ATB: Double-OT Causes Frank Martin’s Head to Explode, Harvard Acquits Itself Well, & Kilicli’s Beard…Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2011
Tonight’s Lede. Thursday was a light night on our college basketball buffet, but there were at least two games that made sticking around the house and avoiding the hordes of hysterics downtown worthwhile. An early look at a team that some have been (wrongfully) calling the best Ivy League team of all-time versus the defending national champs was followed by a double-overtime slugfest in the heartland featuring teacher and student. The quality of basketball on this night was not the highest we’ve ever seen, but it was entertaining and it sure beat getting run over by nutty shoppers at CB2.
Your Watercooler Moment. Frank Martin’s Insanity Is No Match For His Mentor.
The above clip was the result of the play that more or less sealed the game for West Virginia in its key 85-80 double-overtime road victory “at” Kansas State tonight (actually in Wichita, but the place was purple). Frank Martin’s f-bombing eyeball act is a bit to Bobby Knight-ish for our tastes, but his ire may have been better directed in chastising the player(s) assigned guarding West Virginia’s superb forward, Kevin Jones, rather than running down his reserve guard, Angel Rodriguez. Even against a defense as tough as K-State’s, Jones made mincemeat of it. He went for his career-high 30 points using a variety of baby hooks, jumpers, drives and crafty maneuvers around the basket. He also grabbed 12 boards, blocked two shots, and hit the three to send the game to overtime as well as the post move to give WVU the lead for good in the second overtime. In other words, he spent 49 of 50 available minutes giving Frank Martin’s team and coaching staff nightmares. In proving that sometimes you just never know, Jones is bringing 21/12 to the table this season while shooting the ball at a 57% clip. Everybody knew he was good, but he’s putting up All-America type of numbers right now. Whether that is sustainable remains to be seen, what we can say with certainty is that this game between Bob Huggins as mentor and Frank Martin as pupil is a very good one — if this is what WVU’s admittance to the Big 12 will regularly look like, a street fight somewhere on the Plains, we’re on board.
This Other Interesting Thing. Harvard Passes the All-Important Eyeball Test. We all like to pretend that it doesn’t matter, but just like the friend of a friend who sounds great on paper, you ultimately have to see it for yourself. Last year in this game, the Ivy League regular season co-champion got run out of the gym by the Huskies, 81-52. Tonight, in front of a national television audience on ESPN2, Tommy Amaker’s team hung. They were only down a bucket at the half, and even after allowing a Husky 17-3 run to start the second half, the Crimson managed to close the gap to within seven points with five minutes to go and UConn was never able to get completely comfortable. Perhaps most importantly, though, Harvard passed the eyeball test. They didn’t look completely out of place in the context of the game — they were able to run their sets and find openings and not become overwhelmed with the size, speed and athleticism that Jim Calhoun has at his disposal. If Harvard finds itself back on the bubble again somehow; or, if the selection committee is simply choosing its seed, their collective memory of how the Crimson performed in Storrs tonight will be at the forefront of their mind. It shouldn’t matter, but it does matter, and that’s why Harvard should feel good about its performance tonight — a key objective was achieved.
Tonight’s Quick Hits...
- The Vikings Save Cleveland. December 8, 2011, wasn’t the city of Cleveland’s best day, but at least one bastion of local pride came through as Cleveland State went on the road at Robert Morris and came away with a 62-58 better-than-it-looks win. Everyone remembers CSU’s win at Vanderbilt last month, but the Vikings have also won four other true road games and a neutral site game, putting themselves in great shape heading into a stretch where five of their next seven games are at home. When Cleveland State is on the bubble next March if it doesn’t win the Horizon League, it will be wins like tonight’s that could put the Vikings over the top.
- Andre Drummond’s Face. For the first time all season, we were able to see what UConn’s super freshman looks like without a mask on his mug. He’s worn the mask to protect a broken nose he suffered in the early days of practice, but tonight’s game against Harvard may have sent shivers of fear up and down the east coast. He had five dunks in six made shots, several of which were the eye-popping quality, making us wonder if his somewhat slowish start this season (8/6/3 BPG) is only now about to take off. Seriously, if Drummond becomes a 14/10/5 guy, Connecticut is right there with the rest of the elite teams in America.
… and Misses.
- Deniz Kilicli’s Beard. Hey, we’re huge fans of facial hair on ball players, but this thing is horrible. Although it’s so completely awful that it just might be awesome, we’re not sure yet. The thing is… it’s only early December. Even though he’s probably already got a few chipmunks and other nesting animals living in there, he could potentially ride this thing all the way into March and start resembling Phil Jackson during his Knicks days. And maybe he won’t really wash it and players will avoid driving the lane not because of his shot-blocking prowess but due to the rancid collection of scraggly hairs on his face. Hey, he’s on record as saying he likes keeping it big. It could happen.
- NPOY – Kevin Jones, West Virginia. Jones dunked, sliced and shot his way to a career-best 30/12 game in 49 minutes of double-overtime action in Wichita.
- Eric Atkins, Notre Dame. Atkins went for 26/6 assts with five threes in a too-close-for-comfort victory over Maine
- LaDontae Henton, Providence. The freshman Friar forward had an impressive 21/7 in PC’s home win over New England rival, Boston College.
- Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut. Lamb led his Huskies to a win over newly-ranked Harvard with a 18/7/3 stls evening.
- Yannick Crowder, Florida A&M. It won’t be often we get a MEAC player in here, but Crowder’s 28/13 on 12-15 FGs deserves a spot tonight.
Tweet of the Night. Props to Ryan Greene, UNLV beat writer at TheReb.com, for pointing this out. Yes, yes, we did.