ATB: Marshon Madness

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2011

The Lede.  It’s Wednesday night, so that of course meant a lot of action around the country tonight.  From a new conference scoring record to a ridiculous banked buzzer-beater to an unfortunate injury to a star player, it’s all here tonight.  We have to jump in, though, with a performance by a guy who doesn’t get much in the way of pub, but who has put together an outstanding season for his school in the toughest environment in the country.

Feet Set, Shoulders Square... (ProJo/R. Perez)

Your Watercooler MomentMarshon’s Moment.  It’s been a trying year for Marshon Brooks and his Providence Friars.  In any number of other leagues, PC might have been good enough to finish in the top third and make a legitimate run at the NCAA Tournament.  Not so in the Big East.  The Friars have struggled through a 3-12 conference season after a solid 11-2 non-conference slate which was short on quality wins but long on confidence.  In many ways, tonight’s one-point loss to Notre Dame, 94-93, was a microcosm of a year that has included a number of close losses to good teams.  Senior Marshon Brooks did his best to change that fortune tonight, dropping a historic 52-point night on the Irish, including an absurd 35 points in the second half, to give his team a realistic chance to pull off the upset.  The victory didn’t happen, but Brooks’ performance was one for the ages, representing the best scoring output in a Big East regular season game EVER.  Considering the number and quality of players who have come through this league, it’s fairly amazing that Brooks now owns this record.  His he-man sized performance matches Lamar guard Mike James’ surprising 52-point effort back in early January (remember him? — he’s only scored 131 points since!) for the best scoring night of 2010-11, and without question tonight at the Dunk will be an evening that the fans and players in attendance will never forget.  For a team going nowhere fast this season, sometimes it’s moments of individual glory such as these that give a team something to hang its hat on.

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. IIJosh Gasser, I-Banker.  Josh Gasser, a freshman guard on the Wisconsin Badgers, ended up with the ball in his hands after his teammate and star player, Jordan Taylor, was double-teamed on the last possession.  Down two, he fired away from long range, banking the ball into the basket and causing a fit of Badger mayhem at center court after the ball fell through the net.  Sometimes it’s just your year, and sometimes it’s not.  The home team, Michigan, has taken much more of the latter than the former, losing multiple close games that have put John Beilein’s Wolverines squarely on the thin side of the bubble.  Bo Ryan’s team, on the other hand, continues to win games to pressure Purdue and Ohio State in the Big Ten race; with the nation’s most efficient offense and the occasional stroke of luck as performed by Gasser tonight, the Badgers are going to be a major headache for teams that face them this postseason.

Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. IIIGeorgetown’s Season Goes Wrong.  The Hoyas didn’t have a lot of depth to begin with, so this sort of thing had to be on the mind of Hoya fans everywhere this season — guard Chris Wright breaking his left hand is exactly such a thing.  In tonight’s eventual loss to Cincinnati, the Hoyas were already playing terribly, but when Wright reached in with twelve minutes remaining and fractured his hand, a rough night turned into a horrific nightmare of bricks (only four second half FGs) and disjointed play.  Given that we’re less than a week away from March, we’d find it difficult to envision a situation where Wright could return effectively to the lineup — after all, he needs to be able to dribble the ball with either hand.  Now with two losses in three games and the possibility of losing its second-leading scorer and top distributor, the Hoyas appear primed to founder down the stretch run of the season — how disappointing.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Teams Helping Themselves: UNLV, K-State, Cincinnati.  Even in a down year, The Pit is never an easy place to get a win, yet UNLV notched an overtime victory in Albuquerque tonight, helping the Rebs make their continuing case as the third NCAA-worthy team out of the Mountain West.  Their only two losses in the last nine games were to none other than BYU and SDSU — we think they’ll be ok.  K-State earned a tough road win at Nebraska, no easy place to play recently (ask Texas).  The Wildcats behind a resurgent Jacob Pullen (27 pts) continue to surge, winning its fifth in six games and slowly moving its way back up the Big 12 standings and into a near-lock status for the NCAA Tournament.  As for the Bearcats, if there was any doubt remaining about their worthiness, that was erased in a masterful defensive performance tonight, holding Georgetown to 25% from the field.  They’ll get another chance for a win against the Hoyas (without Chris Wright) next week.
  • Aaron Ellis Sets Up MVC Championship Battle.  Aaron Ellis received a pass cutting down the lane with 1.5 seconds remaining in tonight’s game versus Creighton, and knocked it in to give Wichita State the big 67-65 win tonight (for the highlight, check this video starting at around 3:15).  This, combined with Missouri State’s win over Southern Illinois tonight, means that Saturday’s WSU at MSU battle will decide the regular season championship this season.  In what is likely to become a one-bid league, every little bit helps.
  • Tide Continues to Roll Win.  The Tide are certainly one of the more interesting power conference stories we’ve had in a while, but you have to give them credit for continuing to find ways to win games.  With JaMychal Green’s tip-in with 0.3 seconds on the clock, Bama moved to 19-8 overall and 11-2 in the SEC.  Normally, an 11-2 team in the SEC would be a mortal lock for the NCAA Tournament, but Anthony Grant’s team is in no such position after having lost to St. Peter’s, Iowa and Providence earlier this year.  The question is, at what point can Alabama win enough games to merit serious consideration for the Dance?  They’re only 3-4 against the RPI Top 100, but they’ll have opportunities to earn more with their final three games: @ Ole Miss, @ Florida and vs. Georgia.  Their overall RPI is #78, so even if they go 2-1 in those final three, you’d have to figure they’re going to still have considerable work to do in the SEC Tournament to get it done.  Strange situation.
  • Charles Jenkins in the Record Books.  With Jenkins’ 22 points tonight, the talented scoring guard from Hofstra moved into #2 in the all-time CAA scoring list, behind a pretty solid player by the name of David Robinson.  Now with 2,442 points, he remains 227 points behind The Admiral, whose lead is undoubtedly safe unless the Pride are planning on winning the CAA Tournament and making a Mason-like run to the Final Four or an NIT championship (he’d still need to average over 25 PPG over the next nine games, only three of which are guaranteed).

and Misses.

  • Jimmer Slump.  It’s not like he can’t throw it into the Great Salt Lake, but Jimmer Fredette’s been in a bit of a slump over the past few games.  Tonight’s 34-point outing in a win over Colorado State in Provo punctuated that The Jimmer’s shot hasn’t been as pure as we would normally like.  He shot 9-26 and seven turnovers this evening, following outings of 6-16 and 7-19 last week (+ nine total TOs).  In fact, going back to the SDSU game on January 26, Fredette has only shot 50% or greater one time (8-16 vs. Air Force).  This is a minor nitpick, of course, because Fredette hasn’t been ice cold either, and he continues to shoot 46% from the field on the season and 41% from deep.  We’ve just come to expect the guy to make just about everything he puts up, so you’ll forgive us if we notice when he misses quite a few more than he makes — tonight was his worst performance of the season in that regard (17 misses, nine makes).
  • Kentucky’s Continuing Road Woes.  How on earth these Wildcats defeated Louisville on the road, we have no idea.  After an overtime loss at Arkansas tonight, Kentucky is now 1-6 on the road in the SEC.  That’s not bad, folks, that’s abysmal, especially when you consider that the SEC is largely a pathetic basketball conference and the teams UK is losing to will not see much of a postseason, if one at all.  While many people seem surprised by this, we’re not feeling it.  John Calipari has been a coach who relies on out-talenting his opponents for some time now, and this year’s Wildcats simply don’t have enough of it to run his style successfully in hostile environments.  It worked last year because they had five first round picks, but other than Terrence Jones, it’s arguable that there’s only one on this year’s squad. 
  • Chris Singleton and the Bus He Rode On.  Sometimes you can learn something without so much as a single keystroke.  Chris Singleton re-tweeted a tweet by Tallahassee Democrat beat writer discussing how FSU’s defense has fallen off considerably in the last few games.  Is there a message there, in that Singleton has been injured since the Virginia game, and the versatile forward is somehow trying to show his elite value?  We won’t necessarily argue with him — Maryland ripped apart the FSU defense tonight — but we’re not sure that he should be emphasizing how bad the ‘Noles are without him in the lineup.

Tweet of the Night.  In reference to the absurdity put forth by the UConn student daily today, we enjoyed this clever response.

rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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