Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 3 of the Madness: Party Foul

There were eight games on the schedule yesterday and the majority of them did not disappoint. We'll start with the games that weren't as close, and work our way to one of the most bizarre finishes in college basketball tournament history.

Teach Me How To Jimmer: We are betting that there are going to be a lot of babies named Jimmer popping up in about 9 months. The Cougs are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1981 after having no problems with Gonzaga, winning 89-67. Jimmer dropped 34, which means he is averaging a healthy 33 ppg so far this tournament. Now the Cougs will face Florida (who took out UCLA 73-65), in New Orleans. Make sure you brush up on that Honor Code boys.

Kentucky Split: The young Wildcats were able to avenge the school's loss to West Virginia in last year's tournament, beating the Mountaineers 71-63. The problem that hurt the 'Eers all year long was true once again on Saturday - no go-to, crunch time scorer. We miss you Da'Sean Butler. The other Kentucky squad still playing wasn't as lucky, as Morehead St.'s season came to an end at the hands of Richmond. The Spiders, the #12 seed in the Southwest, now await the winner of Kansas-Illinois.

Aztecs, Huskies and Badgers, Oh my: The Fighting Dunphies gave #2 San Diego State all they could handle yesterday, as the Aztecs eeked out a 7 point win in double overtime over Temple. SDSU now faces Kemba and the Huskies in the Sweet 16. UConn disposed of fellow Big East member, Cincinnati. SDSU has a slight advantage, as the game will be played in Anaheim. Meanwhile, Bo Ryan isn't quite ready to vacation in South Jersey just yet. His Wisconsin Badgers ended Jacob Pullen's college career, despite the Beard putting up 38 points. Coach Frank Martin's scowl took over the final few seconds of the game, as he didn't look too pleased with a few of his player's non-execution of a final play - that seemed to be NOT drawn up for Pullen.

Doin' the But: On Thursday, Butler won their game with a put back basket by Matt Howard as time expired. On Saturday, as the Bulldogs took on #1 Pitt, it was the final seconds that once again dictated who won the game. In what was one of the most bizarre endings ever, Butler took the lead with 2 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Gilbert Brown was fouled by Shelvin Mack (it was the right call). Brown at the free throw line, shooting 2, down 1, with .9 seconds left. He makes the first. Tie game. The second, clanks off the iron and Howard pulls down the board. For some reason, Pitt's Nasir Robinson fouls (it was the right call) Howard with .2 seconds left. Howard makes the first, misses the second on purpose, Butler is back in the Sweet 16 and Pitt is back to the Steel City early, once again.

Daily Onions, who normally is in the camp of "let them play" when it comes to officiating, completely agrees with both of the calls made at the end of the game. Officials you are off the hook. The way Pitt handled the late game situation is a teachable moment for basketball players and coaches of all ages. With .9 seconds left, and a tie game, why even risk the possibility for a foul on the rebound. I don't have a problem with Jamie Dixon keeping players on the lane, as this gives Brown a more "normal" look at the foul line (if normal exists at this situation in the game). But you need to be 100% clear with your players to not commit a foul on the potential miss (as Gilbert Brown said after the game - all I needed to do was make the 2nd shot and we wouldn't be having this conversation). Robinson also admitted that is was an awful mistake and that he's been playing basketball for way too long to know better than that. Robinson's foul didn't even look accidental, as he clearly grabbed and hung on to Howard's arm. A bizzare mental lapse by Robinson. It's unfortunate that the game had to end under these circumstances. Mack is lucky he is off the hook for his last second mistake. Unfortunately for Brown and Robinson, this one is going to sting for a while.

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