Note: The comments in this entry are a consolidation of both BJD and Jeff.
* Not very many upsets so far, but those of us who stayed up late last night were rewarded by compelling endings in the VCU/UCLA and Illinois/Western Kentucky games. Clemson also fought back to make things close after 35 minutes of absolute bed shitting – but fell short once again. If there was one thing any ACC fan didn’t want to see, it was a conference member losing to a lower-seeded Big Ten team.
* Side note – I don’t know if it’s possible to get worse last-second shots than Clemson and VCU took last night – despite plenty of time on the clock to initiate a good play. Just ugly, ugly stuff that never stood a chance of working.
* Speaking of VCU/UCLA, those Rams fans were quite a motley looking group, were they not? What was the deal with the females in the band wearing bikini tops? Deadspin was thinking along the same lines.
* Is their any more justice in the world that Tyler Hansbrough breaks the ACC’s all-time scoring record with a friggin free throw? It was nice to see Hansbrough make this list of the five most hated players in the NCAA Tournament:
Hated because the media fawns over him (Jay Bilas going down on him at the end of the Louisville Elite 8 game last year may have been the tipping point), and because he seems to get all of the calls from the refs. Guilt-by-success seems to apply here.
Friday Comments – Here’s today’s slate, which looks pretty compelling:
#14 Stephen F. Austin vs. #3 Syracuse
#9 Tennessee vs. #8 Oklahoma State
#11 Utah State vs. #6 Marquette
#14 North Dakota State vs. #3 Kansas
Analysis: Will Syracuse be flat and/or tired after their epic Big East tournament? Is Marquette as cooked as I think they are sans injured PG Dominic James? Also, don’t sleep on North Dakota State – they play numerous 5th year seniors, and Kansas is a well-documented fraud. If there is going to be a major first round upset, it probably happens here. Very strange for the 8/9 game to be the least compelling matchup, but that is the case here.
#11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona State
#16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
#14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
#11 Dayton vs. #6 West Virginia
Analysis: Aside from Pitt/ETSU, these should be very competitive (if not aesthetically pleasing) games. Cornell could also pull a big upset, as they are a “repeat” team that returns most starters from last year’s early NCAAT exiting bunch. Those are the kinds of teams that can give a marquee team fits (just ask Jay Wright about Jeff Jones’ similar American squad). Syracuse and Kansas are very vulnearble #3 seeds, and the winner of each 6/11 game could easily make a deep run – particularly if Huggy Bear’s bunch can make it past a physical, tough Dayton squad. West Virginia is a good team with a good coach, and one of my dark horse Final Four possibilities.
#16 Morehead State vs. #1 Louisville
#12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
#10 Southern Cal vs. #7 Boston College
#13 Portland State vs. #4 Xavier
Analysis: It’s got the prime time slot, but easily the least compelling slate of games for the day. Louisville is really the only good team of these eight, and even the Cards come with question marks. Portland State could beat Xavier, but I wouldn’t consider that much of an upset because Xavier just isn’t that strong. Hopefully, BC comes through for the ACC, but that’s a coin flip at best.
#9 Siena vs. #8 Ohio State
#13 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wake Forest
#15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Michigan State
#12 Wisconsin vs. #5 Florida State
Analysis: I’d really like Siena to win this one if the game wasn’t being played in Dayton – what a lucky break for Thad Matta. As we’ve discussed many times on SFN, Wake Forest is a much better team against powerhouses than underdog squads. Their awful ACCT performance should get their heads straight, but I’m still not sure Jeff Teague is fixable mentally at this point. Cleveland State has a good shot to win – but if the Deacs squeak by, they could catch fire and go a long way. Florida State and Wisconsin should grind out a tough, defensive game. If the Noles survive, this could easily be a Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight team. An elite scorer, great defense, and excellent size make for a potent NCAAT combination – but their first game is a big obstacle.
Media & Sendek Comments
ACCNow has some blurbs on each of the games as well. (Link) Of course, ‘the Observers’ can’t help but pen an article about Herb Sendek; this one written from Scott Fowler from the Charlotte bureau.
The title of the piece is very misleading – “Sendek’s style same as it was with Pack” would lead the reader to infer that Sendek is doing a lot of things similar to how he did things in Raleigh when in fact he has made some great adjustments to his ‘style’. Sendek has ditched his limiting “Princeton offense” that put a ceiling on both the performance and the talent-level of players attracted to the system. He has even shed his stubborn devotion to man-to-man defense and installed a pesky zone that has become one of ASU’s unique trademarks.
When you really read the article with a true depth of knowledge that most of our readers have you will realize that Scott Fowler was doing everything he could to paint and paint and paint a picture that he hoped would stir the pot as opposed to actually share some real information. Take for instance this item near the end:
The coach also pulled off a coup by successfully recruiting Harden, the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year who averages 20.8 points per game. Harden, a lefty, is often described as the most well-known southpaw at Arizona State since golfer Phil Mickelson.
Bringing up James Harden is one of the only things that supports the title of Fowler’s article – ‘Sendek’s style remaining the same’. Unfortunately, Fowler would rather ignore facts to support the premise of his piece at the peril of producing a disjointed article of praise instead of something that actually lived true to its purpose. As Fowler’s more-informed and more-balanced colleague, Joe Giglio, stated this morning:
Plus, there’s a reason Sendek hired James Harden’s AAU coach at ASU. Harden’s a lottery pick.
There is something that is JUST LIKE his style at NC State – Sendek hired Damon Thornton and Kenny Inge’s coach (Mark Phelps) as soon as he got the NC State job to secure Thornton’s waivering commitment at the time just like he hired James Harden’s high school coach to garner Harden’s commitment. There is nothing wrong with it; and it is one of Sendek’s few ‘styles’ that has been the same at ASU as at NC State. Why would Fowler choose to ignore this when it actually supports the supposed premise of the article?
Another component of Sendek’s style that has been consistent at both schools came into clear focus on Saturday when the Sun Devils were playing USC for the Pac-10 Championship. ASU led by 15 points at halftime and completely controlled the first thirty minutes of the…then, disaster slowly struck.
The Sun Devils and All-American guard James Harden only scored six points in the last eight minutes and ten seconds of the game en route to mustering only 63 points for the day. They scored only four points in the last 7:37, which included only one field goal in the last 7:37. They ultimately lost the lead with 30 seconds to go and lost the title to the Trojans.
Wow? Ever seen that script before? If ANYTHING represents the ‘same style Sendek’ as his time at NC State it would be the nationally televised performance just five days ago that took Sendek’s record in major conference championship games to 0-4. Where the hell was Fowler’s article on Sunday morning about Sendek?
But Sendek still wins, too. He took N.C. State to the NCAA Tournament in his final five seasons, and now he’s made it here. While Sendek has coached a dozen NCAA Tournament games, going 6-6, none of his current players have ever been in one.
In three years Sendek has a losing record in the Pac-10 that is just slightly better than his ACC record that was sixteen games under .500 (72-88).
Has more ever been made of someone who in SIXTEEN YEARS of coaching has managed to win a grand total of six NCAA Tournament games while never finishing better than second place in a major conference or ever winning a major conference championship? If that is winning, I want my kid playing in the same youth sports leagues as Scott Fowler’s so that all of the kids will get their trophy for signing up.
As with anyone that is a former part of the Wolfpack family we are pulling for Herb to have success and take the Sun Devils to the promised land; but, in the process, we are pulling for the media to finally be able to report some balance, fact and truth as opposed to shoveling us the kind of bullshit that Scott Fowler shoveled today.
Once again, WRAL and Time Warner Cable have you covered with comprehensive HD coverage.
Duke against Rick Barnes’ Texas in Greensboro on Saturday? Hell yes! Speaking of Barnes (and Tubby Smith), we had some great stuff in our open entry from yesterday including a little video of how to deal with players who don’t want to bust their ass 100% of the time.
In closing, we’ve got a hat tip to March to Madness for linking to the greatest dunk of all-time this week…but that didn’t come from the NCAA Tournament.