Friday, March 11, 2005

Thoughts on the first day of the ACC Tournament

1. Not that I'm biased or anything, but why is the ACC Tournament not in Atlanta more? If it's the hottest ticket in American sports, then why not hold it in the largest facility in the region? And it isn't as if Atlanta lacks the hotel rooms or other attractions to keep 50,000 visitors entertained. I'm sure that Greensboro is exciting and all, but wouldn't a visitor rather be here? The Tournament is ostensibly in North Carolina almost every year because of "tradition" (as if that stopped the conference from bringing in a team from Massachusetts,) but in reality, I suspect the clout of the "Carolina Mafia" keeps their baby at home every year. All that said, I'm fine with the tournament being in DC every now and again because it shuts Gary Williams up and DC is a fun city for a weekend. I doubt that the irony is lost on many ACC fans that Gary whined constantly about the tournament being in North Carolina and now that it's a Metro ride away from College Park, his team made a one-game cameo before being knocked out by Clemson.

2. Rick Majerus is ESPN's best college basketball analyst. He actually analyzes players and schemes, which is so rare these days in an age where storylines and hype take precedence over everything else. He also has a good wit. For instance, his line at the end of the first half of the Miami/Virginia game that he hopes that the slow-fingered clock-keeper is in charge of deciding how long Majerus lives was amusing. He's also not afraid to say something mildly critical, like that Guillermo Diaz lacks a mid-range game.

3. It's hard not to feel good for Pete Gillen after last night. Whatever his failings in Charlottesville, he's universally described as a good guy and is one of the few coaches in a dour profession that can make a room full of similarly dour sportswriters smile. His team underperformed this year, going 4-12 in the ACC after a good performance in November and December, highlighted by a shelling of Pac Ten champ Arizona, but they didn't quit on Gillen. Assuming that they can't beat Duke tonight, it was nice that Gillen's players gave him a going-away present. If only some of his previous teams could have played so well in March... Then again, in a way, this was a typical Virginia performance under Gillen. They got killed on the glass, they couldn't make a free throw in the second half, and they turned the ball over with a one-point lead and 20 seconds to go because Gillen had burned all of their timeouts and they couldn't call one when they had trouble inbounding the ball. In a way, they illustrated why Gillen has been strangely disappointing in Charlottesville.

4. Here's a law school hypothetical for you: if by some freak of nature Virginia beats Duke, Wake, and Carolina to win the ACC Tournament and make the Big Dance, they would presumably save Gillen's job. How would Virginia fans feel about that?

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