Blog Entry

Friday Wrap-up

Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 12:16 am
NEW YORK -- Kemba Walker dominated at Madison Square Garden again.

Tom Izzo suddenly has a dangerous basketball team again.

And Jimmer went Jimmer in a bigtime way.

Here's Friday's Wrap-up to recap a busy day of college basketball.

Best game: Big East semifinals. Connecticut vs. Syracuse. Did you really think it would end in regulation? "I didn't want it to go six overtimes again," said UConn's Kemba Walker, whose brilliance ensured it would not. The Huskies instead closed this one out in the first OT and advanced to Saturday's title game with a 76-71 victory over the Orange two years after the two schools played that six-overtime classic in this same building. Walker finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and six steals, then spent some time chatting outside the media room with President Bill Clinton. Meantime, UConn coach Jim Calhoun used part of his postgame press conference to praise his star and highlight, for the 87th time this week, that one Big East coach didn't vote Walker First Team All-Conference. "He's the Most Valuable Player on any team in the country," Calhoun said. "I'm going to keep saying it."
Other best game: North Carolina was down double-digits to Miami at the half, at which point I openly wondered whether Larry Drew was back to playing point guard for the Tar Heels. Turns out, he was not. And that was never more obvious than when Kendall Marshall, Drew's more-talented mid-season replacement, drove into the lane in the final seconds of a tie game and found Tyler Zeller all alone under the basket for an easy layup at the buzzer that gave North Carolina a 61-59 win in the ACC quarterfinals. It was a play that capped an incredible run that allowed the Tar Heels to overcome a 19-point deficit in the final 10 minutes. It also reminded me of what Zeller told me about Marshall last week. "He does a lot of things that make our jobs easy," Zeller said. "He can pass you the ball and you just have to lay it up." As Miami now knows, that's exactly right.

Yet another best game: Virginia Tech probably secured an NCAA tournament bid with a 52-51 win over Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals, but the Hokies couldn't celebrate until Derwin Kitchen's shot at the buzzer that initially seemed to give FSU the win was waved off. The officials huddled around a monitor and correctly concluded that the ball was still in Kitchen's hands when time expired, but just barely. It was a wild scene in Greensboro. Seth Greenberg cried and everything.

Team whose dream remained alive: Whether Alabama can get an at-large bid remains debatable because the Crimson Tide have seven losses outside of the top 50, but their 65-59 overtime win against Georgia in the SEC quarters definitely enhanced their case. The Crimson Tide now have four top-50 wins to help offset those troubling losses, and they're at no risk of taking another "bad" loss before Selection Sunday (provided they meet Kentucky in the semifinals). As for Georgia, man, who knows? The Bulldogs have a better body of work than Alabama despite two losses to Alabama. But a bubble team blowing a double-digit second-half lead to a fellow bubble team is never a good final impression to leave with the Selection Committee.

Team whose dream was crushed: Jerry Palm projected Tulsa as the winner of C-USA's automatic bid after UAB lost Thursday, which means Tulsa entered Friday in the Field of 68 here at I'll be honest, it just looked weird. But that projection will change as soon as my colleague updates his projections because UTEP beat Tulsa 66-54 in the C-USA quarterfinals and eliminated the Golden Hurricane from NCAA tournament contention. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Walker's 33 at MSG was the biggest story of the night ... right up until Jimmer Fredette dropped 33 on New Mexico in the first half and finished with a career-high 52 in BYU's 87-76 win in the Mountain West semifinals. The National Player of the Year was -- ready for this? -- 22-of-37 from the field, and only one of his points came on a free throw. If the members of the Selection Committee want to do the nation a favor, they'll put BYU and UConn in the same region and give us a possible Jimmer vs. Kemba matchup two weekends from now.

Performance I hope you missed: Wisconsin and Penn State did nothing to help the Big Ten's reputation as a slow and boring basketball league. In fact, they might've cemented the reputation by playing a game in which the winning team scored 36 points and the losing team scored 33. Penn State was the winning team, if you care.

 Five things worth noting

1. Nolan Smith suffered a toe injury in the second half of Duke's 87-71 win over Maryland in the ACC quarterfinals and did not return. Mike Krzyzewski said afterward that he wasn't sure if Smith would be back before the end of the ACC tournament but stressed the most important thing is making sure the ACC Player of the Year is available for the NCAA tournament, which will begin for Duke, presumably, next Friday in Charlotte.

2. Memphis finally looked like a team with a roster built to overwhelm C-USA opponents during a 76-56 win over East Carolina in part because Joe Jackson finally looked like somebody worthy of the nickname "King of Memphis." The McDonald's All-American has gone from a local high school legend to a freshman starter for the Tigers to a part-time reserve in less than a year, and it's been tough on him. But Jackson was tremendous against ECU while scoring a career-high 24 points. He made 8-of-12 field goal attempts, 3-of-3 3-point attempts and 5-of-5 free throw attempts, and now the Tigers are just a win over UTEP away from earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Southern California played its Pac-10 semifinal against Arizona without head coach Kevin O'Neill, who was suspended by his athletic director after a Thursday night incident with an Arizona booster. Assistant Bob Cantu coached the Trojans in O'Neill's absence. They lost 67-62 and are almost certainly headed to the NIT.

4. Ohio State entered this week in position to get a No. 1 seed regardless, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes wanted or needed to lose their Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern (if only because there's nothing cool about losing a Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern). Thanks to Jared Sullinger they avoided the upset. The National Freshman of the Year finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds in OSU's 67-61 overtime win. Worth noting is that Sullinger shot 18 free throws, i.e., just as many as Northwestern's entire team.

5. If you're surprised Tom Izzo has Michigan State operating at a high level then you haven't been paying attention for the past decade. Somehow, someway, this is what Izzo does. Regardless of whether the Spartans are great, good, average or terrible from November to March, by St. Patrick's Day each year Izzo gets them straight. So of course Michigan State will play in the Big Ten semifinals thanks to a 74-56 win over Purdue that took the Spartans off the bubble. They're now guaranteed to make the NCAA tournament. They'll probably make the Sweet 16, just because.

Final thought: Providence fired Keno Davis Friday and folks immediately started trying to explain why this didn't work. Among the common theories was because the Big East school hired him "with just one year of head coaching experience," which is both wrong and silly. Understand this: Davis didn't fail at Providence because he lacked significant prior experience. He failed at Providence because the school decided to hire the country's hottest young coach in April 2008 with little regard to how he fit with the Friars program. Davis was a bad fit -- and I hope Providence realizes that before it lures its next coach. Hire somebody with experience if you want; I'm not saying that's the wrong route. All I'm saying is that projected greatness and fit are way more important than past experience, and you can look elsewhere in the Big East to see it. Pittsburgh hired Jamie Dixon with zero years of head coaching experience while Marquette hired Buzz Williams with one. Things seems to be going well for those two programs, don't they?

Bottom line, what somebody has done at another school is important, sure.

But it's not nearly as important as what you think somebody can do at your school going forward.

Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:20 pm

Friday Wrap-up

I agree with Gary that Penn State and Wisconsin set college basketball back a century or so as the modern day record for lack of scoring in a Big Ten Tournement game was just completed.     Michigan State now has a reasonable change to really mess with peoples minds.  If they win tommorrow they get a chance to do what all the preseason polls predicted.  After finally thrashing Purdue, beating Wisconsin early in the year and now possibly meeting and beating a disinterested Ohio State team on Sunday, could really mess with the minds of the Dances' seeders. 

Michigan Stae could end up as a 3 or 4 seed after being on the bubble two days ago.

This is such a great time of the year for College Sports, except for Tressell...

Go Sparty!

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:27 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

You don't think Pitt could've find somebody who had "proven" more than Jamie Dixon?

John Calipari wanted the job.

Pitt didn't look at what Jamie had done. It looked at what Jamie could do for them.

Marquette did the same thing.

That's the point.
Hahaha Calipari sucks as a coach. Hell of a recruiter but his coaching sucks and Dixon would outcoach him every day of the week. Calipari, with that team Dixon has now, would finish with 20 losses this season.

OSU played poorly, call it like it is. Even good teams play poorly sometimes. Don't sugar coat anything.

God you suck.

Since: Feb 19, 2011
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:45 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

Pitt didn't look at what Jamie had done. It looked at what Jamie could do for them.
LOL. Parrish trying to wax philosophical here. WINNING!

Pitt promoted Dixon because they liked Howland's style and Dixon was a Howland disciple. Yes, he already fit into the Pitt system.

It had nothing to do with "projected success," arguably the most inane phrase you've used in all your columns this year.

Your cherry picking of the failures and successes of teams, players and coaches really knows no bounds.

Since: Feb 21, 2011
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:37 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

What is up with you... If they lose in conference play, they should be penalize
like any other team in a lesser conference would be!  Instead you praise them
for a job well done! They got lucky in winning the game!

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:26 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up


Since: Mar 27, 2010
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:21 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

The OSU close call was because Matta refuses to press a significantly inferior team and stays in a loose man-to-man letting NW dictate tempo. The other reason for the close game is that OSU never shoots well in Invesco because there is no background behind the hoops. NW is a good shooting team and only shot 37%. The Big Ten tournament is notorious for low scoring at Invesco which is to the lesser team's advantage. It is a bad venue with a coach that refuses to adjust.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:13 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

HEY RELAX & B H ...  Sounds like a serious "man-crush" going on   !!!   LOL

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:11 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

Did Calipari really want the Pitt job?  If that is the case I have a lot of respect for them not taking him.

Since: Feb 16, 2009
Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:56 pm

Early Friday Wrap-up

There is a lot to be said about PITT hiring Jamie Dixon.  First of all, he was in Hawaii falling in love when Ben Holland told the university that if you want me at PITT, I have to have Jamie Dixon.  Secondly, when Holland left for UCLA, Peterson the AD didn't want to hire Dixon as the head coach.  But the player's Krauser, Troutman and other's went to the President and expressed through detailed explanation why Jamie Dixon would make a great coach.  They talked about how he could keep the current chemistry of the team together and moving forward.  The chancellor bought off on it and Dixon became the head coach.  If you know Jamie Dixon, he's one of the most positive people you'll ever meet.  When he pulls you off the court for missing a defensive assignment or turning the ball over..... He understands that the root problem is you need a rest, refreshing or time to focus.  He understands that the mistake is a result of lack of mental focus, exhaustion from playing locked down man to man defense or from running offensive sets where you are constantly moving, screening, catching and passing the ball.  His first comments are Great Job!  He means for the 5 minutes and 39 seconds that you were focused and playing hard.  He focuses on the positive!  Other coaches will pull you out of the game and eye you down, yell at you, criticize, etc., some will do it to you while your still on the court.  Dixon is beyond that!  And you could see that as an assistant, so to those of you who believe you have to have a track record of winning all ready, Good Luck with that one.  I'm not a negative person, so I won't mention any names of the coaches with a track record of winning who didn't do well or as well as expected, nor the coaches who had a track record of winning, went to a school and won games. Lots of them, but because they didn't win it all, they we're forced to move on.  You need to match the coach with your personnel and the vision of your university, along with the style of play in your conference.  You better know how to teach and coach defense and rebounding to win in the Big East.  If anyone was paying attention to how connecticut beat PITT yesterday, it was because of rebounding, more importantly offensive rebounding.  Gary McGhee, Nasir Robinson and Dante Taylor had foul issues and Connecticut pulled down an unusual amount of offensive rebounds that they turned in to 20 second chance points at one point in the game.  That's highly unusual against the number two rebounding team in the nation.  That's how they won that game and in the Big East that's how PITT's been winning all of their games.  DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING and that's what Jamie Dixon teaches and coaches.

Since: Dec 21, 2007
Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:07 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or