't count them out. They don't play like a Cinderella. They are not playing a slowdown game, they are not chucking 3s, they're just playing better than their more touted opponents. I really don't like Marshall Henderson. I hate guys who shoot all the time. I hate guys who overdo the celebration, seemingly trying to get all the attention from themselves. But I could overlook that were it not for other parts of his life. Henderson was arrested for trying to buy pot with $800 of counterfeit money. While on probation he tested positive for alcohol, pot and cocaine. TO me that shows a guy who takes no responsibility and has never been forced to faced the consequences of his actions. He sure can shoot though. I don't mean to be insensitive to Ramon Galloway's father, but isn't it a waste to give a blind guy a ticket? Great drive to the basket by Garland. Don't bleed the clock too far, take it to the hole hard and make the shot. Great game, one of the best of the tournament so far. You will never convince me that playing the extra game is an advantage, simply because mathematically it's harder to win an extra game. But the first year they did it VCU went to the Final Four from the playin game. Now LaSalle is a 13 in the Sweet 16 and could easily get to the Elite 8 by beating Wichita State. Lots of neon shoes on the court foe Illinois and Miami. Yes Trey Larkin is Barry's son. No, Tyler Griffey is not Ken's son. A horrible blown call marred this game however. The ball was clearly out off Kadji's hand which should have given Illinois another chance. Not sure I'd be in favor of replay review for every call like that in the last two minutes of a game, but if it means the wrong team advances, maybe we should consider it. Impressive game by Duke. They didn't get their best performances from their best players but they played great defense hectoring a good Creighton team into a poor shooting night (2-19 from 3), and they got just enough from the second tier players to cruise to an easy victory.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
They keep talking about all the Cal fans who are making the short trip to San Jose. But I definitely heard a sizable contingent of people doing the stupid Syracuse stand and clap til the first basket thing. When Baye Moussa Keita catches the ball down low his first instinct is to do a pump fake. Go up strong! Incredibly sloppy game. Tons of turnovers in the first half, horrible shooting in the second half. Tons of fouls also. James Southerland has to learn to play better interior defense without fouling. He's lazy and late a lot of times and makes up for it by fouling. And Boeheim again left him in with 3 and he picked up his 4th, same as happened against Louisville in the Big East final which set up their huge run. Putting Southerland on the bench takes away a major weapon on offense and it makes it harder for everyone else to drive, or cut. On defense though, I think Southerland plays better defense when he's in foul trouble because he doesn't reach or grab. Syracuse should have won this game by 20, or could have lost it. They didn't play their best and Cal played even worse. And it's also very troubling how Syracuse consistently blows leads. Stupid turnovers, foul trouble and bad free throw shooting. This one didn't get really close, but it certainly could have. SU made 2 bad turnovers late, but both times Cal gave it right back. Maybe my inexplicable love for James Southerland clouds my thoughts about this team, but I love CJ Fair. He is a great player and really won this game for us. He is great playing the zone, and the reason his rebounds are so good, especially for someone his size, is because he is always in the right position, crashing the boards, boxing out when the shot goes up. I love the dimension Southerland provides, Michael Carter-Williams has the most potential, and Brandon Triche is the team leader, but CJ Fair is the best player on this team. So now comes the winner of Indiana-Temple. I know Temple already beat us this season on our pseudo-home floor at MSG but I would much prefer a rematch to a game against Indiana. I just don't see any way the zone can contain Oladipo and Zeller. And I'm glad we put to rest the myth of the home court. There were certainly some Cal fans in the crowd, but that didn't make the slightest bit of difference. I don't recall seeing Mrs. Boeheim on camera once that entire game. She must be pretty jealous of Amanda Marcum Enfield. I've got school spirit.
That was an unexpected blowout. But here's the thing with VCU, something I've said about Syracuse over the years. When you play VCU you know what kind of defense they are going to play. It's on tape, it's been written about, that pressure defense is what they do. It's a very effective system, and they are good at executing it, but you can study ways to beat it. Michigan just has a lot of athletic guys who can handle the ball, and shoot it. And Mitch McGary had a great game inside. Rachel Nichols looks good. Maybe someone at CBS gave her some better makeup advice than she was getting at ESPN. Charles Barkley is losing his voice. That would be a positive development as far as I am concerned. Steve Rushin had a great line. He said he named his bracket "I say tomato, Snoop says Tom Izzo." I remember when the Jay-Z song "H to the Izzo" came out the Michigan State cheerleaders would laugh every time he walked by, so he asked them why and they played that song for him. I bet he never imagined his last name would be so prevalent in pop culture. There's a reason why Michigan State always does so well in the tournament, they have size and they have good guards. I think they have also done what Syracuse tries to do, get good but not great players. Guys who will stay 3 or even 4 years and Izzo coaches em up and they always perform well in the tournament. Usually the first round games are frantic with a lot of blowouts in there. And when you get to the second round you still have the ejnoyment of a ton of games, but you usually get a lot of close contests. Not today. Michigan won by 25, Michigan State by 22 and now Louisville by 26. What happened to parity? Horrible start for Harvard. And it never got any better. Fourth straight blowout of the day. This has to be killing the TV ratings. April showers bring May flowers and first round upsets bring second round blowouts. Arizona looks like a real dangerous team though. They could face Ohio State in the next round, and could definitely win that game. Great win for Harvard, and I don't mean to sound like a sap but for those players and fans, winning just one game is a great accomplishment. Even the big upset of the day wasn't even close. Oregon now has a case to say they were grossly underseeded, but the committee may have done them a favor. Think about it. Would you rather play a 5 and a 4, or a 8 and a 1, or a 7 and a 2. As a 5 its hard to win one game, but you probably are more likely to win two games, than if you have to go through a #1 seed. I have seen the graphic explaining the difference between a Flagrant 1 and a Flagrant 2 way too many times in this tournament. And only once, maybe twice did I think the fouls were reckless or dangerous. Other times it's just guys playing basketball who happen to hit the other guy. Butler is such a good team. Brad Stevens is a good coach. This team is completely different than the 2010 title game team, and they are still very, very good. They are building a Gonzaga of the Midwest. And when Marquette made the comeback, led by Vander Blue (he's having himself a tournament), Butler didn't blink. Vander Blue, ONIONS! Down 69-66, gets the pass in the corner and nails it. Oh jeez, Rotnei Clark took a terrible shot, 6 seconds remaining and he totally chucked up a 3 he didn't need when Butler was only down 2. Terrible decision. Very un-Butler. Very creative tournament summary during the Butler-Marquette game. Normally they show one conference doing well, one doing poorly. But in this case they said the 68 bands played "Living On a Prayer" and "Bad Romance" 312 times. And Allie LaForce picked up 4,000 twitter followers. An excuse to show her on camera, yes, but smart producing. Horrible choke job by Gonzaga. Normally when a big favorite gets down early and they make their comeback and take a big lead (Gonzaga was up 7 with 5 minutes left), they don't let the underdog back in it. But then Wichita State went nuts, bombing 3s and not only did they get back in it, they actually took a comfortable lead in the final minute. Now I have to listen to another week of Mrs. Poop saying the administration at Wichita State University is being negligent by not changing the team name and instead allowing people to use the crude Shocker hand symbol as a proxy for the Shockers teams.