Doc Rivers is one happy man: “Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before this afternoon’s game with the Bucks that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Kevin Garnett (sprained right knee) and Glen Davis (sprained right ankle) could return for Friday’s game at San Antonio. Neither player will practice with the Celtics in Chicago tomorrow since they didn’t make the trip. The team won’t practice on their off day Thursday, so if both Garnett and Davis return to play the Spurs Friday, they will do so without getting a practice in.”
by Marcel Mutoni
Phil Jackson has hinted time and again that his stay on the coaching sidelines is close to an end. After next season, Jackson insists that he’ll hang ‘em up, so to speak.
If an NBA owner is able to convince him to return to coaching, though, it certainly won’t be Mark Cuban. According to Phil, Cuban (whose Mavs were in town to play the Lakers yesterday) makes the workplace too stressful a place.
From the Press-Entreprise:
“I don’t think I could work under those conditions. I just don’t,” Jackson said. Then turning to the assembled reporters, he added, “You guys are bad enough.”
Jackson said he imagines it’s a tough transition for players as well. “I think it’s something they have to definitely get used to,” Jackson said. “He’s going to be a rooter, a supporter and probably critique it too. It’s very difficult for players to get used to, but once they’re in the mix, I think they get thick skin and they’re OK.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the vacancy when Rick Carlisle inevitably gets the boot.
Then again, when you’ve grown accustomed to receiving checks from a man like Jerry Buss, it’s kind of hard to imagine working for anyone else.
As if losing to the Clippers at the buzzer wasn’t bad enough: “They lost another game — in the most excruciating manner possible, against the second-worst team in the hemisphere — and now they’ve lost their best player until further notice. Just another night at the office for the Nets, whose season is now officially careening out of control…’Well, the X-rays are negative so I guess that’s the good news,” Harris said. “I know the AC joint is sprained for sure. We’ll see how the MRI will look on the rotator cuff but for the most part right now it’s good news.’”
And back from the college tourneys to the NBA… Shawn Marion dusts off the rocket boosters and puts one over a budding star. You have to bet that Granger wishes he took a little longer to rehab after that foot injury.
by Marcel Mutoni
The video isn’t exactly conclusive as to whether or not Novak stepped out of bounds (with the heel of his foot) before putting the Nets to sleep with a buzzer-beating three. Even more critically, it might not matter one way or another.
According to someone in the know, as long as Novak was in bounds when he released the shot, then that’s all the NBA cares about.
The Star-Ledger reports:
We asked someone who would know - works for the league, saw the play, knows the rules and the parameters, and can’t be named - and he made it simple for us: Even if Novak was out of bounds on the catch, it’s irrelevant.
The call on the court was that the shot was released in time - that was the only thing Danny Crawford’s crew was permitted to overturn when they checked the replay in this particular scenario. If they muffed the non-call (the step-out, which was too close to call from the angle we saw), that’s just tough noogies.
He wasn’t out of bounds when he shot it, and that’s all that mattered. It does not preclude the make in this case. Play stands, Nets lose, and another endgame failure spills over into psychosis.
Sorry, Nets fans. This is but another horrific chapter in your nightmare of a season.
Remember him?: “Thomas was in Las Vegas to tape a television appearance with Bob Knight, his former coach at Indiana, and sportscaster Billy Packer. Thomas said that everything has been going well for him personally, and that he hasn’t missed any significant time in his work for the Knicks. ‘I’ve still been very active, seeing a lot of games and doing a lot of scouting and looking forward to helping (Knicks president Donnie Walsh) with the draft,’ Thomas told The Associated Press.”
Due to too many techs, Jackson is in danger of sitting out B Diddy’s return to Oakland tomorrow night: “If his two technical fouls from Sunday night hold, Stephen Jackson won’t even be at Oracle Arena on Tuesday when Baron Davis finally makes his return to Oakland. Jackson, who was tossed in the third quarter, will be serving a one-game suspension after surpassing the NBA season limit for technical fouls in the game against the Suns.”
by Marcel Mutoni
The local press has yet to figure out if it’s the fastest coaching ejection in League history; they’re far too busy gloating over the fact that they saw it coming from a mile away.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
As Tim Buckley from the Deseret News can attest, I predicted Jerry Sloan’s ejection from Sunday’s game before it even started. You could just see it coming how frustrated Sloan was after Saturday’s triple-overtime loss to Miami.
Now 2:12 into the game? I don’t think anybody could have called that. We tried to find out if it was the quickest coaching ejection in NBA history, but the Elias Sports Bureau doesn’t track ejections since it’s not an official league statistic.
We have a lot of longtime Jazz fans here as well as some pretty savvy researchers. I’m wondering if anybody can remember Sloan getting ejected from a game as fast as he did Sunday. None of the Jazz players could after the game.”I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” Deron Williams said. “He let his voice be heard,” Carlos Boozer added, “and we love him for that, for having our back.”
Of course, Jerry’s quick exit did nothing to stop the Jazz’s slide. The Orlando Magic whooped them, and Utah has now lost three in a row.
It might be time to try another tactic, Mr. Sloan.
by Lang Whitaker
Was watching highlights tonight of the Sixers/Heat game and noticed a shot of Donyell Marshall checking into the game. Donyell’s making $1.2 million this year but has played just 14 games all season, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect him to be in terrific shape. But still…my man looks like he could work in a few crunches. Then again, he came off the bench to score 10 in the fourth and lead the Sixers to the 85-77 win.
“He was well rested,” noted Philly coach Tony DiLeo. Well, apparently.
by DeMarco Williams
Aaah, Selection Sunday. Along with the MLB’s opening day and the NFL’s conference championships, it’s my favorite day of the sports year. You should see me; I’m all smiles. Can’t say the same thing for fans of St. Mary’s, Penn State and Maryland right now nervously waiting to see if their team’s body of work was enough to get NCAA invites. To that end, all I can say is that the teams -Florida State (25-8) and Duke (27-6)- I’m currently staring at have done enough to confidently purchase their suits for the Dance a while back. A win today will be mere icing on the cake - and possibly the cherry to bump them up a seed in the brackets. Time to see who wants it more…
Previous ACC Tournament Live Blogs: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Game 11: No. 3 Duke vs. No. 4 Florida State
-The bands are tuned. The fans are pumped. Dickie V’s looking sharp. Duke assistant/former guard Steve Wojciechowski just made sure his cufflinks are on tight. We’re ready to roll.
-In the last two meetings between these two, the Blue Devils came out on top- 66-58 back on January 10 and 84-81 on March 3. Duke’s Gerald Henderson and FSU’s Toney Douglas were the high men for both of the contests. Henderson probably won’t have to repeat that for a win, but Douglas will need at least 25, I’m thinking. Totally possible.
-If ESPN failed to air the national anthem, you missed a treat. The young lady just KILLED it. Wonderful rendition.
-A couple of random facts about today’s action: Duke and Florida State have never played each other in the tournament… If FSU’s Leonard Hamilton wins, he’ll become the first African-American coach to earn the title.
-Nole Solomon Alabi with the first bucket and block.
-Jon Scheyer with the outside answer. Give him two inches and he’ll get two points.
-But on the flip side, give Douglas three feet and he’ll nail a three. 5-3 FSU.
-Alabi’s got a lot of tools, especially for a freshman. Most seven-footers are kinda ditsy-looking out there (See: Duke’s Brian Zoubek); not Alabi. His feet are good. His hands are soft. With another year under Coach Hamilton, he’ll be pretty special.
-Scheyer’s got five early ones. 9-8 Duke with 15 minutes to go.
-The Blue Devil mascot has “Our House” written on some tape across his forehead. 12-11 Duke with 11:37 in the 1st.
-Henderson might be thinking about those two early meetings. He’s got a quick seven.
-Singler may give’em a run though. He’s got five. By the way, I’ve got a new nickname for him- “Duke Nowitzki.” Ya like it?
-Kyle is feeling it. Knew it was going in before it left his hands… Keep your composure, Noles. Don’t worry about the Duke band chanting “Kyle Sing-ler!” over to the left. Stay focused. 23-11 isn’t that bad.
-Zoubek does a WWE move on Alabi but FSU doesn’t get the call. They do, however, call a timeout. Need it. 29-14 on the scoreboard. 7:07 to go.
-Douglas seems to be trying to make the 15-point comeback all by himself. His looks are decent, but they’re coming off a bit rushed. Plenty of time, young fella, plenty of time.
-The Noles are under 28% from the field right now. 50% from the line. Yuck.
-Nice, acrobatic shot from Nolan Smith. Nice, acrobatic block from Singler.
-Umm, look out below, Nolan. Niiiice bang!
-Douglas’ shot ain’t fallin’. The Noles ain’t winnin’ without it. 35-20 with 47 seconds left.
-Like my man beside me says, this first half ”couldn’t have gone any worst” for Florida State. 35-21 Blue Devils at the break. Douglas has nine points, but he’s just 2-of-8 from the field. Duke’s big three has 29 points and Lance Thomas has grabbed eight boards. Coach Hamilton has his work cut out for him in the locker room.
by Franklyn Calle
On Monday LSU received a verbal commitment from nationally ranked sophomore John Isaac. The 6-4, 210lbs shooting guard picked the Tigers over Ole Mississippi, Florida, Georgia Tech, Texas, and Kansas. Isaac has been averaging over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game for the season. The Leesville, Louisiana, native currently attends Pickering H.S. and is the first commitment of 2011 class for LSU. Head Coach Trent Johnson has one verbal commitment for the 2010 class in Jalen Courtney, a forward from Mississippi. Johnson has two signees for the incoming class of 2009 this fall in Aaron Dotson, a Seattle native shooting guard from Rainer Beach H.S., and Eddie Ludwig, a Metairie, LA, native from Metairie Park Country Day School.
Rutgers landed Nigerian native center Brian Okam when he verbally committed to the Big East School on Tuesday. The senior currently attends Lake Highland Prep School in Orlando, Florida. He did not suit up for Lake Highland this year because he no longer had eligibility. After arriving to the United States from Nigeria almost three years ago, Okam spent his first two years at Archbishop Carroll in Washington D.C. and Montrose Christian in Maryland before ending up at Lake Highland this year. The 7-0 center picked Rutgers over Georgia Tech. The Scarlet Knights have two commitments for the 2009 class in Dane Miller, a 6-7 small forward from Rush Henrietta H.S. in Rochester, New York, and Austin Johnson, a 6-7 forward from Blair Academy in New Jersey. Okam ranks among the top 15 centers in the nation.
One of the top shooting guards in the west coast, Jordan Mackie, gave the University of San Diego a verbal commitment on Wednesday. The 6-4 shooting guard attends Dorsey H.S. in Los Angeles. Mackie becomes the fourth commit for San Diego in their 2009 recruiting class. The Toreros have already signed Cameron Miles-a 6-1 point guard from Skyline H.S. in Texas, Chris Manresa-a 6-8 power forward from Tesoro H.S. in California, and Ken Rancifer-a 6-6 small forward from El Cerrito H.S. in California.
George Washington received a verbal commitment from Harvey, Illinois, native Tim Johnson. The 6-4 shooting guard is currently finishing up a prep year at Lee Academy in Maine. Johnson becomes the Colonials’ fifth commitment for the 2009 recruiting class which includes Kinley Branch-a 6-5 shooting guard from Stone Mountain H.S. in Georgia, Dwayne Smith- a 6-6 shooting guard from Bridgton Academy in Maine, David Pellom-a 6-8 small forward from Charis Prep in North Carolina, and Daymon Warren-a 6-9 power forward Worcester Academy in Massachusetts.
Small forward Christian Webster gave a verbal commitment to Harvard. The 6-5 senior currently attends Landon H.S. in Bethesda, Maryland, where he averaged over 23 points per game. He received interest from others Ivey League schools as well from the Atlantic 10, Patriot League, and Colonial Athletic Association. Webster now joins 2009 Crimson recruits Brandyn Curry- a 6-1 point guard from Hopewell H.S. in North Carolina, Dee Giger- a 6-6 shooting guard from Christ School in North Carolina, Kyle Casey- a 6-6 small forward from Brimmer & May in Massachusetts, and Jeff Georgatos- a 6-8 power forward from Episcopal School of Dallas in Dallas, Texas.
by Tzvi Twersky
Kevin Broadus sat, eyes locked on the ground, hands clasped in prayer. Suit jacket hanging loosely over his large frame, Broadus appeared tired. He wore the look of a man who would indeed say he needed to “get away from the big city and all of its hassles,” like he said over cell phone static in January.
It’s been a long season for his 22-8 Binghamton Bearcats, one that began with high hopes, traversed some bumps and now had the chance to fulfill the goal of winning the conference crown and gaining a bid to The Tourney. All the Bearcats needed to do was defeat the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)—an upstart 15-16 squad that entered the American East Tournament as the sixth seed.
As the American East Coach of the Year closed his eyes and mumbled a few words, his players stood on the court anxiously awaiting the opening tip. Junior guard D.J Rivera, took a few steps to the left and a few to the right, testing his leg; the one injured in the semifinals a week earlier. Just across the mid-court logo fellow guard Malik Alvin closed his eyes, too, imbibing the whole scene through his sealed eyelids.
“It’s a special feeling,” Alvin had told me a few days earlier, after defeating University of New Hampshire in the semifinal game. “[And] it [feels] even better for a guy like me who, as a kid, would have never even thought about going to college…to be a part of a historic team, it’s just an honor.”
While the talented UTEP transfer was vaguely referring to his days as a child growing up on the rough, concrete streets of North Philadelphia, this is exactly the perceived problem that Peter Thamel wrote about in his New York Times column that crucified Binghamton University and Coach Broadus for recruiting players that do not belong at the prestigious University.
In that article Thamel argued, among other things, that Binghamton was risking its good academic standing by allowing Broadus to recruit players with questionable backgrounds both in and out of the classroom.
This is not the first time that Thamel has written about Broadus in The Times. He previously vilified him while Broadus served as an assistant at Georgetown. The accusation leveled against him then? A similar charge of helping John Thompson III recruit players from “diploma mills.”
There are several ways to view Thamel’s article on Binghamton. If you agree or disagree strongly, it’s either dead-on or straight lies. The players are either unqualified convicts, or angels who are being dirtied by a reporter with a hard-on for ruining their coach’s career. The third way of viewing the situation, the way the casual Sunday Times reader should view the article, is that the truth probably lies somewhere in between. The players at Binghamton are neither angels nor demons. They are humans.
Yes, Alvin has a criminal record. And yes, Rivera and Tiki Mayben may have been academically ineligible at their last stop (St. Joe’s, for Rivera) or at the original school that recruited them (Syracuse, for Mayben). Does that mean that they do not deserve a second shot at earning their college diploma?
Thamel maintains that these players (among others) should not be at Binghamton, deeming it too risky for the school, and scoring it a loss even if the team wins. What Thamel does not assess, however, is the human capital involved here.
Malik Alvin originally attended UTEP before exiting after one season, in part due to academic issues. He proceeded to enroll at a junior college before Coach Broadus sold him on Binghamton. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Alvin got into some trouble with the law—stealing condoms from a store, and accidentally toppling over an old woman on the way out. In spite of this crime, he is a kind-hearted kid (who, like all students, sometimes makes poor choices). Sure, according to Thamel’s math Alvin has three strikes against him, but does that preclude him from deserving the opportunity to earn a college degree? Certainly he should not have broken the law, and maybe he should never have been accepted into Binghamton in the first place, but let’s look at in a different light—let’s look at the whole institution of high school and college ball in a different light.
As has been said repeatedly on this website (as well as many others), vast amounts of people profit from high school and college athletes. From their handlers, to their coaches, to the people who arrange tournaments starring them, all the way to ESPN who puts them on TV, many people earn their living on these players’ backs. Meanwhile, the players receive no monetary compensation for being the driving force behind an entire industry. The only reward they receive is the chance to go to college on scholarship. And, while that’s not too bad of a proposition for many of them, for some it represents a catch-22: They don’t have the grades—because of time spent refining their money-making skill—or the book smarts to academically keep up with college classes. For kids who fit into that category, what do they get in return for their services? They still get into college. Why? Because it’s still all about the bottom-line: The colleges, the coaches, TV networks, they all need these players to keep the viewers watching and the money flowing. And so, the way I see it, even if the player does not belong in college, the least that can be done is for them to be allowed to play, and graduate with their diplomas in hand.
Applying the above to Alvin’s case: Sure, he did some things that would have had the average college student put on probation or denied admission in the first place, but he deserves a second chance—a repayment of sorts for his lifetime given to ball and to other people’s pockets. And if Binghamton didn’t give him the chance someone else would have.
Another issue with Thamel and his article is that he focuses on Binghamton (after first trying to ostracize Broadus at Georgetown). Why did he choose to go after one University? Why not confront the whole establishment? Something about his continued focus on Broadus just doesn’t sit right. If targeting schools that recruit academically troubled students is his personal crusade, than he should do so with a wider range of schools and coaches in his scope.
Thamel made another contention in his article, one that a skeptic would challenge and that many people on campus are decrying as untrue. The argument woven into the column was that many people at Binghamton are opposed to the school’s elevation to the D-I sports level—a move made eight years ago. One of the main reasons the article cited was the acceptance of academically unqualified athletes into school. Adjunct professors were quoted, as were disgruntled employees and rival coaches. They all spoke of a lowered standard and trouble-making athletes. As usual, however, there is a flip-side to this coin.
“The campus has been crazy,” says D.J Rivera, one of the players under-fire. “We have a lot of support.”
Approximately 10 years ago the very same mountainous campus was filled with strife: racial, religious and otherwise. Students only associated with the other students who were similar to them. Clear divides were drawn between races and religions. It was a hostile environment to live in, let alone attend school. Now, you could try to make the argument that the Bearcats are dragging down academics at Binghamton U, but don’t deny what the team is certainly doing—uniting a previously fractured campus with each and every win. What’s more important the statistics or the harmonious relations being forged? Even stat junkies know the correct answer to that one.
David Okon, a senior from Philadelphia—like key players, Rivera and Alvin—represents the half of the school body that Thamel missed “[The] jump to D-1 was a necessary thing. For years now Binghamton has been planning to make a bigger name for itself across the country. They dropped the SUNY from their name and are also renovating half the campus. The switch to D-1 nine years ago was a good first step… and now we’re ready to dance.”
As Okon refers to, aside from the February article that embroiled the University in scandal, the season has been unlike any other seen in Vestal, NY.
In addition to winning 22 games (before the conference final was played) and finishing first in the American East, the Bearcats were awarded a spot in CollegeInsider.com’s list of top mid-major programs, alongside Davidson, Gonzaga, Butler and other more prominent mid-majors. Additionally, in spite of all the criticism, Broadus was awarded the title of American East Basketball Coach of the Year–an award voted on by his coaching peers and their athletic directors, as his team was victorious in seven more games than the year prior to his taking over the team. The fans also recognized the magnitude of the team’s success, voting D.J Rivera Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, and filling up the Events Center to the tune of 3,782 fans a game—a league high. In addition, on an individual level, senior forward Reggie Fuller was named to the third team All-League and the All-Defense team, with his averages of 10 points per, 7 rebounds, and a block and a half. Joining him on All-League team were juniors Tiki Mayben (13 points and 5 assists) and D.J Rivera ( 25th in the country and a league-best 20.2 point, and 6.5 boards), who occupied spots on the second team. Rivera was also named a Mid-Major All-American by FoxSports.com—earning him well-deserved national prestige.
Accompanying all of those awards, however, was a slap in the face. Rivera, a Second-Team All League player, was unquestionably one of the top-five players in the American East. Due to a “blackballing” of his participation this season, though, he was not named to the First-Team All League. A juvenile move coming from adult coaches. Rivera did not deserve to be overshadowed by American East coaches’ discontent with the NCAA rules; the team did not deserve to be ridiculed for Thamel’s discontent.
John Hartrick, Binghamton University’s Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications, says that the University does want to get in a “‘pissing’ match with The Times,” and will do its best to overcome the added adversity. Likewise, Coach Broadus decided not to respond to the article. Instead, he took out his anger and turned his focus towards the opponents in the American East tournament. As a whole, Binghamton U. released a statement in response to the article:
“From our perspective, the New York Times article did not accurately reflect some of the basic facts. Our primary goal at Binghamton has been and will continue to be the growth and development of all dimensions of the University. Our participation in Division I is a small but strategic part of these goals. As a fledgling program, no different from others, we face similar challenges and successes. Any suggestion that we have compromised our high standards and excellent reputation to achieve this goal is misleading.”
With that, the issue was laid to rest—for now—in Vestal, as the Bearcats have come face-to-face with the NCAA Tournament and now stand one game away from their long-awaited destination.
Playing in the school’s first nationally televised game, I couldn’t make out what Kevin Broadus was whispering in prayer prior to tipping-off in the League final against UMBC: maybe it was a prayer for victory, maybe it was for his much maligned players, maybe it was for his own beleaguered self and supposed misdeeds, or maybe it was just a man taking a moment to reflect. And that’s exactly what Kevin Broadus is: a man looking to lead a team and a school to the next level—the national stage—no matter your opinion of his methods.
***And that’s what he did on Saturday morning, when the Bearcats defeated UMBC 61-51, advancing to their first ever NCAA Tournament, as a school-record 5,342 screaming fans attended.
by Joey Whelan
Greetings everyone and welcome to championship night in the Big East. It has been a phenomenal week to say the least. There have been upsets, outstanding individual play and of course The Epic on Thursday night that anyone who witnessed will remember for the rest of their lives. Tonight brings us two outstanding teams vying for the ultimate bragging rights in arguably the ultimate conference.
Syracuse has been here before; in fact they’ve been here 13 times and have won 5 Big East titles. The Orange have had 35 players make the all-tournament team since the inception of the event back in 1980. The last time ‘Cuse won came in 2006, it was their second in a row.
For Louisville this is a first. The still relative newcomers to the conference have never made the championship round and prior to this season had amassed two wins in the event over the years. Terrence Williams is the only Cardinal to ever make the all-tournament team. All of those facts are meaningless tonight though as only one team can be crowned the Beast of the East for the 2009 season.
Louisville, the regular season champ, knocked off Providence and Villanova to get here. Earl Clark has posted two solid games so far and the rest of the production has been by committee. While Samardo Samuels dominated inside on Thursday, Jerry Smith got hot from the perimeter last night. Terrence Williams has been solid but has yet to really go off for a big game in this tournament as of yet. Something tells me that could change tonight.
Syracuse is of course the story tonight though. The Orange have won three games in three days to get here, but in terms of total minutes have essentially played four games. Super point guard Jonny Flynn has played an unreal 162 out of 165 minutes in three days; don’t tell me he isn’t tired. That’s really what this will come down to, how much do the Orange have left in the tank? Even when well rested Louisville has the advantage at essentially every position minus the PG spot. The Cardinals are bigger, longer and more athletic, but as we’ve seen, inconsistent.
The crowd is most definitely throwing the majority of its support behind Syracuse, and you better believe its a rocking house at the Garden tonight. This is what March is about. This is what college basketball is about. The Big East season is about to conclude and you can bet its going to be a dramatic finish. Tip off is next in the Big Apple.
Previous Big East Tournament Live Blogs: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Championship Game: No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 1 Louisville
– Louisville’s starters are announced to the tune of Biggies “Hypnotize”. That should be worth ten points to start the game.
– Devendorf drills a three from the top of the key to get things going. I’m not sure what’s more amazing, the fact that he was so wide open, or that he kept his mouth shut after nailing the shot.
– Devendorf hits another three to put ‘Cuse up 6-0, but Earl Clark answers with an elbow jumper at the other end. I have a feeling that the junior is going to create some problems for the Orange’s 2-3 zone given his size and ability to score from mid-range. Jerry Smith swipes one from Flynn and lays in the easy two. The ‘Ville leads it 7-6 three minutes in.
– I know I’ve been hating on him all week, but the more I see him the more I feel like the Syracuse Orange is a reject Disney World character who is supporting himself by freelancing at a major University that happens to share his surname.
– The game is starting to get a very back and forth rhythm going. Pint sized Preston Knowles gets a tip in to go amongst the Orange bigs and Rick Jackson gets back to back flushes to go for Syracuse. Rick Pitino not liking what he sees from his front court on the glass calls time. With 12:38 remaining in the half give the Cards a one point lead at 13-12.
– I think fatigue may finally be starting to get the best of some of Syracuse’s players. Andy Rautins who has been so money all week when given open looks from the perimeter has been short on his first few open looks from deep. He gets called for a foul at the other end trying to pin a Knowles shot off the glass. Onuaku nearly takes the basket out of its foundation at the other end with a two handed stuff.
– The under 12 break finds Louisville ahead 20-14. The Cardinals are creating all kinds of problems with their full court pressure right now and have gotten three easy buckets in transition as a result of their quick hands. We’re also seeing Jim Boehiem go to his bench a little bit early in the game to rest some of his key players in the early going.
– Clark comes off a curl screen and hits another elbow jumper. He elevates so high on his shots that I have a hard time believing he has ever been blocked on the perimeter. Flynn comes the other way and is bumped hard going to the basket but the refs rule it a no call. A rather boisterous Syracuse fan in a tuxedo t-shirt has some choice words for the zebras. He is given reason to cheer though when Onuaku puts down another thunderous flush on the restart. It’s 25-22 Louisville with just over 8 remaining.
– The ‘Ville gets called for a three second violation and we’re at the under 8 official timeout. Syracuse is keeping it close which I figured the would during the first half. The big question will be if they have anything left in the tank to keep bringing the pressure for the final twenty. The other question, can Louisville play smart enough basketball to avoid letting the Orange hang around. If there is one team I don’t want to see in a close game at this point in the year it is Syracuse.
– Gerry McNamara (back for another game) is shown on the big screen and seconds later Rautins gets his first three to go. Hmmm, I wonder.
– Preston Knowles is having himself a ball game. No. 2 drills his second three and with 12 points has already doubled up his regular season scoring average. That last bomb by the way, about a step behind NBA range. Devendorf answers with a leak out though and puts Syracuse ahead 29-28. The Garden explodes.
– Devendorf buries a three from the corner right in front of the Louisville bench and glares at the Cardinals pep band. Pitino takes a timeout (second of the half) and the Orange have pushed the lead to four. Team of destiny perhaps?
– Terrence Williams gets a nice lay in and coming back the other way Onganaet throws down a flush but gets his legs taken out. Dude takes a brutal fall landing right on his back. After a few minutes on the floor he is able to make his way back to the bench under his own power. Paul Harris standing in knocks down the freebie for a 35-30 ‘Cuse lead with 1:18 to go until the break.
–The half comes to an end with Rautins drilling another bomb and the Cards proving unable to score in the final seconds at the other end. Can you believe it? Syracuse is ahead 38-30 at the break and has all the momentum going their way. I also just got word from a buddy who is watching this game on TV that Onganaet has been cleared to come back in.
– Former Syracuse greats Billy Owens and Derrick Coleman just walked by and into the media area which is where I’m heading right now for a snack. I’ll return in a little bit with some analysis of the first half.
by DeMarco Williams
The proverbial hat goes off to the ACC’s young men for yesterday’s overall performances. Three games decided by three points or less and a coming-out party for Maryland have set the bar extremely high for today’s action. Still, with enticing match-ups between UNC and FSU and Maryland and Duke on the rainy afternoon slate, it shouldn’t be hard to duplicate. Let’s see how they do…
Previous ACC Tournament Live Blogs: Day 1 | Day 2
Game 9: No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida State
-Though the crowd’s about 75/25 in the baby blue’s favor, the Seminoles don’t look the least bit fazed. They come out fired up, 6-2 with 18:45 to go.
-There’s no Ty Lawson again. That means Bobby Frasor has the unenviable task of “guarding” Nole Toney Douglas. Good luck with that. 15:59 to go in the 1st and Douglas has four. An FSU fan behind me yells “Mismatch!” every time the two are eye-to-eye. Score: 8-8.
-Wayne Ellington with a nice scoop. Larry Drew with the nice no-look to Ed Davis. The Heels with the nice early run. 12-8 with 14:16 to go.
-Ellington sets Davis up for a nice slam but the kid can’t finish. Ouch. FSU’s Ryan Reid and Ellington then go up for a loose ball and there’s a slight collision. Ouch again. Still 12-8.
-Tar Heel Deon Thompson gets the emphatic slam. Haven’t talked about the Cali junior much this week. He’s been out there; just has yet to separate himself from the forward pack. Maybe today will be the day.
by Lang Whitaker
This has nothing to do with hoops but I had to share. Spent about an hour looking at photos last night. This site is a total tour de force.The ’80s and ’90s were some weird times.
Found via Andrew Sullivan.
by Joey Whelan
And then there were four. It’s taken three days, 12 games and 38 hours of blogging, but we’ve reached the Big East Semifinals. At least three of these teams will be in action after this week when the NCAA Tournament starts (Syracuse, Villanova and Louisville) and with a win over Pitt last night, I think West Virginia may have punched their ticket as well.
I got some much needed sleep after last night’s 6 OT thriller between Connecticut and Syracuse. I still can’t believe that happened to be perfectly honest; it went beyond anything you could conceive of in a move or even a video game. For the rest of this blog though I will be referring to last night simply as “The Epic” because I can’t think of any other phrase that comes close to doing it justice.
I just wolfed down some dinner and I’m all set for the (only) two games that are on tap for tonight. Random site note; if you did nothing else but eat the food at a conference tournament you would be able to tell what round is being played that day. The quality of the food is directly proportional to the round. Day one at the Garden was salad, a sandwich bar and hot dogs. By last night we were being given the option of grilled chicken and roasted potatoes. Tonight: we’re going with fish, always classy. Of course the never ending hot dog basin is still an option for those who wish to keep it simple.
About 15 minutes until we get underway with game one, I’ll be be back momentarily with a preview of Louisville and Villanova.
Previous Big East Tournament Live Blogs: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Game 13: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Villanova
I knew money was tight in the NBA, but damn: “Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard took it to the next level in this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk competition by changing in a phone booth to become Superman. Now you have a chance to own that phone booth and an autographed Dwight Howard jersey. Beginning Monday, March 16 at 4 p.m. ET the auction for the actual phone booth from the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk competition will begin online at auctions.nba.com. The phone booth stands 94″ high and weighs 170 pounds. Included in this package is a pro-cut 2009 NBA All-Star Eastern Conference jersey signed by the Dwight Howard at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.”
by Matt Caputo
Originally published in SLAM 127
After going undrafted in the ’05 NBA Draft, Will Conroy was left looking for a place to play. It might not have seemed like much at first, but the NBA D-League had a spot for the former University of Washington point man and the Huskies’ all-time assist leader. He’s now the little League’s leading scorer and a quick first step away from a full-time position in the NBA.
After playing four seasons in the Down-Low, Conroy has matured into a lethal offensive weapon. In 2007, he earned two NBA call-ups, one from the Clippers and a second from the Grizzlies. Since then, he’s been in consideration for spots with the likes of the Cavs, Bobcats and Lakers. While he hasn’t been able to stick yet, his official stints have been a big part of Conroy’s solid work experience.
“This is the fastest route to the NBA for guys who don’t get drafted,” says Conroy, whose college teammates included first-round picks Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson. “There is a guy or two on every team down here that could be a full-time player in the League.”
Now, Conroy is working toward another shot in the show. His stats for this season in Albuquerque speak volumes about the maturation of his game—26.4 points, eight assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per night. He’s had eight 30-point games, ranks fourth in assists and recently made his second D-League All-Star Game appearance in Phoenix. Doesn’t seem like such a bad job after all.
by Tzvi Twersky
Trey Johnson—Now in his second season in the D, Johnson has found himself dominating opponents every time he steps on the court. With season averages of 20.1 points per game, just under 5 assists and over 3 boards, the 6-6, 216-pound Johnson is more than ready for an NBA call-up.
Blake Ahearn—The Spurs made this 6-2, 190-pound scorer the first call-up of the ’08-09 NBA season. Now playing for the Dakota Wizards, he is averaging 24 ppg and 6 apg and had a great ASW by winning the D’s Three-Point Shootout and co-MVP of the All-Star Game.
Eddie Gill—For a man who has been in the A on and off for years, the news that the Bucks called him up February 10th shouldn’t have been shocking. The 6-0 guard, who was averaging nearly a double-double in the D-League (16.2 PPG, 8.6 APG), carries the hopes of his hometown Colorado 14ers on his back, as well as every
by Marcel Mutoni
Update: NBCphiladelphia.com reports that no charges will be filed against Marko Jaric for an assault that allegedly took place three days before his wedding last month.
You know, for a guy who plays for a gawd-awful team, and isn’t exactly a superstar himself, Marko Jaric has been in the news quite a bit this year.
This time, however, it’s got nothing to do with his lovely wife, Adriana Lima.
According to SI.com, Jaric is the mysterious Grizzly under investigation for sexual assault:
A Philadelphia woman has accused Memphis Grizzlies guard Marko Jaric of sexual assault, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told SI.com. The incident allegedly occurred in March when the Grizzlies were in Philadelphia to play the 76ers.
This will make dinner conversation at the Jaric-Lima household more than a tad awkward.
The 6-9 freshman’s cram started a stream of worried rationalizations from Pitt fans about yesterday’s 74-60 beatdown at the Garden. Could losing to the Bob Huggins’-led Mountaineers actually be a good thing for the Tournament? Considering the Panthers might have just lost its No. 1-seed, fans better do more than rationalizing. Update: A stream has finally arrived.
by Alan Paul
I grew up on Pitt basketball. It may not have been much during the 70s and 80s but it was what we had in Pittsburgh and it was, in fact, a lot of fun. I went to virtually every home game from early elementary school until I graduated form high school in 1984, most of them of them with my brother and father. Those years incorporated a lot of pretty mediocre teams, but also some tremendously exciting basketball played in the close confines of musty old Fitzgerald Field House.
The relative small-timeiness of the program also presented opportunities: It was easy to sit court side, to get to know the players and even to watch some practices. We had one nutty family friend who often drove us to and from games in his Pacer (Google that car, kids) when my father had to work and who had some sort of insider connection/groupie type relationship with the team. Thanks to him, we often ended up in the Pitt locker room after games and ended up hanging around chatting with players and coaches from both teams. Once, Villanova had some sort of transportation problem (I think that their bus failed to show up) and I’ll never forget a grizzled Rollie Massimin0–who seemed ancient but probably wasn’t much older than I am now–turning to us and saying, “Kids, don’t ever become a coach.”
These are indelible memories, moments which helped fuel my love for basketball and give me a life-long devotion to Pitt basketball, good bad and ugly. So I was more than happy to offer up a little bit of editing help when a message from my old friend, neighbor and summer camp counselor Mike Lowenstein appeared in my email box last year. He was working on a book about Pitt basketball and he wanted to know what I thought.
I thought the early version I saw was a great read and I still do now that We All We Got: Pitt Basketball in the Golden Era has been published. Mike is a true fan and the book is all about his love for the team and the game and the way that watching basketball together has drawn his family–he has three grown children– closer. Mike has great insight into Pitt’s program and college basketball. I caught up with him in New York, while he was in town on his annual pilgrimage to the Big East tournament.
SLAM: What gives you hope that this Pitt team will be different and do better than the previous ones, which have not been able to get past the Sweet 16?
Mike Lowenstein: Except for maybe the 2003 team, this is the most complete team Pitt has had. It is deeper and faster than that team and can score more (although they are not yet as good on defense). More specifically, they have the following things going for them:
1. Blair is an overwhelming force. The only thing that has stopped him is foul trouble.
2. Young is a versatile scorer when he plays within the offense.
3. Fields is a proven senior point guard and a great leader.
4. They run better than most people think.
5. They shoot better than most people think.
They are almost certain to get a 1 seed and statistically, 1 seeds win nearly twice as often as any other seeds.
SLAM: A lot of people believe that Pitt has put too much emphasis on the Big East tournament in recent years, which was worn them out for the tournament. Well, now they lost in the first round after making seven of the past eight finals. Are you concerned heading into the NCAA tournament?
ML: I am pretty concerned. This is a very good team. They went 28-3 in a great league. But they are not their healthiest, which is just the breaks, and they are not playing their best right now. Especially with Fields playing hurt they struggle on defense with teams that can spread them out and penetrate. But we never give up on them.
Maybe a week off to rest and refocus will be the best thing but I don’t subscribe to the theory that the Big East tournament runs have hurt them. Pitt’s success in the Big East Tournament has been a big part of how they have built the program. I don’t think Pitt has put too much emphasis on the Big East whether it wore them out or not — and for the most part I don’t think it did so. Their play in the Big East Tournament has coincided with their play in the NCAA. Pitt has made four Sweet Sixteens in the past seven years and in each year they made the Big East Finals. The one year before this year that they did not make the Big East Finals –2005 — they lost in the first round in both the Big East and NCAAs, which is not a happy thought right now.
I just got back from watching UConn and Syracuse play six overtimes. I didn’t see either of them holding anything back. It was a truly epic, incredible game. Who would want to say it was in any way a bad thing that both teams tried so hard?
SLAM: So how disappointed are you with the WVU loss? And how concerned are you about Levance Fields’ injury?
ML: I’m very disappointed–although frankly more by the fact that it was a sub-par performance than by the loss to a good West Virginia team that played a superb game. The one exception I would make to going all out in a conference tournament is that I would err on the side of not pushing an injured player. Whether Pitt did that with Fields only they and he would know, but Fields is such a competitor it is hard to keep him out.
I am concerned about not only his health but also Blair’s. Since he banged knees with a Seton Hall player–and remember he’s had two knee surgeries in high school–Blair has had three games in a row with less than 10 rebounds for the first time this year. Fouls are a part of that, but he also has not looked like quite the same overwhelming force on the boards.
SLAM: Pitt has achieved an incredible amount of success without any McDonald’s All Americans. Does that give you extra pride as a fan? Do you think it has also been the ultimate reason for their lack of March success?
ML: I touched on this in my book. Until recently Pitt has recruited almost all “seconds,” players lacking one thing or another that has kept the biggest powers from recruiting them. But they go to work, get better, play hard, stay four years, win 27 games a year and win their share against the best of the best–UConn, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown, Duke. It is very satisfying to watch it happen.
For example, I have great respect for UConn and the Pitt-UConn rivalry. I was recently in Connecticut and saw a listing of UConn players in the NBA. From the past seven years there were about eight NBA players and five are high-end players: Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, Emeka Okafor and Charlie Villanueva. Pitt has Aaron Gray at the end of the Bulls bench. Yet Pitt is 7-6 against UConn the past eight years.
Blair was an exception. Whatever his ranking, and it was all over the board, he could play for anybody from the day he got here. Chris Taft was almost that way, and it is long forgotten how important he was to the continuity that has enabled this program to accomplish what it has.
Has it been the ultimate reason holding them back? (I am a little resistant to the term “lack of March success.”) Maybe. They have had teams that could have gone deeper, especially in 2003. It certainly would have been easier with a couple of the UConn players I mentioned above.
SLAM: Next year, they are finally getting that true blue chip recruit. Your thoughts?
ML: Dante Taylor sounds like both a top recruit and a Pitt-style player. I have no concerns about him, but other schools also get players like him. If Blair should stay, Pitt should be great inside. My concerns are for a perimeter player who can get his own shot as Sam Young does, and, most of all, for a point guard to emerge to continue the 10 year line of Brandin Knight, Carl Krauser and Levance Fields upon which so much of this program has been built. It is not clear if they have that player. But Pitt has been very good for eight years and I will assume they will find a way to be very good again.
SLAM: When Ben Howland went to UCLA in 2003 and Jamie Dixon took over, were you confident he could continue and build upon the success? I was not.
ML: I wanted them to hire Jamie. Usually I think hiring an assistant is a bad idea (although Tom Izzo has certainly been great.) But they had played such a special brand of basketball under Ben Howland and hiring Jamie gave it the best chance of continuing.
SLAM: Who has been your favorite Pitt player to watch during this resurgence? How about your top five?
ML: Brandin Knight, without question, for me and I believe for my whole family. My top 5 would include Knight, DeJuan Blair, Jaron Brown, Aaron Gray and Carl Krauser, although Carl gets an asterisk because my son and I fought about Carl for three years. That leaves out some great players–Levance Fields, Chevy Troutman, Julius Page, for example.
SLAM: How about your favorite opposing player?
ML: I would have to say Emeka Okafor. Such a great college player and he carried himself like a prince. Plus, he played in all three Pitt-UConn Big East Finals which, as a group, are the greatest basketball thrills for me, even though Pitt lost two of them.
SLAM: A lot of non-fans consider sports a frivolous waste of time. A big part of your book is the way that Pitt basketball has brought your family closer. What are your thoughts on this?
ML: Our family–not just our immediate family, but also our extended family–approaches college basketball, especially Pitt basketball, in a way that is meaningful to us and that we have shared together over many years. As I tried to explain in the book, we take the journey with them, and with each other, every year. When the kids are away, it is often how we get together with them, or we get calls and text messages during the games. Different families do different things together, that help them stay connected with each other. This is one of the things we do.
It also helps that Pitt has had a very positive basketball program in this decade. Not just that they have won a lot of basketball games. They are trying to build something that will last. You hear coach after coach say that they want to build their program the way Pitt has built its program. It has added something positive to our community that simply did not exist ten years ago. We believe in that and we want to support it. And we do
by DeMarco Williams
Day 1 of the ACC tourney saw the NCAA tournament hopes of one team (Miami) dashed and those of three others (Maryland, Virginia Tech and Boston College) carry on for another day. Today, that trio, along with the Cinderella Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, face the big boys. And while we can’t promise any six-overtime thrillers at the Georgia Dome today, UNC, Duke, Wake and all the rest battling for seedings and invitations promise a good day of action. SLAM will do its best to keep up…
Previous ACC Tournament Posts: Day 1
Game 5: No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech
-Know how you can tell that today is different than yesterday? Well, besides the sea of baby blue in the audience, ESPN’s Jimmie Dykes is in the building! Nah, but seriously, the atmosphere is much more lively today than yesterday. I can only imagine how the Deam Dome feels in late February.
-Okay, Ty Lawson. I see him. He’s shadowed by a trainer. He is in uniform. But he is not in the starting lineup… We’ll see how this one plays out.
-It’s amazing how much livelier today’s action is compared to yesterday’s. Every move on the floor, every whistle, is getting some sort of reaction from the clearly UNC-slated crowd.
-I don’t see any early lulls in UNC’s action without Lawson in there. They look okay. Just as long as they find an answer for A.D. Vassallo. He’s got five early. 11-4 Va Tech.
-The Hokies appear confident that they can give the country’s top-ranked team a game. I like this guard Michael Delaney a lot. He’s got a nice, composed game about him. He just found Cheick Diakite, who’s holding his own too, for two quick scores. 18-13 Hokies.
-Tyler Hansbrough hasn’t done much yet. Bobby Frasor, Ty’s replacement, gets the ball into him but he loses it. The next time down though, Hansbrough knocks one down. 23-15 Hokies with 8:19 left.
-There’s a controversial charge call against VA Tech. The crowd doesn’t just erupt; half of the reporters do too. It was a very suspect call. Not a minute later, the Heels are called for one of their own. Aaah, karma. Timeout on the floor. 23-17, Hokies.
-Frasor isn’t Lawson, but he isn’t expected to be either. Score a few points. Get the ball into Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington. Don’t make any mistakes. Move outta the way. Kinda simple, really. And he’s doing just that. UNC’s only down five with five minutes left.
-Delaney drops another one. He’s got six.
-Carolina’s found another answer, freshman Ed Davis. He’s got six too. 34-29, Hokies.
by DeMarco Williams
All right, Big East. The ACC has let you solo shine for a day, but now it’s time for some real hoops action. Man, do y’all understand that this conference has an eight- and nine-seed, Miami and Virginia Tech, with 35 combined wins? Yet, here they are, trying to convince the selection committee that just because you finish 7-9 in conference doesn’t mean you’re not a NCAA tourney-caliber team. Craaazy.
But whatever. The days leading up to Thursday’s tip at the Georgia Dome have been filled with stories about tickets going unsold (the recession) and memories of the freak tragic tornado hitting downtown Atlanta during the SEC Tournament almost exactly a year ago (the depression).
Inside the Dome today, there’s another natural disaster lurking- the bubble-sitting Miami Hurricanes (18-13). Both they and their opponents, the Virginia Tech Hokies (17-13), need this game and, maybe, a few others over the weekend to feel good about their chances of an NCAA invite. Here’s how they did…
Game 1: No. 9 Miami vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech
– The Georgia Dome is extremely organized. Uniformed help is all over. Signs are clear and understandable. Things are so tight that, during a moment when a guard lets writers pass through a walkway at the same time players are coming off the court after warm-ups, this woman, who appears to be an ACC front-office type, scolds the guy about letting us pass. Loudly. In front of everyone. Sad.
– Jack McClinton, Miami’s do-everything guard, gets the Skip Prosser Award, an honor seemingly given for doing well on the field and in the classroom. Good stuff. But that haircut –Think: P-Diddy Mohawk meets Wesley Snipes in Blade- not so much…
– Hmm, like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was saying, is pretty light. The official number is somewhere around 26,000, but I can’t see over 20,000 being in the building right now.
– Nerves are all over the place. You can tell by all of the clumsy ball movement and fouls. First team to call down may have the advantage.
– Oh my, this McClinton has some serious handles. And he’s hella quick. An energetic bunch of the Miami faithful is beside me. Somebody in the crowd goes, “Take it to the hoop, Jack!” Don’t know about that, but he does take three early shots and missing them all. He’s on the bench around the 15-minute mark.
– 12-2 start for Virginia Tech. But like the Hokies reporter besides me says, “They’ve done this before.”
– The U’s Cyrus McGowan is pretty active underneath. I like that. Definitely see him and Va. Tech’s Jeff Allen battling some in the interior.
– Finally hear from the Virginia Tech band with 11:47 left. Maybe their director got stuck in traffic on Northside Drive. Geez, it’s nuts out there.
– The only thing worst than the Hokies’ musical timeliness is Miami’s shooting. If it’s better than 30%, I’d be shocked. My new Hokie friend beside me says it’s 27%.
– My Hokie colleague goes “Oh Lord!” when VT’s Cheick Diakite takes a jumper. It touches hardly anything… I now understand the outburst.
– Today’s PA announcer is REALLY struggling. I’ve never heard a guy say “I’m sorry” or “Check that…” so many times during a game. It’s kind of annoying.
– McClinton, a 20ppg guy during the year, has zero points with four minutes left in the half. Hokie guards Dorenzo Hudson and Malcolm Delaney are putting the clamps on dude.
– Jeff Allen is quietly doing his thing. He’s got six points and hustle plays that’ll never show up on ESPN. Plus, he’s doing a good job on McClinton during the switches… well, until Jack finally hits a teardrop with about three minutes left.
– McClinton hits a jumper. Might he be heating up? The Hurricane faithful is definitely standing up, feeling the momentum go there way some. After being down by double figures during most of the sloppy, relatively-uneventful first half, Miami’s fought back to a 28-24 deficit at the half.
– One Hokie name that went unmentioned in the first is leading scorer A.D. Vassallo. He makes sure that won’t happen in the second by scoring a quick four points, giving him 10 for the game.
– The guys were probably thinking so much about “We gotta win this one to make the NCAA tournament” that “We gotta win to play North Carolina tomorrow” never entered their heads. The coaches seemingly fixed that at the half. Overall, the pace has picked up tremendously in the second frame.
– Getting physical out there. Nah, don’t take my word for it. Just look at Jeff Allen. Dude has to change his jersey from 0 to 13 because of blood.
– McClinton isn’t really having the typical game you’d expect from him. Still, he’s showing flashes of the AI-like quickness and fearlessness. He’s got a flashy nine points. His total for the game? That same flashy nine.
– Hurricane Adrian Thomas kills any movement the U had with two lazy passes that end up in VT’s hands. The game notes say he ends up with four turnovers. Dude only played 17 minutes. Yikes!
– Hudson muscles in for a board and a put back. The crowd erupts. He and Vassallo, now with 14, aren’t having hey-look-at-me kinds of games, but they are doing the little things to keep the scoreboard in their team’s favor.
– Dang, it’s 55-37, Hokies. This one is getting out of hand. Miami fans sitting behind their team’s bench is in utter shock. They didn’t make the 13-hour drive to the A for this, I know. They’re not talking. They’re not clapping. They’re not nothing.
– Malcolm Delaney deserves some credit next to Hudson and Vassallo. At first you’re thrown by the kid’s 1-for-10 shooting, but when you look at his point total and see 17, you’re like how’d that happen. 14-for-15 from the free throw line happened, that’s what.
– The Hokies are up 20 with two minutes left. The starters take a seat to a nice cascade of claps. Virginia Tech’s feint hopes of making the dance grow a little brighter with this more-than-convincing win over Miami, 65-47.
– During the post-game, VT coach Seth Greenberg: “Just a really solid team win overall. The big thing for us was the finish… I told the guys, we finish games, maybe we haven’t made a shot on the last possession and maybe we haven’t stopped someone. But we finish games. I told them- don’t be afraid.”
– A.D. Vassallo: “We’re playing right now for a spot in the NCAA Tournament but more than that we’re playing for the ACC Championship. We’re playing the ACC Tournament and we’re in the mindset that we’re going to win games. We’ve just got to go and play like we did today. We’ve just got to go out there and play as hard as we can.”
– Jack McClinton: “We got outplayed today. They did great on defense and executing on offense and that was the difference in the game. I didn’t play my game at all. I wasn’t going to get my shot as much. I played a bad game. I got to put it behind and keep going.”
Game 2: No. 12 Georgia Tech vs. No. 5 Clemson
By most accounts, Georgia Tech’s season has been a failure. 11-18 record overall. 2-14 in the ACC. Losers of 12 of 13 during one particularly-brutal stretch. Like a Jermaine Dupri/Whoopi Goldberg love child, it just hasn’t been pretty. But a closer look will tell you that Paul Hewitt’s squad hasn’t really been all that bad, seeing as how they lost a remarkable 10 games by five points or less. During one close win, an 86-84 upset of then No. 4 Wake Forest on January 31, SLAM was in the building, taking game notes. Just keep that tidbit in mind as the second game of the ACC tournament, this one between the Yellow Jackets and No. 18 Clemson, tips off.
– The Jackets come out fired up. They’ve got some pep in their jump step. They’ve moving the ball well. Forward Zach Peacock drops a quick mid-ranger. Too bad there appears to be more Clemson fans in the building than Tech followers. Really? The school’s, like, five minutes away- walking!
– All in all, the pace is a lot faster early on than the first game. Just look at Tech guard Iman Shumpert. He’s covered in sweat and they’ve only played four minutes. Pace yourself, young fella.
– Lewis Clinch, Tech’s leader in scoring, shows why, going in and knocking them out from deep. He’s got an early seven.
– But even with all the early scoring, the Yellow Jackets are having some serious issues with Clemson’s defense, especially their full-court presses. Just about every possession is facing either a timeout or some sort of indecision from the guy putting the ball inbounds.
– Clemson freshman Bryan Narcisse looks just like Horace Grant might have 20 years back. Horace could never jump like this kid though.
– There goes another Tech timeout because they couldn’t get the ball in. Hewitt’s gotta do something about that.
– Tiger Raymond Sykes is lanky and has ridiculously-long dreads, but the kid’s got great footwork and I love his energy. For all those reasons, you can’t miss him on the floor.
– “What are you doing, Zach,” asks a fan about five rows behind me after the muscular forward misses a wide-open J. “Take it to the hole, Zach!” Good advice.
– Remember Clinch? He’s got 13 with about four minutes to go in the 1st.
– Know Trevor Booker? He’s one of Clemson’s interior rocks, and he’s got nine because of his intensity.
– Man, don’t you just love the three or four guys at the end of every college bench that stand for everything and give dap to every guy coming to the seat for a rest. Love’em.
– I also love how Tech’s throwing seeding out the window for this one. Who cares that they’re the 12th seed facing a 5. The Jackets came to play. 39-39 at the half.
– Like the case was in the 1st, the Yellow Jackets come out the locker rooms with the pedal to the floor. They quickly go up 44-39 after a thunderous Peacock slam.
– There’s some back and forth for a minute, until Clinch hits a sweet 20-footer. The young man’s got 21. Feels like he’s on his way to a special day.
– The jumbotron locks in on a fan who’s going in on some popcorn. Who’s the fan? None other than new Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens. Can’t think of any collegiate connection for T.O., but I’m almost certain he still has a house in the Atlanta area. Plus, the dude really digs basketball.
– Tech’s Gani Lawal, a third-team All-ACCer, has been consistent today, but before a nice alley-oop from, who else, Lewis Clinch, he hadn’t done anything really remarkable.
– Though the Clemson Tigers can’t seem to get anything going, Booker’s still at it. The impressive forward’s got 13.
– Though the Clemson Tigers can’t seem to get anything going, their full-court D is amazing… or Tech just didn’t bother practicing it much this week.
– Lawal gets the ball pretty deep in the paint, but he dishes it off to Alade Aminu, who then fumbles it out of bounds. There’s a timeout on the floor. Coach Hewitt immediately approaches Lawal with a just-shoot-the-damn-thing motion. I like Lawal, really I do. But he goes in and out of focus in games sometimes. After a few more possessions, he’s regained his composure and he’s pumped up. He dunks and starts beating his chest. Tech, 62-55.
– Umm, did we mention that Tech was 1-0 against ranked opponents when SLAM was in the building?
– Lawal is REALLY focused now. He’s getting every loose ball. He’s got 18 points too. With him and Clinch and Peacock, why is it again they only won two ACC games this year?
– Clinch is the real deal today. He’s got 27 and he’s heading to the line. A couple of possessions later, he takes an attempt and lands awkwardly on a Tiger’s foot. He goes down. Damn, that sucks. He limps off. Tech’s forced to call a timeout.
– Timeout over. So is Tech’s long gasp. Clinch is back in the game.
– Clemson seems to have one more good run in them, and they’re looking to guards K.C. Rivers and the other T.O. in the building, long-range marksman Terrence Oglesby, to lead the charge. Both of them hit big threes.
– Lawal squashes any thoughts of a Tiger comeback with yet another dunk. Stat department, can you please check and see if this guy’s leading the conference in slams. He has to be… 79-75 Tech with under a minute remaining.
– T.O. hits another three. He’s got his biggest 11 points of the season.
– Another Tech turnover because of Clemson’s pressure. The Tigers get the ball down to Booker. Smart. He’s fouled. Booker misses the first attempt. The second too.
– Tech fan: “We got this here! We got this!”
– Looks like it… wait, Tiger Andre Young hits a clutch three. 84-81 Tech.
– But when Georgia Tech’s band starts playing the fitting Young Jeezy’s “Put On” with seven seconds left, the Atlanta crowd knows this one’s over.
– Clinch goes to the line one last time…. 31 points… and then a career-high 32. What a game, sir.
– Upset City: 86-81 Tech. And a 2-0 record with SLAM in the building.
– Coach Hewitt’s thoughts on Clinch’s career afternoon: “He’s been a big-time player for us for a long time. He’s had some issues, coming back from injuries or missing some games for different reasons. We were talking about it this morning with the coaching staff; if he’s on the court consistently, this is what you’ll see from him. This is probably the first time in his career where it’s not an injury or something that’s kept him from the court. And like I said, I’m serious. I’ve been saying to my staff for the past week, he’s in midseason form right now. Everybody else is at the end of the year. He’s just getting cranked up right now. I expect him to go out tomorrow and play exactly the way he’s played over the last six or seven games.”
by Marcel Mutoni
It’s no secret that things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Chris Mullin and the Warriors. The product on the floor is awful, and things are even worse in the front office. In other words, changes are a-coming.
And those changes include Mullin no longer working for the Warriors after this season, according to the local media.
From the Mercury News:
A few weeks ago, I was thinking there was something like a 5% chance of Mullin returning to the Warriors for 2009-2010 just ’cause nobody was truly absolutely ruling out, so you give them wiggle room. Not any more, though. Now… from the conversations I’ve had with league sources who know the situation, it’s clear that there is basically 0% chance of Mullin returning to the Warriors once his contract runs out in June.
In the past, I’ve heard assumptions that Rowell wanted Mullin out, but around the league, executives heard nothing definitive. No hard word from the Warriors that Mullin for sure was done. But now…Rowell and Co. aren’t trying to hide the decision. Mullin is out. Warriors management is not even considering bringing him back. Mullin gives no indication that there’s a clear path to bring him back, if that was a possibility.
Rowell and Chris Cohan are eyeing assistant GM Larry Riley or perhaps someone else, obviously with Don Nelson very much involved.
As the report points, with the power structure in Oakland being what it is, Mullin (who’s had very little say in the way the team has conducted its business of late) probably wouldn’t even want to return anyway.
Time to ride off into the sunset, Mully. You’ll always have the 2007 Playoffs.