Big East M5: 02.27.13 EditionPosted by mlemaire on February 27th, 2013
- Jim Boeheim was saying things in front of a microphone again and, after a tough road loss to Marquette in which his team led for the better part of the game, he was entertaining as always. He was cranky with reporters and didn’t seem to like a few of the questions that were tossed his way. He had good reason for his attitude, too, as Jeff Goodman points out. The Orange have been erratic as of late and they don’t look like a team that is ready to challenge for a spot in the Final Four, so Boeheim isn’t necessarily keen on fielding questions about his team’s abilities and his coaching decisions. Of course Boeheim can get cranky with reporters all he wants but if Syracuse doesn’t find some outside shooting and consistent effort for 40 minutes, it will be the team and their chances for postseason success that will start to become the issue.
- Goodman clearly came correct in the last two days because his other story out of the Marquette and Syracuse tilt was also an excellent one. This one focused on how Marquette is tired of hearing about how hard they play, which struck a chord, because just yesterday I mentioned how the Golden Eagles owed much of their success to how hard they play. The fact of the matter is that Marquette doesn’t have NBA talent on its roster aside from perhaps Vander Blue, and they have wildly overachieved this season in a ruggedly competitive conference without their best two players and leading scorers from last season. They don’t have the talent to be this good, so they make up for it with heady play and excellent depth at multiple positions… oh, and how hard they play. Goodman makes sure to rightly give coach Buzz Williams much of the credit for the sustained success and the way the Golden Eagles play is really just an extension of the way Williams coaches — with intensity, competitiveness, and grit.
- Williams isn’t the only coach who deserves a fair amount of credit for helping his team overachieve this season. Georgetown has been another conference success story this season behind star player Otto Porter and a slew of useful role players who can step up in big moments, but a primary reason for their success has been the coaching job of John Thompson III. The Hoyas didn’t win pretty early in the season, but they won often, and when second-leading scorer Greg Whittington was suspended, the team was supposed to struggle but instead has gone 11-1. The lineup tinkering has worked, young players have developed on schedule, and the Hoyas are playing some of their best basketball of the season with a big assist from the man in charge of making all those things work.
- I said it yesterday and I will say it again, UConn is going to come to play tonight when they get a visit from Georgetown for what will be the biggest remaining game on their season. Huskies’ coach Kevin Ollie is yet another coach helping his team overachieve and he has done a masterful job keeping his team focused and motivated. Of course the players deserve some credit for the team’s success this season as well, and if they can’t get fired up to try and upset a Top 10 team, then they shouldn’t be playing this sport. The Hoyas will not be able to afford to come out flat, because Gampel Pavilion will be rocking and if the Huskies start fast and the Hoyas struggle to keep up, the team and the fans in the arena will quickly smell blood in the water.
- The best part about the Big East this season has been how evenly matched the top six teams are. At this juncture in the season, there are plenty of teams still mathematically alive in the hunt for the regular season title and one of those is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were a trendy pick to compete for the title this season because of their returning experience and despite some rough patches earlier in the season, they find themselves right in the thick of the race with just a couple games left. Now, their chances at winning the regular season title are quite slim, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t committed to winning out and doing their best to keep the pressure on the teams above them.