Saturday, January 30, 2010

Instant Reaction

Yes, I write more when my teams win. And what an incredible sleight of games today.

First, Duke fans cannot enjoy the Verizon Center. They’ve lost their last two trips at Georgetown, they lost to West Virginia there in the 2008 NCAA tournament, and they nearly lost to Belmont there in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament.
-If you think Georgetown’s shooting was off the charts, it was. But in the last two home games against Seton Hall and Rutgers, it was equally good. Georgetown’s eFG% the last three home games is 76.1%, 71.3%, and today 78.3%.
-Georgetown mainly got it done by forcing turnovers. I could almost hear Jay Bilas saying, “You have to be strong with the ball.” (He said it later on ESPN game night.)
-Besides the lay-ups off turnovers, late in the second half Georgetown ran the same cut to the basket for a lay-up three plays in a row and Duke had no answer.
-Jerrelle Benimon is occasionally out of position. I remember him getting shoved in the back in a recent game when he wasn’t sliding over to cover the right man. But he gave the Hoyas big minutes today with Julian Vaughn in early foul trouble. And he was playing so confidently, JT3 seemed hesitant to put Vaughn back in.
-I can’t describe how satisfying it is to see your team beat Duke. For all the complaints about Georgetown playing in an NBA arena, they all get thrown out when you get a big time atmosphere like today. No matter what you want to say about politics, it is always fun to have someone in the house. Be it Judge Samuel Alito at the Seton Hall game or the President and Vice President at this game. Georgetown seemed like the place to be today in college basketball.

How many Kansas and Kansas St. players were banged up at the end of that game? From heads hitting the floor to Sherron Collins back giving out, ouch.
-I completely agree that it was dumb of Kansas St. not to foul at the end of the game. You can’t depend on a 5 second difference between shot clock and game clock unless you play in the NBA and a time-out will give you the ball in the front court.
-Random thing I noticed, Kansas committed a 10 second backcourt violation with 1:21 to go in overtime, but it wasn’t called. Kansas was called for an offensive foul later in the possession, so it probably didn’t matter. But I wonder if you broke down every game on DVR, how often the refs miss that call.
-There’s no word to describe all the lane violations. Kansas St. kept trying to jump early and they got caught.

So Kansas St.’s lifetime streak of non-excellence against Kansas continues. And that’s why you have to salute what Baylor did against Texas. Baylor earned its first regular season win against Texas since 1998.
-I can’t do Baylor’s upset win justice. Baylor center Epke Udoh couldn’t make a basket then makes three in OT. Texas guard J’Covan Brown gets a critical steal that seemed to put the game away, but misses a free throw. Texas forwad Damian James gets a critical steal when his team seems out of it, but fouls out of the game. Baylor Freshman AJ Walton practically throws the ball away by getting trapped in bad spots, but misses one FG and one FT in a 14 point performance. This was just an incredible game.

I already have two regrets about my Pulse column from this morning.
-First, Indiana might officially move to the John Chaney division if they keep this up. But as an Illinois fan, I’ll take a buzzer-beating win under any circumstances. Demetri McCamey was on fire with his assists in the first half, and he hit the game-winning floater tonight. Very satisfying.

-Second, Rutgers must have used my morning column as motivation as they went out and beat Notre Dame tonight. Two non-keys and one real key:
-The announcers said it was Tory Jackson’s birthday. He fouled out in a loss to Rutgers. That sucks.
-The referees spent about 10 minutes getting the shot clock right on two possessions late in the game. I still hate instant replay.
-Hamady Ndiaye could play for any team in the country. The shot-blocking monster in the paint was simply Luke Harangody’s kryptonite tonight. He constantly harassed Harangody out of his comfort zone. But in the final minutes, with Rutgers nursing a two point lead, Harandgody once again took the ball to the basket. And that’s when Ndiaye had arguably his most athletic and exciting rejection of the season. But that block didn’t quite seal the deal. Rutgers missed a free throw that would have made it a two possession game. But on the free throw miss, Ndiaye out-leaped Harangody for the ball and gave Rutgers a chance for more free throws. Ndiaye was the difference tonight. And besides his great play, he was the emotional leader in the upset. He had a smile that you could build a team around.