NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.28.11Posted by Brian Goodman on March 28th, 2011
Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.
- In what was thought to be a transition year for Kentucky, head coach John Calipari has led the Wildcats to the Final Four. Due to the personnel and roster turnover from last season, it can be argued that this season is Calipari’s best work.
- The Final Four matchup between Connecticut and Kentucky is made even more interesting due to the history between John Calipari and Jim Calhoun. However, both men have acknowledged that the feud is behind them.
- John Calipari has seen his Final Four banners from his tenures at UMass and Memphis get taken down due to NCAA violations. Kentucky president Dr. Lee Todd insisted on Sunday that “this banner will not be taken down.”
- Kentucky junior guard DeAndre Liggins was undoubtedly a pest for North Carolina. Liggins was a stalwart defensively, got into the heads of several Tar Heels, and made the shot that seemingly lifted the Wildcats to the Final Four.
- While Sunday’s loss stings for North Carolina now, it can be argued that the loss will eventually benefit the program. If Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller all return to Chapel Hill, UNC will enter next season as a title contender once again.
- With two Final Four appearances already under his belt at the age of 34, Butler head coach Brad Stevens is moving up the coaching pantheon at a rapid pace. Considering the success of the past two seasons, we can assume that Stevens is just getting started.
- Butler forward Matt Howard takes a workmanlike approach to the game of basketball. This approach embodies Butler basketball, and he’s not through yet.
- The Bulldogs have experienced two close calls with injuries in their last two games. The anxiety that fills Butler fans’ hearts when someone comes up limp have been as heart-stopping as the Butler’s unexpected heroics.
- An interesting piece about whether Miami (FL) should go after Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart to be the Hurricanes’ head coach. This is interesting due to the fact that Frank Haith is still gainfully employed by the Hurricanes and was thought by many to have one year left to translate the Durand Scott/Malcolm Grant/Reggie Johnson trio into some postseason success.
- Even with his Elite Eight loss to Butler, Florida head coach Billy Donovan is still proud of the season his Gators put together. After embarrassing early season losses to Central Florida and Jacksonville, the Gators put together a run that mimicked the 2006 and 2007 editions of the Florida Gators.
- Sunday’s historic defeat at the hands of VCU especially hurts for Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, Kansas‘ two seniors who were also the last holdovers from KU’s 2008 championship run. Sunday’s loss shouldn’t take much away from terrific careers and a fabulous season for the Jayhawks.
- VCU forward Brandon Rozzell had quite the memorable 22nd birthday on Sunday, hitting four of seven threes to contribute to the Rams’ monumental upset of Kansas. After #21, the milestone birthdays tend to tail off, but that clearly wasn’t not the case for Rozzell on Sunday.
- USA Today reports that VCU’s administration will make an aggressive effort to keep Shaka Smart in Richmond. The wild ride continues for the coach who didn’t even gather his team for the Selection Sunday unveiling, and the exposure gained from VCU’s run makes him one of the hottest commodities in coaching.
- Businesses in Lawrence were hit hard just as the Jayhawks were in San Antonio. At least one area merchandise store manager said he intends to send dozens of t-shirts intended to celebrate a KU Final Four run to Japan to help with earthquake relief efforts.
- No concrete declarations were made by Kansas’ players regarding their futures. Depending on who you ask, the Jayhawks had up to five NBA prospects on this season’s team, lead by Marcus and Markieff Morris. With just one commit in its 2011 recruiting class at present, the words “mass exodus” could strike anxiety into the hearts of some KU followers, but on the other hand, the desire for another crack at a title could be incentive enough for everyone to stay.
- Arizona‘s Derrick Williams also kept quiet about his future with the team. Drawing comparisons to Blake Griffin with his athleticism and high-powered dunks, Williams is considered by many to be the draft’s top pick, and certainly in the top five. There’s nothing wrong with taking time, though, especially considering the uncertainty about the next NBA season.
- Jim Calhoun leads UConn into next week’s semifinal amidst a cloud of NCAA sanctions hovering over his program. While Calhoun is responsible for recruiting violations, there’s something to be said for him keeping the Huskies focused, winning nine tournament games in a span of 19 days.
- Jeremy Lamb continued to shine last weekend, turning the heads of those who had labeled him as one of many teammates simply along for Kemba Walker‘s ride. One-man teams rarely make it out of the second weekend, and there’s much more to UConn than originally believed at the beginning of the season.
- Rumors of Sean Miller leaving his post at Arizona to take the reins of NC State were quickly squashed before the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to Connecticut. Miller has Arizona back among the nation’s top programs after a lull in the wake of Lute Olson‘s retirement, and a departure to NC State would mean a third stop in four seasons for Miller, who prefers to keep his family planted in Tucson.
- UConn assistant Kevin Ollie continues to be an important part of Jim Calhoun’s coaching staff as the Huskies enter the Final Four. A four-year player at Storrs, Ollie went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA before making his return.