Friday, November 26, 2010

We Need More Friday Night Games

I have been watching Feast Week, but up until tonight, I have had pretty much the same thoughts as everyone else:

-Kemba Walker is good.
-Kyrie Irving better than I expected.

OK, maybe I had some different thoughts. My dominant thought during the Maui invitational was how important Terrance Jones is going to be to Kentucky this year. When Jones was in foul trouble, Kentucky looked lost. When Jones was on the floor, he looked like a freshman-of-the-year candidate. But I hate to make redundant observations, so my keyboard stayed quiet. Thankfully Friday’s South Florida vs BYU game knocked me out of my Thanksgiving stupor.

South Florida vs BYU, South Padre Island Semifinal

A ball rolled under the bleachers (in the South Padre Island gym) which delayed play for 90 seconds at the end of regulation. Someone in a shirt and tie climbed underneath the bleachers to pull it out. I love these random neutral site tournaments. You just cannot make this stuff up.

Hello to South Florida’s Ron Anderson Jr. You transferred from Kansas St. but I guess you learned a thing or two about rebounding from Frank Martin before you left.

Welcome back BYU’s Jackson Emery. You tend to get over-shadowed by Jimmer Fredette, but you are a fine three-point shooter, and your shot at the end of regulation tied the game at 58.

And say hello to South Florida’s Jawanza Poland. His three pointer gave USF a 61-58 lead seconds later. (Poland was only 4-10 shooting the ball, but he had a key steal and dunk minutes earlier and made all his buckets in crunch time.)

And who is this? Why it’s BYU’s Charles Abouo hitting a three to tie the game and send it into overtime. Dueling threes at the end of regulation is always amazing, but we are not done. No, that would be too easy.

What about BYU’s Jimmer Fredette hitting a three at the end of overtime to give his team a three-point lead. It was also one of the only leads BYU had in this game.

But then there is South Florida’s Jawanza Poland again, making another three to send the game to double overtime.

And now in double overtime, with 90 seconds left, there is Fredette hitting a three again. How do they make these shots? In particular, how does Fredette looks so strong after 38 minutes of gametime? If you watch enough of these neutral site early season tournaments, you never want to take a three in these situations. Players are always too tired; the arena is always too unfamiliar. The smart play is to take the ball to the basket. But Jimmer Fredette is not your average player.

I sense that South Florida does not have another three in them. So of course they make the smart play and take it inside. Augustus Gilchrist makes a beautiful post move to cut the lead to one. Gilchrist was seriously in my doghouse two years ago. He was doing what Indiana’s Verdell Jones is doing this year. (Taking a ton of shots and missing a ton of shots.) But in fairness, Gilchrist was coming back from an injury. Seeing that Gilchrist has reemerged as a confident post player, I feel I owe him some sort of apology. Uh, sorry. I guess you don’t suck.

Then there is USF’s Mike Burwell with an incredible block from behind to preserve the one point deficit. Hmm, I’m noticing a lot more of these South Florida players now that my eyes are not glued to former South Florida Bull Dominque Jones. Maybe this was not a one-man team. And Tony Fitzpatrick makes one of two free throws to tie the game. Do I hear overtime number three?

Jimmer Fredette says no. He drives the lane, draws the double team, and passes underhand to Noah Hartsock who knocks down a wide-open jumper as time expires. BYU wins. Awesome.

South Florida is really going to kick themselves about this one. They blew a lead at the end of regulation. And the Bulls had the ball and a four point lead in overtime. But USF missed too many free throws and committed a pair of costly offensive fouls with the lead in OT. You just cannot give Jimmer Fredette that many chances to win the game.

I am going to be honest. I hate west coast and mountain time zone teams. I like sleep. But after the Utah St. – BYU game last week, the double overtime BYU – Florida NCAA tournament game last year, and basically a ton of fun Fredette games over the years, I need to carve out room on my calendar to watch this team more. Scary.

Other Friday Thoughts

-I cannot believe Steven Pearl is playing so much for Tennessee. He is such an offensive liability, I just assumed that with a new recruiting class he would not get any playing time anymore. But every time I flipped to the Tennessee game he seemed to be getting a steal or deflection. I think people forget how much match-ups matter. Tennessee is a terrible match-up for Villanova because they have long and mobile perimeter defenders. Very few teams will be able to slow down Corey Fisher as much as Tennessee did tonight.

-Speaking of match-ups, the Michigan offense is a terrible match-up for the Syracuse zone defense. All Michigan wants to do is shoot threes and get an occasional pass to someone for a lay-up near the baseline. And Syracuse’s zone is extremely vulnerable in these areas. I think Jim Boeheim is happy that John Beilein does not coach in the Big East anymore.

-Horrific blown dunk by Syracuse’s Rick Jackson at the end of regulation by the way, but Syracuse still hung on for the win.

-It was kind of fun to hear Seth Davis do color commentary on a game. (He was announcing the Legend’s classic on HDNet.)

-Teams that go to double overtime almost always lose the next day. (Emotional letdown / exhaustion.) And I think Georgia just ran out of gas against Temple. This also makes Notre Dame’s win earlier today against California all the more impressive.

-Looking at the ticker, Kansas is winning by 40. Explain to me again why they had to pre-schedule an Arizona-Kansas final in their Las Vegas event instead of making a real four-team bracket?

-UAB just won in OT at Arkansas. I would say congratulations to Mike Davis, but with the way things are going for the SEC West, that win might not be worth much at the end of the year.

-Texas Tech is down by 24 to St. Mary’s at halftime. There are so many seniors on Texas Tech, this qualifies as a huge embarrassment. I think Texas Tech might be our first job opening this year.