Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is a contributing writer for Rush the Court.
By Ray Floriani
NEW YORK CITY – First the primary items. Baylor defeated San Diego State 76-62 and Penn State held on for a 67-59 win over Notre Dame in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
The final numbers….
What Baylor did to get to Thursday…Shoot the ball. They literally attacked on the perimeter going an unbelievable 11 of 22 from beyond the arc. LaceDarius Dunn had 23 points including 6 of 9 from three. Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells paced all scorers with 25. Jerrells is a problem for defenses as he is a deft penetrator as well as a perimeter threat. Baylor defended , in three NIT games their defensive PPP was over 1.00, largely be forcing 19 turnovers.
What Penn State did well… Defend and hold on. The first half Notre Dame had a .58 PPP and eFG mark of 26%. The Irish missed shots but credit the tough Penn State defense. The second half ND found the range and Luke Harangody (17 points) came alive. The Irish had what was almost a twenty-point deficit, down to a two possession game in the stretch. Penn State never lost the lead largely due to a big Jamelle Cornley (16 points) jumper with just under four to play.
The fans God love them…We are on the baseline press table. Myself and press row neighbor Jeff Bernstein, a former coach, who loves to talk strategy, get into a conversation with a Baylor fan Ryan Lindsey. He’s here in New York with his wife and young son. Turns out he coached ‘select ball’ AAU in Texas terms and noted, “the worst beatings we got were facing Blake Griffin’s teams when he was in high school. That kid was and is unstoppable.”
The conversation ran the gamut from John Calipari going to Kentucky to what happens at Memphis. Coaching openings were pondered until Scott occasionally gets up to holler “sit down Fisher if Freider didn’t leave you’d be at Ann Arbor junior high” in reference to the San Diego State coach who was disagreeing with the officials.
Scott is knowledgeable about schools and conferences around the nation. He tells us the Texas basketball job is a plum. “They pay over 2 million and just don’t want you to embarrass the school.” Translated, football rules.
The discussion goes on. Baylor is puling away and Scott and family have a few more nights in the Big Apple. “We need to go eat,” he says. “What will ten dollars get us? A pretzel?” he adds laughing. Waco is home but he knows the score in New York.
Finally Jeff says, “St. John’s has to get you on the schedule so you can get back to MSG and visit.” Scott says, “we would love it but out of conference Baylor plays ‘directional’ schools and SWAC schools. We had so many SWAC wins we expected their automatic to the NCAA play in.”
The buzzer sounds Baylor wins. “See you on Thursday”, Scott and his wife say. Undoubtedly they are fully enjoying the moment. As other Baylor faithful are.