NCAA Tournament Final Tidbits: 04.03.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on April 3rd, 2012

With the season now finished, this will be our last version of NCAA Tournament Tidbits. Special thanks to contributors Brian Goodman and Walker Carey for putting these together throughout March Madness.

Kentucky

  • John Calipari finally won his first National Championship Monday night, which many think will catapult him from being a good coach to being a great coach. No matter your thoughts, it is time to give the coach his due.
  • Dan Wolken argues that you cannot blame John Calipari for the one-and-done culture that helped earn Kentucky its title. Wolken notes that Calipari has always been the same coach, but it is Kentucky that has changed to accommodate the coach’s way of recruiting and coaching.
  • Doron Lamb, who scored a game-high 22 points for the Wildcats, was so sharp in the team’s afternoon shoot-around that his coach told the sophomore that he expected 25 points from him. Lamb did not get that many buckets, but Calipari isn’t too upset about it.
  • All the talk after Monday’s game was about the freshmen and one-and-dones that are being shuffled through the Kentucky program. This talk was unfair to the sophomore Lamb, who was Kentucky’s standout offensive performer in its title victory.
  • Marquis Teague helped ignite Kentucky’s scorching start by scoring nine points in the game’s 13 minutes. This fast start and the leadership the freshman provided the Wildcats all night served to illustrate the improvement the guard has made throughout the season.
  • Darius Miller, Kentucky’s lone senior contributor, went from playing in the NIT as a freshman to becoming a national champion as a senior.
  • Anthony Davis was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite scoring just six points on 1-10 shooting in the title game. However, Davis contributed in many other ways, as he accumulated 16 rebounds, five assists, six blocks, and three steals.
  • Calipari noted after the game that he hopes there are six first-rounders that will come from Kentucky’s roster. The players he meant are Lamb, Teague, Miller, Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones.

Kansas 

  • In the past several years, the Jayhawks have found themselves despondent after tournament losses to underdogs such as Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth. While KU is undoubtedly disappointed with its loss to Kentucky, this disappointment feels a bit different.
  • At the beginning of the season, virtually no one thought Kansas had even the slightest chance to play for the national title. Considering this season’s supposed “rebuilding” year was coupled with the low expectations, this season’s Jayhawk squad has much to be proud of.
  • Thomas Robinson is certainly headed to the NBA, as he is a projected lottery pick. With Robinson out of the fold, Kansas will have a tough task in replacing the All-America forward.
  • Tyshawn Taylor was often seen as enigmatic throughout his first three seasons at Kansas. However, this season, Taylor put it all together and flourished as the floor general for the Jayhawks. Despite his successes, the ultimate goal of a title proved to be elusive.
  • Bill Self said after the game that he did not think his team had lost the game, it was just that Kentucky had won it.
  • After Monday night’s defeat, both Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey vowed they would be returning to Kansas for their senior seasons. With Tyshawn Taylor graduating and Thomas Robinson more than likely gone, the Jayhawks are going to need major contributions from Johnson and Withey next season.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.31.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 31st, 2012

Kansas

  • When former Kansas coach Larry Brown watched this year’s Jayhawks practice early in the season, he was not sure if this year’s squad would win 15 games. Considering this notion, Bill Self has really done an exceptional job this season.
  • During his first three seasons at Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor would be hardly allowed to play through his miscues. Now, the senior guard has the freedom and responsibility to correct errors and lead the team on the right path.
  • Even though he only played a limited role last season, many pundits still saw Thomas Robinson as a first round pick. Bill Self believes Robinson made the absolute right choice in coming back to school, as Self said, “Thomas wasn’t prepared to make a living.”
  • Most of the attention usually gets paid to Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson, but it cannot be overlooked that Elijah Johnson has quietly become the Jayhawks’ top weapon in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky 

  • John Calipari was a pretty big flop when he coached in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. There will be rumors this offseason about Calipari returning to the NBA to coach the New York Knicks, but the question will emerge if Calipari deserves that opportunity.
  • John Calipari has made several stops in his coaching career, which has exposed him to a lot of different people. All those people do have something in common though and that is Calipari considers them part of his family.
  • Freshman phenom Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has had to deal with a lot in his life for being only 18 years old. The death of the forward’s father and uncle have helped shape who he is as a person and a player.
  • In Kentucky’s storied basketball history, it had never had an AP Player of the Year. This all changed Friday when freshman standout big man Anthony Davis was named AP Player of the Year.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2012

Kansas

  • Bill Self has enhanced his already strong coaching reputation by leading a Kansas team with not as much talent as Kansas teams of the past to the Final Four.
  • Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News believes the career of Tyshawn Taylor mirrors that of a Shakespeare character. DeCourcy notes that Taylor’s career has consisted of conflict, resolution, dramatic twists, and ultimate redemption.
  • Despite the fact that Danny Manning and Barry Hinson have taken head coaching jobs at Tulsa and Southern Illinois respectively, Bill Self assured the public that all of Manning and Hinson’s attention is on Kansas this weekend.
  • Kevin Young compiled a career-best 14 points when Kansas defeated Ohio State on December 10. Young, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, arrived at Kansas via some unusual circumstances.

Louisville

  • Assistant coach Richard Pitino noted that there has been a pretty prominent change in the way his father, Rick Pitino coaches. The younger Pitino believes his father has a much better relationship with his players than he used to.
  • News broke that Rick Pitino will not be a member of this year’s Naismith Memorial National Basketball Hall of Fame class. Considering Pitino’s resume, this is a bit shocking.
  • Rick Pitino has been through a lot in his coaching career and his life, so it would be unfair to define the man solely based on the Karen Sypher extortion scandal.
  • Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith might be the most unlikely roommates of all-time, but the two are great friends and are keys to Louisville’s success.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.29.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 29th, 2012

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.

Kentucky

  • The play of sophomore forward Terrence Jones has been scrutinized all season. John Calipari notes that he realizes something that most fans do not and that is “Terrence Jones wants to please me in the worst way.”
  • John Calipari has his fair share of critics, but what Deron Snyder of The Washington Times points out is that Calipari is often criticized for winning within the rules.
  • Anthony Davis has deserved a lot of attention during his standout freshman season, but the forward has not let any of the attention make him cocky.
  • Darius Miller was replaced in Kentucky’s starting lineup by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the beginning of the season, but that demotion did not do anything to change Miller’s attitude. Kentucky’s lone senior has emerged as its unquestioned leader.

Ohio State

  • Sophomore point guard Aaron Craft has gotten a lot of attention for his defensive prowess, but he has also been the Buckeyes’ seasoned leader on the offensive end of the court.
  • Jared Sullinger has been the face of the Ohio State program for the past two seasons and the sophomore forward has undeniably fit that role well.
  • Sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., played his way onto the All-East Region team due to a very impressive four-game stretch. If Smith can produce like he has thus far in the NCAA Tournament, he will serve as a great complement to Sullinger and forward Deshaun Thomas.
  • Thad Matta is hoping to enjoy the Final Four moment while he can, but the Buckeyes head coach knows that enjoyment will come to an end when it is time to go to work on Kansas.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.28.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 28th, 2012

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.

Kansas

  • Heading into his second Final Four in four seasons, Kansas head coach Bill Self is the lowest paid of the four coaches who will be in New Orleans this weekend. Of the group, only Self and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino have won titles.
  • While Kansas reserve forward Kevin Young’s contributions might not show up in the box score, but Bill Self and Young’s teammates acknowledge the energy Young brings to the court.
  • Barry Hinson has served as Kansas’ director of basketball operations for the past four seasons and on Wednesday afternoon, the former Missouri State head coach will be introduced as the new head coach at Southern Illinois.
  •  The unorthodox triangle and two defense helped lead KU to its second Final Four in four seasons. In basketball, defense can win championships and Bill Self is well aware of this notion.

Louisville 

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.27.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 27th, 2012

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.

Kansas

  • Is calling the 2011-12 Jayhawks overachievers minimizing the season these guys had? Kansas has potential NBA talent at four of its five starting positions. It also has a four-year starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) and a Wooden Award finalist (Thomas Robinson).
  • Kansas senior point guard Taylor and junior forward Robinson have gotten most of the credit all season for the success of the Jayhawks. However, some of the role players, such as junior guard Elijah Johnson and junior center Jeff Withey, are currently making impressive contributions too.
  • Taylor has had a very polarizing career in a Kansas uniform. While he still catches some criticism, the senior point guard has cemented his Jayhawk legacy by helping to lead his team to the Final Four. Josh Selby who?
  • By now, most are familiar with the story of Robinson’s personal tragedies. Mike Miller of NBC Sports believes that if the casual fan needs a rooting interest this weekend, they should try T-Rob and the Jayhawks.

Louisville 

  • Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State will all go to New Orleans with lineups containing All-Americans and future NBA players, but this is not the case for Louisville.
  • Rick Pitino’s team battled injuries throughout most of the regular season, but when the Cardinals finally got healthy for postseason play, they have yet to lose a game.
  • Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was very complimentary of Kentucky freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Monday. Pitino said the freshman standout is one of his “favorite players to watch because he plays so hard.”
  • By winning two games in New Orleans, Rick Pitino can join former Arizona head coach Lute Olson as the only coaches to ever win a national title as a four-seed. Interestingly enough, Olson won his title against Pitino in 1997 when Pitino coached his last game as the head coach at Kentucky.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.26.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 26th, 2012

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.

Midwest Region

  • Where does Bill Self belong in the hierarchy of active college coaches? ESPN.com’s Jason King believes Self belongs at the very top.
  • The triangle and two defense that Kansas utilized towards the end of the game against North Carolina on Sunday left Roy Williams and the Tar Heels very confused. This defensive tactic demonstrated that fact that Williams was decidedly outcoached by Bill Self.
  • Kansas senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has had a pretty well-known love/hate relationship with Kansas fans. Taylor does not understand how fans cannot love him because he says, “I’m a lovable guy, man.”
  • North Carolina sophomore forward Harrison Barnes likely played the final game of his collegiate career Sunday. After a disappointing performance, Barnes went mostly quiet with many questions remaining.

West Region 

  • Florida‘s late game collapse versus Louisville on Saturday was quite similar to the Gators’ collapse against Butler in last season’s Elite Eight.
  • Louisville guard Russ Smith is well known for his erratic play on the court, but his play Saturday versus Florida was very steady.
  • Peyton Siva battled foul trouble all game long in the Cardinals’ victory over Florida; however, Louisville was still able to cut down the nets and celebrate a trip to the Final Four.
  • Louisville head coach Rick Pitino believes that the Kentucky/Louisville matchup in the Final Four will be “awesome.”
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 24th, 2012

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.

Midwest Region

  • Kansas has been winning dangerously throughout the NCAA Tournament against seemingly inferior competition. If the Jayhawks do not play better against North Carolina on Sunday, their run in the tournament may very well come to an end.
  • Kansas center Jeff Withey’s block with 10 seconds left helped save the Jayhawks from an upset by NC State. That block was one of 10 for the junior from San Diego.
  • NC State made a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen this season with a coach that many doubted when he was hired by school. Hiring Mark Gottfried looks like a good choice because the future is bright in Raleigh.
  • Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports believes that North Carolina’s run in the NCAA Tournament will come to an end Sunday. Forde says the Tar Heels have seen what life is like without the services of Kendall Marshall and it is not pretty.
  • Every year it seems like a mid-major school that has success in the NCAA Tournament vaults it coach into being a hot commodity for high major schools. This year Ohio’s John Groce fits that description.

West Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 23rd, 2012

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.

Midwest Region

  • Kansas star forward Thomas Robinson’s personal tragedies have been well-documented. The junior, who just turned 21 last week, is the key player for the Jayhawks as they look to move into the Elite Eight.
  • Kansas senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has faced a lot of adversity in basketball and in life. The guard from New Jersey has developed into a leader for Bill Self’s squad and he will look to lead the Jayhawks into an Elite Eight on Friday night.
  • Going into this season, there were many differing opinions regarding NC State forward CJ Leslie. Leslie has developed into a key player and a team leader for the overachieving Wolfpack that have already pulled two upsets in the NCAA Tournament.
  • When NC State athletic director Kay Yow named Mark Gottfried head coach last April, many people were surprised by the decision. As it turns out, Yow had the right idea, as Gottfried has led the Wolfpack through some hard times this season and into the Sweet Sixteen.
  • North Carolina star forward Harrison Barnes has a history as a saxophone player. Putting the music aside, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer is a key component to the team moving on in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Ohio head coach John Groce has seen his name tied to the openings at Nebraska and Illinois, but the Bobcats’ head coach will not say if he has any interest until his team’s run in the NCAA Tournament has concluded.

West Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.22.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2012

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.

Midwest Region

West Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 21st, 2012

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.

West Region

South Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 20th, 2012

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.

South Region

Midwest Region

  • Fans and media aren’t the only ones caught up in great performances by major talent among the mid-major ranks. It was recently revealed that in 2010, Baylor coach Scott Drew and then-Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl allegedly contacted Ohio‘s D.J. Cooper about transferring, which would constitute NCAA violations if the allegations are true. It will be interesting to see whether the subject is raised during Baylor’s media session this week.
  • Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde opines that even if North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall returns to the fold for a potential regional final, the odds are stacked heavily against the Heels.
  • The Tar Heels’ aren’t the only team from the state recovering from some health concerns. N.C. State will face Kansas Friday, and C.J. Williams and C.J. Leslie are recovering from fatigue. The severity isn’t even comparable to North Carolina’s situation, but a few days of rest will be especially helpful to the Wolfpack.
  • Basketball Prospectus’ C.J. Moore breaks down how Kansas topped Purdue on Sunday, from Elijah Johnson‘s fortitude to Bill Self‘s halftime adjustments.
  • There are already two coaching vacancies in the Big Ten, and Ohio coach John Groce could fit the bill at either Nebraska or Illinois after the season. Groce’s Big Ten connections, when combined with his team’s head-turning performance this postseason, make him appealing to the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is a tough job, but with a heavy commitment to hoops, Athletic Director Tom Osborne could find a catch.
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