Thursday, March 22, 2012

Swimming and Kicking at NCAA Tourney Open Practices

Prior to the Sweet 16 and Final 4 games, the NCAA hosts "open practices" to the public, where you can come in and watch the teams on the court for an hour or so. Don't expect to see what the team's gameplan will be, though. You mostly get lots of shooting drills, lots of fancy dunks in layup lines, maybe see the team run through a few sets, and barely see the coaches or players break a sweat. With that said, its cool for the fans to get a behind the scenes look at some top programs in the country.

The highlight of the open practice is the half-court shootout to end practice. All teams do it differently. It could be a nonchalant group of guys chucking it up from center court. Others will have two teams to see who can make more shots in a certain amount of time. During the season, Butler's basketball team (and you thought you wouldn't see them in a NCAA tourney post), finishes their day of game walk thru on the road with assistant coaches, radio guys, trainers, etc shooting from half court, with the players watching. Practice isn't officially over until someone makes it. Brad Stevens became a bit superstitious when he realized that when a certain staff member made it, the team would play poorly. Prior to the UIC game, that person wasn't allowed to shoot, and Butler won a few hours later.

Back to the Sweet 16 open practices. Two great videos below. The first is Marquette's head coach, Buzz Williams (who we have in the Final Four), sinking a half court shot and then doing his best Michael Phelps impersonation.

The next video doesn't come on a half court shot, but still pretty impressive. Syracuse walk-on Brandon Reese, who is listed at 5-11 (on two phone books), goes up for an alley-oop (impressive that he can get up that high), can't quite throw it down, but uses his foot to put the ball through the hoop. Check it out.

Less than nine hours away until the Sweet 16 tips off. In no particular order, here are our picks for the next round of games: Syracuse over Wisconsin (sending Bo Ryan to vacation in South Jersey), Michigan State over Louisville, Ohio State over Cincy, Marquette over Florida. Big East sends 2 of 4 teams to the Elite 8. Tomorrow night, we got Baylor over Xavier, UNC over Ohio, Kentucky over Indiana and Kansas over NC State. Yes, you can call us Chalky White.

(videos courtesy of muathletics and fizzfirst on youtube)

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