Monday, March 28, 2005

Limited NCAA thoughts

Wifey and I went up to Charlotte this weekend to visit her brother, so I didn't get to watch as much basketball as I would have hoped. Apparently, that Miss Congeniality II gambit wasn't as effective as I would have hoped. Naturally, now that I got to watch every game, it turned into the best weekend of basketball in recent memory. Nevertheless, I have to ramble about something, right?

1. Since Billy Packer is paid to speak, could someone tell him that there is no "x" at the end of the first syllable of "lackadaisical"? And while we're at it, has he always been such a Duke lover? It was almost incidental to him and Nantz that Michigan State played very well to beat Duke on Friday night. Their comments almost solely concerned how Duke had overachieved this year (BS) and what they had done to lose the game. Strangely, the obvious "throw the ball to Shelden Williams on every possession" possibility was not mentioned. Coach K is great and all, but sometimes, he doesn't seem to understand what the players on his roster do best.

2. Has one team ever been more dependent on a player than Carolina on Raymond Felton? When he fouled out on Friday night, UNC went from comfortably in front to hanging on by the skin of their teeth. They had several close calls with turnovers in the final minutes and they were fortunate to get a bad travel call, although that call probably wasn't decisive because it would have left Nova down one with nine seconds to go, anyway.

3. The Big Ten's success (and to a lesser extent, Kentucky's strong tournament showing) illustrate that picking against a conference's top teams because the middle and lower class of that conference are terrible isn't always a wise strategy. I thought that Kentucky, Michigan State, and Wisconsin would be early casualties because they had inflated records as the result of playing in conferences with such crappy lower halves. Instead, they illustrated the Florida State phenomenon: a team that picks on weaklings in its conference can still do very well when it steps out to play teams from deeper, better leagues.

4. Am I the only person who doesn't like Kevin Pittsnogle's game? I suppose the inbred features are somewhat endearing, but any 6'11 center who shoots like that automatically reminds me of Bill Laimbeer or Jack Sikma, two of my least favorite NBA players in the 80s. Plus, did anyone else notice that he has a Battier-esque tendency to flop, even on minimal contact. Basically, he's a big guy who plays on the perimeter on offense and flops rather than blocking shots on defense. In other words, he's a symptom of the decline of modern big men.

5. OK, I'll be the 11,487th person to ask the question: why do otherwise astute coaches have their teams start their offenses late in the shotclock in end-game situations? It's amazing to me how many teams end up taking terrible shots on critical possessions, shots they almost never take throughout the game itself. Why not just run your offense and then make the other team hoist up a terrible shot to beat you. Plus, teams deprive themselves of the chance to get an offensive rebound when they wait too long, despite the fact that conventional wisdom is that the rebound is more dangerous than the shot at the end of a close game.

6. Does anyone think that Illinois is better than Arizona on a neutral court? I suppose that Illinois was lucky because they were good in a year that Chicago was a regional site, and they earned the right to have that homecourt advantage, but isn't it a little excessive?

7. More kudos to CBS: in addition to having announcers who butcher the English language and openly root for Duke, they managed to screw up their staggering of games on Friday night. The Kentucky/Utah game ran concurrently with the Carolina/Villanova game, which meant that I didn't get to see Andrew Bogut for more than a couple minutes. It sounds like I didn't miss much, but I'd like the chance to make that decision for myself.

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