NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.29.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 29th, 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.

Butler

  • Head coach Brad Stevens believes that as long as he remains successful, he will keep being mentioned as a candidate for other jobs across the country. Stevens has been mentioned as a candidate for almost every major opening across the country, but the 34-year-old head coach is intensely focused on bringing the Bulldogs a title.
  • Junior guard Ronald Nored lost his starting spot and has been mired in a long shooting slump this season. However, without the defensive tenacity that Nored supplies off the bench, Butler might not be in the Final Four.
  • Last season, Butler was led by the trio of Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. With Hayward gone to the NBA, Butler has forged on being led by Mack and Howard.
  • Every successful team needs to be led by a point guard. For the Final Four Butler Bulldogs, that role has been filled admirably by Mack.
  • A fun read about how the Chicago Cubs will invite Brad Stevens and VCU head coach Shaka Smart to conduct the seventh inning stretch at a game at Wrigley Field this season.

Connecticut

  • UConn has followed a similar path of peaks and valleys to its opponent on Saturday, Kentucky. Both teams have evolved considerably since squaring off at the Maui Invitational in November. The Huskies’ freshmen have matured at an incredible rate, and Kentucky is feeding off of Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson more than Terrance Jones, who had the ball most of the time in the early going.
  • Kemba Walker was named a first team AP All-American on Monday, joining Jimmer Fredette, JaJuan Johnson, Nolan Smith and Jared Sullinger. A Wooden Award and Final Four MOP award are still in Walker’s sights.
  • VCU gets plenty of attention for its improbable run (and should), but how about UConn winning nine postseason games in 19 days to reach the Final Four? This March run from Jim Calhoun‘s squad didn’t look to be in the cards when the season started.
  • The UConn women’s team is one win away from matching their male counterparts. The UConn double-dip has been accomplished twice, in 2004 and 2009, and comparing the runs is inevitable for Huskies fans, writes The Hartford Courant‘s Jeff Jacobs.
  • At the time of his recruitment, Kemba Walker was considered a backup plan to Brandon Jennings, who spurned UConn and Arizona to spend a season overseas before entering the NBA draft. Jennings is doing well, but second-best has worked out pretty nicely for the Huskies.

Kentucky

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes that any banner Kentucky hangs under his watch will never come down. Calipari has previously had Final Four banners vacated at UMass and Memphis, but no one in Lexington has concerns over his past improprieties.
  • Stepping out of the shadow of John Wall, Kentucky freshman point guard Brandon Knight has already built his legacy for the Wildcats. It is unknown whether Knight will follow Wall’s lead and be a one-and-done, but Knight has already solidified a spot in Kentucky lore.
  • Kentucky freshman forward Terrence Jones has had a huge impact this season and is seen as a top NBA prospect. But, if Jones does not turn pro after this season, he could see his NBA stock drop.
  • It is still very hard to believe that Kentucky big man Josh Harrellson only played 28 total minutes last season. The senior has played a huge role in bringing the Wildcats to the Final Four.
  • A look back at five moments that shaped Kentucky’s run to the Final Four. It is interesting that Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and Darius Miller get mentioned, but Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones do not.

VCU

  • Despite the results, Jay Bilas holds steadfast to his Selection Sunday belief that VCU didn’t belong in the NCAA Tournament. Kudos for Bilas for sticking to his story, but every Rams win has him eating more crow.
  • It’s fitting that a school that stood a lottery ticket’s chance to make the Final Four is holding a draw for about 200 travel packages to San Antonio, including transportation, lodging and tickets to all three games in Houston.
  • What’s it like to be VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez on the VCU campus right now? Find out for yourself with this first-person video Rodriguez shot while entering the campus bookstore.
  • Jamie Skeen found a program that embraced him after transferring from Wake Forest after the 2008-09 season. Those in Skeen’s inner circle who were skeptical of the move have hopped aboard the VCU wagon, and Skeen is happy to have them along for the ride.
  • Part of Shaka Smart’s coaching success can be attributed to lessons learned from stops at Dayton, Akron, Clemson and Florida in assistant capacities. Is one season under Billy Donovan enough to call Smart part of his coaching tree?
Brian Goodman (747 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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