Sunday, November 18, 2007

Feast Week Continues

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Final

Picture this. You’re in Puerto Rico. Your team is playing for the 3rd time in 4 days. If you’re Tim Welsh, you’re sweating it out in a suit like just about every other Division 1 coach. But if you’re Frank Haith you are wearing a white short-sleeve dress shirt with a University of Miami insignia. The look was right out of a retirement community. I mean who wears a short-sleeve dress shirt anyhow? Oh, that’s right. People that live in Miami.

You know what is often the key to winning multiple days in a row? Foul trouble. How often do you see a player in a Conference Tournament sit down one day with foul trouble and show up the next day as the only fresh player on the court? In this case it was Jack McClinton who picked up his 4th foul early in the second half and had to sit until the three minute mark. A that point in the game, almost every other shooter was coming up short on their three point shot, but when the fresh McClinton came into the tie game, he immediately hit the go ahead three pointer. This sparked a mini-run for Miami and despite the fact that McClinton then fouled out, his team had build enough of a lead to hold on for victory. Obviously it can backfire if your reserves don’t play well, but in these day-to-day tournaments, resting three point shooters can often pay dividends.

The Magic Continues

You have to give a lot of credit to Gregg Marshall. He’s had to earn his keep at every coaching destination in his career. He was never an assistant at a major program and never had the connections to quickly move up in the world. Despite being the Big South Coach of the Year 5 times, despite taking Winthrop to the NCAA tournament in 7 out of 9 years, he didn’t get a sniff at a big time coaching job. Instead, he’ll have to earn his way again, taking over a Wichita St. team in the almost major Missouri Valley Conference. The good news for Gregg is that if he wins at Wichita St., he should get a chance at a major coaching job. The bad news is that he doesn’t get to enjoy the continued ride at Winthrop.

Not only did his 11th seeded Winthrop squad defeat Notre Dame in last year’s NCAA tournament, for one of the best wins in school history, that same Winthrop team is now playing in the championship game of the Paradise Jam tournament. (At the time of this writing, Baylor vs Notre Dame is still in progress.) Winthrop defeated Georgia Tech in the PJ semis thanks to four starters in double figures. (Recap here.)

Sadly for Greg Marshall, his current team is the one that is struggling. Wichita St. has lost to Baylor and Monmouth and now must beat a dangerous Illinois-Chicago team to avoid finishing 0-3 in the Virgin Islands.

Other Tournament Games

Puerto Rico: Temple finally picked up a victory, but needed overtime to beat Marist in the 7th place game. Yikes. Houston beat Charleston for 5th place, and Arkansas outlasted VCU in the 3rd place game. The formerly cold and hot Eric Maynor was simply average in the final, scoring 12 points in 38 minutes.

Top of the World: Allow me to recap the field. Alaska, Tennessee St., Colorado St., Akron, South Carolina St., Portland St., IUPUI, and Oregon St. Oregon St. would be the only BCS team here. And that same Oregon St. team finished in 7th place, beating winless South Carolina Upstate for their only victory.

First off, how embarrassing is that for the Oregon St. team? I believe on my coach rankings page, (which I still need to update), that I said that Jay John was on the hot seat this year. This can’t have helped matters.

Second, who the heck is South Carolina Upstate? I’ve heard of South Carolina. I’ve heard of South Carolina St. But South Carolina Upstate? Here they are. Huh, I guess they play in the Atlantic Sun.

Third, the championship game between Portland St. and Colorado St. was on after my bedtime. I’ll check back tomorrow.

Do these Games Matter?

Come NCAA selection show time, we put a lot of stock into these early season tournaments because they offer some rare non-conference BCS match-ups. But, I’m not sure whether it is good to put a lot of weight on these games or not. On the one hand, the Miami-Providence final was often sloppy due to tired players. But, on the other hand, the best players often rise to the occasion in these games. Look back at Douglas-Roberts and Rose in the Coaches vs Cancer final. They were playing the second day in a row, and they looked like the elite players that they are. I guess I’ll say it’s a coin flip. These games should matter, but not as much as the long grind that is conference play.