The Lede. It’s Wednesday night, so that of course meant a lot of action around the country tonight. From a new conference scoring record to a ridiculous banked buzzer-beater to an unfortunate injury to a star player, it’s all here tonight. We have to jump in, though, with a performance by a guy who doesn’t get much in the way of pub, but who has put together an outstanding season for his school in the toughest environment in the country.
Your Watercooler Moment. Marshon’s Moment. It’s been a trying year for Marshon Brooks and his Providence Friars. In any number of other leagues, PC might have been good enough to finish in the top third and make a legitimate run at the NCAA Tournament. Not so in the Big East. The Friars have struggled through a 3-12 conference season after a solid 11-2 non-conference slate which was short on quality wins but long on confidence. In many ways, tonight’s one-point loss to Notre Dame, 94-93, was a microcosm of a year that has included a number of close losses to good teams. Senior Marshon Brooks did his best to change that fortune tonight, dropping a historic 52-point night on the Irish, including an absurd 35 points in the second half, to give his team a realistic chance to pull off the upset. The victory didn’t happen, but Brooks’ performance was one for the ages, representing the best scoring output in a Big East regular season game EVER. Considering the number and quality of players who have come through this league, it’s fairly amazing that Brooks now owns this record. His he-man sized performance matches Lamar guard Mike James’ surprising 52-point effort back in early January (remember him? — he’s only scored 131 points since!) for the best scoring night of 2010-11, and without question tonight at the Dunk will be an evening that the fans and players in attendance will never forget. For a team going nowhere fast this season, sometimes it’s moments of individual glory such as these that give a team something to hang its hat on.
Your Watercooler Moment, Pt. II. Josh Gasser, I-Banker. Josh Gasser, a freshman guard on the Wisconsin Badgers, ended up with the ball in his hands after his teammate and star player, Jordan Taylor, was double-teamed on the last possession. Down two, he fired away from long range, banking the ball into the basket and causing a fit of Badger mayhem at center court after the ball fell through the net. Sometimes it’s just your year, and sometimes it’s not. The home team, Michigan, has taken much more of the latter than the former, losing multiple close games that have put John Beilein’s Wolverines squarely on the thin side of the bubble. Bo Ryan’s team, on the other hand, continues to win games to pressure Purdue and Ohio State in the Big Ten race; with the nation’s most efficient offense and the occasional stroke of luck as performed by Gasser tonight, the Badgers are going to be a major headache for teams that face them this postseason.