Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

One of the first things that I noticed about the Sweet Sixteen regional games was the stadiums and the massive swaths of empty seats. I’m guessing that they have these games in huge football stadiums because they don’t want to run out of tickets, but the end result is an embarrassing scene whereby it seems as though no one cares about the games. It’s weird. Just hold the games in basketball arenas and if they’re sold out, so what. There is no need (and apparently, no demand) have 75,000 people at a basketball game because about 7/8ths of the people won’t have a very good sightline to the action anyway.

To the games themselves …

I haven’t seen much of UConn this year and I almost feel bad for Hasheem Thabeet. Almost. The guy is going to be a lottery pick and never have to sit at a desk and do real work, ever, so I can’t feel too bad for him. What I mean by this is that during the game, his teammates don’t look to him much and I can tell that he gets frustrated. But, on the other hand, he’s not very skilled offensively and still does really stupid stuff like bring the ball low or dribble it in the post when there is no need to do so. But all young big guys do this, so it’s not just him. I think commentators pick apart his game because he is so huge and has some ability, he’ll be fine. But he is very limited athletically because he has a bit of a Calvin Booth thing going on where it looks like he’s running with George Clooney in “O Brother, Where Art Thou” in shackles. Also, if you just saw Thabeet from the waist up, you’d think he’d be a relatively slender, spy dude, but then from the waist down he looks very heavy, kind of like a weeble-wobble. That’ll probably help anchor him in the post, but makes it very hard to run (and watch him run…) I was going to bash him, but he’s actually good and can get a ton better.

Um, Dick Enberg, maybe it’s time to step aside and let another play-by-play guy get a shot. Time to hang up the mic. I’ll give him this though, he’s resilient. He keeps coming back even when networks force him to do those sappy, crappy puff pieces. I’d take those as a hint to get out of the game, but he still brings it. It’s not like he’s lost his fastball, he’s throwing with the other arm now.

Here are two more applicants for the Anti-Baby Face Team:
  1. Xavier's B.J. Raymond
  2. Pitt's Sam Young (who rivals previously mentioned Dallas Lauderdale as the overall No. 1 seed)

That Pitt – Xavier game was fantastic, even if it was more of battle of offensive attrition than actually stellar defense. I was still riveted. Levance Fields is Khalid El-Amin reincarnated. Both of those dudes are so portly, but successful (in college, anyway). Also, shouldn’t the “v” in Levance be capitalized? I’d switch that up if I was him. I humbly submit that “LeVance” looks cooler than “Levance.” One great scene that occurred at the 1:20 mark remaining in the game was a loose ball that traveled from Pitt’s side of the court to Xavier’s side. Derrick Brown (no. 5) hustled and ran the ball down, but stepped out. The ref called it and Brown started stomping his feet and bitching to the ref and Dante Jackson (no. 25) sprinted over to Brown and screamed at the top of his lungs “SHUT THE F**K UP!” right in Brown’s face and the camera caught it. Great moment. I’m a little saddened that Raftery didn’t say anything about that, perhaps he didn’t see it. Something like, “Jackson’s giving some life lessons to Brown right now.”

I love, absolutely love, what Villanova did to Duke. Nova looked so damn superior in every single aspect of the game. They were bigger, stronger, faster, better shooters, played tough defense. It was awesome. Nova looks like a very strong title contender right now. The cool thing about the teams remaining in the tournament is that four of the eight teams remaining play crazy fast, pressure basketball. Here are the regular season averages of the eight teams:

1. UNC – 90.5
2. Missouri –81.6
3. Oklahoma – 79.2
4. UConn – 78.4
5. Pitt – 77.5
6. Nova – 77.0
7. Louisville – 74.9
8. Michigan State – 72.0

Two of these teams, Louisville (103) and Missouri (102), hung a Franklin on Arizona and Memphis. I guess I’m saying that I’m looking forward to a possible Louisville – Missouri game. Someone, please make this happen.

Speaking of the Arizona – Louisville game, just sitting in my TV room watching this game I felt intimidated by Louisville’s athleticism and cockiness. I could just feel them making fun of me. I felt the same way about Memphis’s team last year. Louisville just seems to come after teams wave after wave. It’s a trademark of Pitino teams, but this squad seems like it’s really put together perfectly to pull it off. Arizona has great athletes and everyone knew that their depth could be an issue, but it was pretty shocking to see them get so roundly dismantled. Michigan State has steady players who are tough, so this game is going to be very interesting.

That Gonzaga – UNC game was terrible. Gonzaga played no semblance of a defense and UNC shot the hell out of the ball. Ty Lawson looked absolutely perfect out there. He could be an outstanding RB if he wanted to be one by the way. He’s strong and has fantastic balance and speed. I didn’t know that his jumper was so milky either, of course, when no one guards you it makes it a lot easier, but still. Hansbrough played a solid game and hit open jumpers. He’s got a shot in the NBA, much more so than I gave him credit for. He looks to be just as relentless as Jon Brockman, although he’s not as thick as him. They both have the same short arm, not explosive issues, but Hansbrough is an exponentially better shooter than Brockman which makes him less of a liability offensively. I could see him being a role player on a good team, like third or fourth big man, which is not too shabby. Bouldin and Heytveldt, two guys who absolutely needed to have good if not great games for Gonzaga to win, were non-factors in the game, which is very disappointing. It didn’t seem like UNC’s defense caused them to be ineffective, they just had off nights, both of them. Too bad.

It sounds like Austin Daye may put his name in the draft and not hire an agent. Smart move, but I'd be surprised if he left. The feedback that he's going to get isn't going to be very positive, but he can improve upon things (and his draft position) if he stays. He simply needs to get bigger and stronger (and stop bitching so much). Bouldin would be an absolute fool if he left, which I doubt he'll do.

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