Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
In the past 20 years, a team I root for has won the title in its sport only once, the 2003 Syracuse Orange. 20 seasons of Mets baseball, Redskins football, Knicks basketball and Syracuse basketball and football. And one title. 99 seasons ended in a loss. Only one ended with a title. Some seasons exceeded expectations, some disappointed. Some we thought would be bad, and they were bad. Others we thought would be great and they were great. But 99% of them end short of the ultimate goal. But even as a sometimes pessimistic fan, I refuse to go rewrite history and say everything that happened before the final failure is failure as well. The Syracuse men's basketball team had a great 2013-14 season. They won their first 25 games and held the number one ranking for a few weeks in February. This year's team played (and won) the best game I've ever seen in person, 91-89 in overtime, over Duke, possibly forging a rivalry that could grow to even greater heights than previous battles with Georgetown and UConn. We got to watch CJ Fair, a beacon for college purists who believe freshman should come in and learn and blossom into stars in their senior year. We got to watch Tyler Ennis who for most of the season played with a calm and poise you rarely even see in points guards twice his age.
Monday, March 24, 2014
#3 Iowa State 85 #6 North Carolina 83 I moved the best game of the day to the top of the column because that's the billing it deserves. What an unfortunate ending to such a great game though. I think it was the right decision, the clock clearly did not start on time when the ball was in-bounded. I wonder what would have happened if the clock started late and UNC had tried for and made a shot instead of trying to call timeout. Which by the way was a boneheaded move by Ol' Roy. There was not nearly enough time in 1.6 seconds to dribble up the court, call time out, inbound again and have time for anything against a set defense. Totally stupid. Here's where it got away from UNC: Four minutes to go they're up 8 and have the ball, Marcus Paige took a quick jack and missed a 3 they didn't need. Huge mistake. Iowa turned into it a Naz Long 3. Then McAdoo commits a foul and Iowa State turns it into a Monte Morris 3. On the next possession again UNC in a rush. Kennedy Meeks grabs an offensive rebound and doesn't even come down with it. Shot missed, Iowa State turns it into a Melvin Ejim layup on the break. A few seemingly mild mistakes and the lead goes from 8 to zero in less than 2 minutes. I blame the coaching here too. I hate the stall offense some teams employ, basketball's version of the prevent, but it's prudent to at least be patient and make the defense work. But the biggest mental breakdown of all, the one that cost them the game way letting DeAndre Kane leak out for the go ahead basket with 30 seconds left. You can't let a basket that easy decide the game. Though they did come back and score, and made Kane work for the real game winner, but he made a great play.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
What the hell happened to Tyler Ennis? Remember when he went more than half the season without making a turnover in the final 5 minutes of a game? Why did he take two outside shots at the end of the game. Here is what Jim Boeheim said about the game ending 3-point miss: "The last shot was a great shot. It was the right play. A chance to win the game. You don't have enough time to get to the basket. I have no problem with that shot." And Ennis: "I thought I got a really good look.I didn't think I had enough time to get to the basket. I think the look I got, I think everybody was happy with it. I thought it was good.'' I can actually understand that, time was winding down, he had no time to pass, he would have been driving into the teeth of the defense and risking not getting a shot off at all. It was the jumper on the previous possession that I think was much worse. So did Coach Boeheim: "With 13 seconds to go, we wanted to get it to Tyler and drive the ball. We'd just driven the ball for three baskets. I don't know why he settled for the jump shot. There was plenty of time. He had space. I'm not sure why." Bode Miller's wife was going nuts in the stands, all while wearing a shirt that said "Dayton High Life." Wouldn't it make more sense if it said "Miller High Life?"
#1 Florida 61 #9 Pittsburgh 45 Typical game of what you would expect from Pitt. They beat you up and hang in there. Typical of what you would expect from Florida, eventually their athletes were too much for Pitt to keep up with, and once they started nailing shots they pulled away. #4 Louisville 66 #5 St. Louis 51 There are no more 5 seeds left in the tournament. St. Louis actually gave Louisville a game for a little while but then they gave the ball to Luke Hancock, he hit a couple threes and that was that. #2 Michigan 79 #7 Texas 65 Our third straight nondescript game of good team beats bad team by a lot. Except Michigan had this one in hand the whole way. I think there is a strong chance we will get a national championship rematch in this regional final. Michigan would have to beat the Mercer-Tennessee winner and Louisville would have the tougher task of facing Wichita State or Kentucky. #4 San Diego State 63 #12 North Dakota State 44 North Dakota State actually hung in for a little while but couldn't match the athleticism. Great performance by Xavier Thames. He killed NDSU every way possible. #2 Wisconsin 85 #7 Oregon 77 Probably the most aesthetically pleasing games of the day. With 7 minutes left in the first half more points had been scored in this one than in the Syracuse game, which had been in play for twice as many minutes. I'm very surprised that Wisconsin was able to beat Oregon at their own game. But they are not as slow and lumbering as they have been in previous years under Bo Ryan. They have a lot of guys who can shoot and the like to spread the floor and pass it around to get the defense moving. They hit 11 of 28 from 3 with 6 different players making at least one. Thus ends the long career of Mike Moser. He started at UCLA, went to UNLV and finished up at Oregon. He played the 2009-10 season at UCLA, sat out a year, played 2 at UNLV but because he graduated he got back that lost year of eligibility. You know you're getting old when the guys you used to watch now have sons in college. Last year it was Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III on Michigan, this year it's Devin Marble on Iowa and Traevon Jackson (son of Jimmy) playing for Wisconsin. Looks just like him too.