NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.21.13 EditionPosted by WCarey on March 21st, 2013
The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.
- Louisville and Kentucky are bitter in-state rivals, but the Cardinals do not take a special joy in playing on their rival’s home court in their opening game in the NCAA Tournament.
- Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy had a few interesting things to say in his press conference the day before his team is set to take on Missouri. He said this year has been the most difficult first year he has had at any program due to the high expectations for the team. He also added that before this season, he always thought the Mountain West was overrated.
- Missouri has been a bit of an enigma all season, but the Tigers are still a very talented team. When it comes to scouting Frank Haith‘s squad, it all starts with taking a look at point guard Phil Pressey.
- Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was hoping for his team to be placed in the San Jose pod and he got his wish on Selection Sunday. The 1,648 miles between Stillwater and San Jose was the farthest first round option for the Cowboys, but lengthy travel is nothing new to this season’s squad.
- Oregon is going to have one of the nation’s top recruits in the stands for its game against Oklahoma State in San Jose on Thursday. Aaron Gordon, a 6’8″ forward from San Jose, will be at the game – UO is in the final four for his services – along with Kentucky, Arizona, and Washington. Interesting fact about Gordon is that he was an AAU teammate of Ducks freshman point guard Dominic Artis.
- Saint Louis has drawn great acclaim all season for its ability to play as a team. The team concept has been led by senior point guard Kwamain Mitchell, who wants to keep playing his final season in a Saint Louis uniform.
- Memphis coach Josh Pastner was not too pleased when a reporter suggested Wednesday that the Tigers were not battle-tested. In response, Pastner exclaimed, “To say we are not battle-tested is ridiculous. Do you recognize that every single time we step on the floor that we get everyone’s best shot. We’ve won 26 straight Conference USA games.”
- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is mostly excited to be playing in Auburn Hills on Thursday, but he does acknowledge that there are potential negatives that go with playing that close to home. Izzo knows that he must manage the possible distractions and keep his team focused.
- Valparaiso forward Kevin Van Wijk was ready to give up basketball after one season as a Crusader due to a surgically-repaired back that just was not getting any better. This all changed due to a relationship he forged with Frank Eksten of the Sports Medicine Institute in Crown Point, Indiana. Van Wijk’s back has improved dramatically and he is now Valparaiso’s second leading-scorer.
- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is looking for seniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee to step up their leadership in the NCAA Tournament.
- Gonzaga has not made it to an Elite Eight since 1999, but the Bulldogs have not suffered shocking first-round upsets like other high-profile programs. Does this mean Gonzaga’s label as an underachiever in the NCAA Tournament is unfair?
- Wichita State forward Carl Hall has a well-known reputation of being the Shocker with the dreadlocks. Well, that reputation is no longer factual as Hall cut his hair Monday for the first time in five years.
- Wisconsin forward Ryan Evans has been a lot more comfortable at the foul line ever since he adopted the jump-shooting technique. This change has allowed Evans to have more confidence at the line, which has resulted in more willingness to get to the rim and draw fouls.
- Ole Miss has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2002, but the Rebels are not entering this season’s event with concerns about their lack of experience.
- Kansas State was struggling to adjust to the new offense of first-year coach Bruce Weber in the early season, but the Wildcats have since become very well accustomed to the system and their offense has thrived.
- Arizona guard Jordin Mayes had struggled with confidence issues with his shot for must much of his junior season, but he has broken out of his slump in March and looks primed to make an impact for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.
- Belmont guard Ian Clark led the nation this season with a 46.3 percent mark from deep and this has definitely caught the attention of Arizona, the Bruins’ Round of 64 opponent.
- New Mexico coach Steve Alford agreed to a new 10-year deal Wednesday that will keep the coach in charge of the Lobos basketball team through the 2022-23 season.
- Notre Dame coach Mike Brey has had his fair share of struggles in the NCAA Tournament. For this season’s event, he is aiming to maintain the attitude of keeping his team loose in hopes that it will allow the Irish to put the past missteps behind them.
- Is this season Ohio State coach Thad Matta‘s best coaching job in Columbus? Consider this: Matta took a team with no big man presence and no defined second scoring option, and took it to a Big Ten Tournament title.
- Kansas freshman forward Perry Ellis has made quite the emergence off the bench for the Jayhawks this month. His production is very important in that he can effectively provide minutes while starters Jeff Withey and/or Kevin Young rest.
- Villanova senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou has been a mainstay for the Wildcats in his four years on campus. Yarou’s heart, soul, and desire have been at the core of the success of this year’s successful Villanova squad.
- VCU is never deficient in speed, quickness, or heat, but where the Rams are deficit is in their size. 6’9″ forward Juvonte Reddic is their biggest player and that could be a problem as they make their way through the Tournament.
- Akron senior center Zeke Marshall struggled mightily in an NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame in 2011, but he is determined to put forth a better performance against VCU on Thursday to help the Zips earn an upset victory.
- Michigan junior forward Jordan Morgan struggled down the stretch of the regular season and had a forgettable performance in the Big Ten Tournament. With freshman forward Mitch McGary performing well for the Wolverines, it is possible that he may get the start over Morgan when Michigan plays South Dakota State Thursday.
- UCLA point guard Larry Drew II left North Carolina just two years ago as an almost forgotten man but has since emerged as a leader for the Bruins. Drew II was among the national leaders in assists this season.
- Minnesota has had a very inconsistent season, but the Golden Gophers have been afforded the possibility of turning around their frustrating season in the NCAA Tournament.
- Both Florida and Northwestern State have gained reputations as very solid offensive teams, therefore it is not illogical to assume that Friday’s game between the two squads will be a track meet.
- Oklahoma is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 and the road back has not exactly been easy for the Sooners.
- CBSSports.com named its National Player of the Year Wednesday and the honor went to Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter.
- Indiana coach Tom Crean was reluctant to talk about his team’s deficiencies as it prepares to begin play in the NCAA Tournament. He decided instead to just state: “We just need to get better.
- In a team full of much more recognized players, North Carolina State power forward Richard Howell has stepped up as a force for the Wolfpack.
- Most national pundits have a very talented North Carolina State team topping Temple in Friday’s matchup between the two squads, but this perception is not stopping the Owls from preparing for a victory
- UNLV freshman standout Anthony Bennett is uncertain about his future as the NCAA Tournament is set to begin. The talented forward would undoubtedly be a high lottery pick if he decides to enter this year’s NBA Draft.
- Cal coach Mike Montgomery anticipated big things from freshman Tyrone Wallace, but he did not expect the talented guard to play such a crucial role for the Golden Bears during his first season in Berkeley.
- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has ties to Montana, the team’s Round of 64 opponent, as his eldest daughter received her master’s degree from the University of Montana and still resides in Missoula.
- Butler has made an improbable rise from the Horizon League to the Big East in just two years and David Woods of the Indianapolis Star writes that this leap should help to ensure that coach Brad Stevens stays on as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
- Marquette coach Buzz Williams has earned quite the reputation for his “gift of gab” during his tenure as the head coach of the Golden Eagles and this gift was never more evident than when he took the podium Wednesday to discuss his team’s Thursday match-up with Davidson.
- Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul has had an up-and-down career, but the talented scorer has a shot at finishing strong as the NCAA Tournament is set to begin.
- Miami coach Jim Larranaga unexpectedly took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 and now, he is looking to recreate some similar magic in his second season as the leader of the Hurricanes.