NCAA Tournament: Day 3 Thoughts

A bit bleary-eyed after a day in front of the TV, but here goes . . .

1. Officiating. I’ve now heard Rece Davis — twice — say that Stanford coach Trent Johnson handled the postgame discussion of his early ejection against Marquette with “a lot of class.” Digger Phelps and Steve Lavin of ESPN then went on to say that Johnson shouldn’t have been tossed. The ref that tossed him, Curtis Shaw, has a well-known nickname. “Quick Draw” Curtis Shaw. But in this case, Shaw made absolutely the right call. If a coach is going to walk out to the top of the key to accost a ref, he needs to be tossed. Period. Somebody has to keep these coaches in line. I happen to like Shaw’s attitude. He takes nothing off these coaches, and I don’t think college refs should. It’s more of an NBA attitude.

2. Late-game execution. The more tight finishes I watch, the more I appreciate the heady play of Western Kentucky’s Tyrone Brazelton, who had the presence of mind to pull the defense away then dish to an available shooter. Texas A&M got a joke of a shot at the end of regulation against UCLA. Belmont, going back a couple of days, had the worst out-of-bounds play in history against (now-departed) Duke. Here’s a hint. If you’re a coach who hasn’t been to ten Final Fours, you’re probably not going to out-coach Duke’s coach during a 60-second time out, so just let the game continue.

3. Marquette. The Golden Eagles lost a golden opportunity against Stanford, and it can’t be sitting well with Tom Crean and Co. to have lost to a team whose coach spent much of the game in the locker room. Marquette’s inability to adjust to defend, somehow, the Lopez brothers, was puzzling. Where were the double-teams? Where were the digging guards? On too many crucial late possesions, Marquette went straight man, on-one-one against the bigger Stanford trees, and paid for it.

4. Conference Talk. U of L fans beware, this discussion may be a bad omen. The biggest conference fraud, I think we can all agree now, was the ACC. But after looking like world beaters in the first round, the Big East is 1-3 in the second. Pitt ran out of steam against Michigan State, which looks to be coming on. And Notre Dame was simply exposed, in a big way, by Washington State. So while the Big East probably still stands as the top conference overall, I still like what I’ve seen from the Pac 10, and am increasingly impressed by the Big 12. Texas A&M doing what it did with UCLA should send a message to teams like U of L, which faces Oklahoma later today, that these teams are tough and tested.

5. Kevin Love. It’s hard not to like watching him play, even if he does get away with the odd moving screen

6. Tournament’s biggest disappointment: Indiana, Indiana and Indiana. I’m now in agreement with colleague Rick Bozich. IU shouldn’t have gotten an eight seed. . . . . It should have been lower.

7. Tournament’s best moment: Western Kentucky’s Ty Rogers hitting a buzzer beater to beat Drake.

8. Quote of the night: West Virginia’s Joe Alexander: “Playing in the Big East tournament makes every tournament seem like nothing to you, really. Playing in the Big East every day gets you tougher and you play the best competition in the country. There’s really nothing that you’re afraid of and nothing that you’re not ready to face. And everybody saw that tonight as we played an ACC school, and not only held our own but went we went well beyond that. . . . Duke’s a great team, but I think they fit in well in the Big East, but they definitely wouldn’t dominate the Big East. We had a lot of great teams, I think the top six or seven teams are definitely right on par with Duke in the Big East. And the rest of them are right up there, too.”

9. Upset alert. Digger Phelps puts U of L on upset alert against Oklahoma. Steve Lavin puts Tennessee on upset alert against Butler. I haven’t agreed with either of these guys all night. But both made good points on these. Still, Phelps says Louisville will win, and Lavin goes with Tennessee.

10. Good night.

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9 thoughts on “NCAA Tournament: Day 3 Thoughts

  1. Kevin Love got by with the biggest moving pick in NCAA history. Was I the only one that saw it. Don’t give me that garbage he was going in for the rebound on the winning basketball. Watch what he does at the beginning to open the lane. MOVING PICK. The officiating in that game was one sided in the later half. Makes my hate for the Left Coast grow even more!

  2. Sorry, my daughter was bothering me while typing and I noticed several typos. Add a question mark after the second sentence, change basketball to basket after ‘winning’, and change later half to later part of the second half. It was still a moving pick!!!

  3. I’m happy to see you and I saw the same thing with the Stanford coach. I cannot believe how many talking heads are defending him! EVERYONE knows that the most dangerous time for a coach is the moments immediately after a technical foul. It’s very easy for an official to throw in the second for good measure. But if the coach is going to walk halfway out on the floor, he’s practically begging to be tossed!

  4. I also have to disagree with your view of Brazelton. While he made an outstanding play to get his guy loose for the final shot, it was a lot of his ill-advised shots and drives that helped keep Drake in it in the first place. Too many times as the game got closer to the end he was forcing the issue when all they needed to do was set up and get a good shot. Overall, he was great for them over the course of the game, but some of his late game decisions had me speechless.

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