As you’re no doubt aware, we’ve had our cadre of correspondents traveling around the country to each of the eight NCAA sites over the weekend. We’ve asked the guys to produce a weekend diary of the games they witnessed including analysis, commentary and opinion concerning the sights and sounds at their venues. Our hope is that the diaries will give you insights into the games that you may not have otherwise had from watching them on television or catching the highlights package afterward. Let us know how we do…
Note: for all of the opening weekend diaries, click here.
Location: Chicago, IL
Teams: Notre Dame, Florida State, VCU, Purdue
Date: 20 March 2011
- JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore’s careers ended before they could get the finish that they and their coach wanted. Moore, who became Purdue’s all-time leading three-point shooter on Friday against St. Peter’s, couldn’t get into a groove with only 10 points on 5-15 shooting, including 0-3 from beyond the arc. Johnson scored 25 points and grabbed 14 boards, but he was forced to watch a layup line go to the basket around him on defense. “You want those guys to go out with a bang,” Matt Painter said. “They deserved better than this.” To his credit, Painter took the high road when discussing the difficulties his team faced this season, including the loss of Robbie Hummel to injury and the suspension of Kelsey Barlow right before the start of the NCAA Tournament. “I don’t think that had anything to do with it,” Painter said about Barlow’s suspension. “Obviously, he gives you athleticism and length. He’s a versatile guy you can put on a lot of different people. We still get beat with him. There’s no question. They were very good. They were beating a lot of people tonight.”
- Joey Rodriguez is VCU’s little engine that can. The 5’10 senior point guard has been as enigmatic as his team this season. On Sunday he played almost perfectly with 12 points, 11 assists and no turnovers. “I thought Joey Rodriguez was excellent,” said Matt Painter. “I thought he was the difference in the game. He ran the team. He found shooters. He found guys diving. He was persistent, very determined.” Shaka Smart went even a step further, “These guys are hungry guys. Joey’s nuts. He wants to win the whole thing, I guarantee you. And he kind of leads the way for everybody. So I’m not worried about there being a letdown.” If Rodriguez plays like he did on Sunday the Rams have a chance.
- The Florida State Seminoles are that elusive extra something that the ACC has been looking for since the 2006 Boston College Eagles: a team besides North Carolina and Duke that makes the Sweet Sixteen. Leonard Hamilton’s crew will be joining those two blue bloods in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament after two convincing wins over Texas A&M and Notre Dame. “For me personally as a coach I’ve felt all along that we could get to this point,” said Hamilton. “Our goals are to be a program of significance in the ACC and on a national basis.”