NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.01.13 Edition

Posted by WCarey on April 1st, 2013

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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

  • Louisville senior associate athletic director for media relations Kenny Klein tweeted a photo of Cardinals guard Kevin Ware moving around on crutches Monday morning, less than 24 hours after suffering a gruesome broken leg in the first half of Sunday’s victory over Duke.
  • An outstanding column from Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports discussing how the courage and strength shown by Louisville guard Kevin Ware after his horrific leg injury served to inspire the Cardinals to get past Duke and reach the Final Four.
  • Has Louisville forward Gorgui Dieng improved his NBA Draft stock during the team’s NCAA Tournament run?
  • Louisville guard Russ Smith was named Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional. The dynamic junior has dominated the tournament thus far, as he is averaging 26 points per contest.
  • Duke freshman swingman Rasheed Sulaimon was quite emotional after his subpar performance in Sunday’s loss to Louisville and in the process, he left no doubt that he truly cares about success and his teammates.
  • Andrew Jones of FoxSportsCarolinas.com writes that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski got just about everything he could out of this year’s Blue Devils.

West Region

  • Wichita State is confident that it belongs in the Final Four. The ninth-seeded Shockers are in the Final Four for the first time since 1965.
  • Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall reminded his team to “play angry” at halftime of the Shockers’ Elite Eight victory over Ohio State and after notching the Elite Eight victory, they are playing angry into the Final Four.
  • Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall took Sunday to re-charge after Saturday’s thrilling Elite Eight victory over Ohio State, but he is back at work Monday preparing for Saturday’s Final Four match-up with top-seeded Louisville.
  • Here is an interesting story about a man from Long Beach, California, who put a $10 bet on Wichita State to win the national title. The Shockers had 750-1 odds to cut down the nets at the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, so he would win $7,500 off that bet if they do end up winning the title.

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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #2 Syracuse

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 11th, 2012

In our St. John’s preview, we stated that the Johnnies went through about as much adversity as one team could in a single season. If that’s the case, Syracuse was a close second. The Bernie Fine scandal would have been enough to derail most teams, but it seemed to put a chip on the shoulder of the Orange, who spent a portion of the year ranked first in the nation after Kentucky lost at Indiana. The Fab Melo saga was harder to overcome, and came to a head in Syracuse’s Elite Eight loss to Ohio State. Syracuse lost four of its main rotation players from last season – guards Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, forward Kris Joseph, and center Fab Melo – but look to plug in a couple of impressive underclassmen and make another run at a final Big East championship and perhaps a Final Four.

Jim Boeheim has been knocking on the door of his fourth Final Four over the last few years.  Will this young Syracuse squad be the one to break through? (AP)

Schedule

Syracuse doesn’t have too many marquee games on the non-conference slate. Their most intriguing match-up is their first game against San Diego State, which will be played on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego on Sunday afternoon. SU also travels to Arkansas for the SEC-Big East challenge, and will take on one of the teams filling the void they are leaving in the Big East – Temple – at Madison Square Garden. In the Big East schedule, Syracuse shares home-and-homes with Villanova, Providence, Louisville, and Georgetown. The Hoyas host the Orange in their last ever Big East game, which should be one for the ages.

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Big East Summer Capsules: Syracuse Orange

Posted by mlemaire on July 19th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Syracuse.

1. Now we know, this season will be the program’s last hurrah in the Big East.

Most knew this was coming, but now it is official. The Orange will bolt for the ACC in July 2013 after reaching an agreement with the Big East, and they will be taking one of the conference’s most storied basketball programs with it. I don’t care how you slice it; this is bad news for people who enjoy Big East basketball. The ‘Cuse was a perennially elite team, and no matter who the conference tries to woo to replace the Orange, they won’t be able to fill those shoes. There are a whole slew of rivalries that will be cast aside, and Jim Boeheim, one of the game’s all-time great talkers, will be taking his sarcastic wit to slightly warmer climates. The Orange are going to continue to be one’s of the game’s best programs on a yearly basis, but for those of us who grew up on John Wallace, Etan Thomas, and Gerry McNamara, the move is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

2. The coaching staff goes national.

For yet another summer, Jim Boeheim will be lending a hand to USA Basketball.

At this point everyone who cares knows that Jim Boeheim has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski on the Olympic team for some time now. But some may not have realized that assistant coach Mike Hopkins will also be coaching for the country, as he is the co-head coach of the National Select Team and both coaches have said they expect to learn a lot from the experience. Boeheim has also admitted that their absence puts a stress on recruiting, although he downplayed its impact. This will be the first year that Boeheim has coached for Team USA in July, which is usually the summer month when he does the most recruiting. Still, the Orange also haven’t exactly been on the downswing when it comes to signing talent in recent years, so Syracuse fans should probably take this as a positive.

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20 Questions: Can a Team of Freshmen Win a National Championship?

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 8th, 2011

Brian Joyce is an SEC microsite staffer and occasional contributor.

Question: Can a Team of Freshmen Win a National Championship?

It’s an easy question, so I have a simple answer. Yes, of course, a team of mostly one-and-done players can win the national title. That’s the beauty of college basketball, and more specifically the “lose and you’re out” nature of March Madness. Any team can win it all, as VCU and Butler proved this past year by advancing to the Final Four.

The question has been answered already on a number of occasions. Several teams with a nucleus of freshmen players have taken their teams to Final Fours and even come awfully close to winning a National Championship. The infamous Fab Five of the 1991-92  Michigan Wolverines were arguably the greatest recruiting class ever assembled. Despite their youth at a time when juniors and seniors dominated the college basketball landscape, the Fab Five overpowered opponents all the way to the national title game. It was there that Michigan met one of the best college basketball teams ever in the Duke Blue Devils, and simply didn’t have the focus and ability to play their level of basketball.

The Fab Five Were Arguably the Best Freshman Class Ever (AP)

A similar scenario occurred years later as the 2006-07 Ohio State Buckeyes put together a tremendous freshmen class led by Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr., that took the Buckeyes all the way to the final game. Ohio State ran into a team on a mission for its second consecutive title, as the young Buckeyes couldn’t handle Joakim Noah, Al Horford and the rest of the Florida Gators.

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30 Days of Madness: G-Mac Dominates Big East Tourney

Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next eight days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week.  Enjoy.

Championship Week

Dateline: 2006 Big East Tournament

Context: Coming into the Big East Tournament, senior Gerry McNamara’s Syracuse Orange (19-11, 7-9) were bubbling and trending toward the NIT with three straight losses.  Over the course of the next four nights, G-Mac electrified the Madison Square Garden crowd with consecutive nights of buzzer-beating threes against Cincinnati and #1 Connecticut (the first to win; the second to tie).  On the third night against Georgetown, his five second-half threes rallied the Orange to another win, and in the championship game he sealed Tournament MVP honors as SU became the first Big East team to win the title playing four games in four days.  Of particular interest is that McNamara had been voted the “most overrated” player in the Big East by two different publications.  Enjoy this montage, although, apologies in advance for the Pat Benatar…

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Team of the 2000s: #9 – Syracuse

Posted by rtmsf on August 10th, 2009

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Ed. Note: check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

And we’re back with the second installment of our Team of the 2000s feature.  Just to refresh the schedule we anticipate, we’ll be putting up #10-#6 this week, and #5-#1 next week.  Yesterday we picked Maryland as our tenth selection (over Gonzaga, Pitt, and several others) and we’re declaring today that the ninth best program of the 2000s is none other than the Syracuse Orange…  let the flames begin.

#9 – Syracuse

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Overview.  This selection will be one of our more controversial top 10 selections. How can a team miss the NCAA tournament 3 of the 10 years of the decade and still manage to sneak into the top 10 when perennial Sweet 16 teams get left on the outside looking in?  Simple. Win a national title. Ok. It’s a little more complex than that, but in my eyes to be an elite program you have to win a national title (or at least come agonizingly close as a subsequent team on this list has done). Are we overvaluing that “One Shining Moment?” Perhaps, but to even the most hardcore college basketball fans like ourselves the eras are defined by the champions not the near-misses (with potential exceptions like the Jameer Nelson St. Joseph’s team). In this case, the Carmelo Anthony/Hakim Warrick/Gerry McNamara team outweighs the 3 NIT bids – two of those years were controversial snubs and the other was a late-season nosedive the year before Carmelo showed up in upstate New York. Beyond that the Orangemen have made two Sweet 16 appearances to go along with two Big East Conference tournament titles (in years they flamed out in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament). Despite missing the NCAA tournament two of the last three years, the Orangemen have shown signs of a resurgence with last year’s Sweet 16 appearance that followed their epic 6-OT win against UConn in the Big East Tournament and the addition of what appears to be a strong recruiting class.

8360118  Syracuse v Memphis

Pinnacle.  As I noted before, the 2003 national title is the clear-cut choice here. Before Kevin Durant and Kevin Beasley, there was Carmelo Anthony. While Anthony may not have put up as spectacular numbers as the other two in his freshman season (and consequently didn’t win any national POYs from any major media sources – RTC didn’t exist at the time or he would have at least one award), he does have the one thing that neither of those two freshman picked up in their layovers in college: a national title. The 2003 Orangemen team will never be mentioned among the all-time great teams, but they rebounded from an opening-game loss to Memphis to finish a very respectable 30-5. Jim Boeheim started the same 5 for all 35 games: two freshmen (Anthony and McNamara), two sophomores (Warrick and Craig Forth), and one senior (Kueth Duany). Despite how history will remember this as “Melo’s team”, the Orangemen did feature three other double-digit scorers. In the NCAA tournament, Syracuse was only seriously challenged twice: once against a Marquis Daniels-led Auburn team staging a furious comeback in the Sweet 16 (a game I attended) and the championship game where Warrick blocked a potential game-tying 3 by Michael Lee in the waning seconds to give Boeheim his first and only national title to date.

Tailspin.  2008. After following up the 2003 title with a Sweet 16 trip (minus Melo), the Orangemen were upset in the 1st round in back-to-back years  (2004 and 2005) including infamously to the Taylor Coppenrath-led Vermont Catamounts. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Orangemen, right? Wrong. Try back-to-back Selection Sundays in 2007 and 2008 where Jim Boeheim’s crew was the proverbial “last team left out”. Following that 2008 season, there were several vocal critics in the upstate New York area who were calling for Boeheim’s head.

Outlook for 2010s:  Grade: B+. It’s amazing how quickly things have turned around for Boeheim. While the Orangemen lose a lot in the backcourt (Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf) along with Paul Harris and Kristof Ongenaut, they are absolutely loaded on the inside where they boast returnees Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson along with 4-star recruit DaShonte Riley and Iowa State transfer (and Big 12 All-Rookie selection) Wesley Johnson. That alone should be enough for the Orangemen to compete in a relative down year in the Big East with DeJuan Blair and Hasheem Thabeet no longer roaming the paint. Syracuse won’t contend for a national title next year, but their fans aren’t thinking about the 2010 Final Four. They are thinking about cutting down the nets in 2011 when they will be bringing a loaded freshman class to the NCAA tournament with Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, and C.J. Fair. While this class can’t match the one that John Calipari stole brought with him to Kentucky, it’s an impressive haul for Boeheim. The question is whether Boeheim can continue this kind of recruiting success after they start reading the weather forecast for Syracuse in the middle of winter (actually, that’s never hurt him before, his players can’t read… we kid, we kid)…

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.14.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2009

dynamiteWelcome back to the weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. First off I’d like to commend rtmsf for his strong work on yesterday’s BGtD. You guys really have no idea how exhausting it is doing a full day’s worth of this is and he managed to do it with only a short break although it almost caused me to give up working on the site after being forced to endure the American-Holy Cross game yesterday. As he outlined in his After the Buzzer post last night/this morning, there are 12 conference championship games today. For the sake of maintaining our sanity and having enough energy in the tank for our huge March Madness preview, we’ll be taking multiple shifts but we promise to coordinate it so you won’t miss anything during our handoffs.

6:00 AM: Yes. That’s actually the time I’m starting this thanks to a “short nap” that ended up going from 9 PM to 5 AM. Obviously my posts will be infrequent in the early morning hours, but I’ll be passing along some news and links to you before the games start at 11 AM. The New York Times has been stepping it up with their college sports blog “The Quad” recently and has an interesting post on Louisville‘s Terrence Williams and his pre-game ritual of the giving himself a pep talk during the national anthem. Before anybody thinks this might be a Chris Jackson Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf situation, it should be noted that Williams actually stands during the anthem and is supposedly talking about family members that he has lost and asking that everyone on the court avoids injuries. Of course, we can’t verify this, but if we have any lip-readers in our vast legion of RTC readers, we would love hear your take on this particularly if you have seen this is in person.

7:00 AM: Before I head out for a few minutes to take care of some errands like stocking up on groceries for the coming storm where I probably won’t leave my apartment for 3 weeks. I thought I would pass along one of my favorite things we are doing at RTC right now. We enlisted the help of our correspondents and got them to send us their favorite March memories. We narrowed down the submissions to the 16 best entries and are counting down to #1, which will be revealed on Wednesday (the day before the tournament starts). I’d encourage you to check out the entries we have so far and keep on coming back throughout the day to see what they selected as their favorite March memories and then chime in with your memories on those moments.

8:45 AM: Ok. False alarm on that grocery run. Apparently Costco doesn’t open until 9:30 so after this post I’ll be on a short break. So today’s RTC East breakfast is brought to you by Flour Bakery and consists of their Bobby Flay-slaying “Sticky Buns” and a twice-baked brioche. Here’s a quick run-down of the games (title game in red–there’s a lot of red) that I will be focusing on today:

Early Games

  • UMBC vs. Binghamton at 11 AM on ESPN2 for the America East title
  • Memphis vs. #3 Tulsa at 11:35 AM on CBS for the Conference USA title

Afternoon Games

  • Mississippi State vs. #16 LSU at 1 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • #6 Michigan State vs. Ohio State at 1:30 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals
  • #1 UNC vs. #22 FSU at 1:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • Tennessee vs. Auburn at 3 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • Maryland vs. #8 Duke at 3:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • #25 Illinois vs. #24 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals

Evening Games

  • #23 Arizona State vs. USC at 6 PM on CBS for the Pac-10 title
  • Baylor vs. #15 Missouri at 6 PM on ESPN for the Big 12 title
  • Temple vs. Duquesne at 6 PM on ESPN2 for the Atlantic 10 title

Late Night Games

  • San Diego State vs. Utah at 7 PM on Versus for the Moutain West title
  • Morgan State vs. Norfolk State at 7 PM on ESPNU for the MEAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Buffalo vs. Akron at 8 PM on ESPN2 for the MAC title
  • #5 Louisville vs. #20 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN for the Big East title
  • Jackson State vs. Alabama State at 9 PM on ESPNU for the SWAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Utah State vs. Nevada at 10 PM on ESPN2 for the WAC title
  • Cal State-Northridge vs. Pacific at 11:59 PM on ESPN2 for the Big West title (This one is questionable)

10:55 AM: Ok. I’m back from my extended Costco run and have enough food to last me through the week. A quick summary on the early games. In the America East, Binghamton is a 5-6 point favorite (depending on your gambling establishment of choice). Honestly, I’m surprised that they aren’t bigger favorites since they come in at 22-8 while UMBC comes in 15-16 and the game is at Binghamton. It could be interesting though as they split the season series in the regular season with Binghamton winning the last game of the regular season at home against UMBC 71-51. I’m guessing the America East commissioner is rooting for UMBC to avoid the embarrassment of the CBS announcers having to explain why the conference’s regular season leading scorer (D.J Rivera) was left off the all-conference team. In Conference USA, Memphis is a 14-point favorite against Tulsa. Memphis might be playing for a #1 seed even with their ridiculously easy schedule. We’re hoping this game is more like the first time they met (a 55-54 Memphis win) rather the last time they met (a 63-37 Memphis win). I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be more like the latter, but we’ll be following it anyways to get a last look at Memphis before CBS’s new Billy Packer rips the NCAA selection committee for putting them over a Big East team.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #7: Two Shades of Orange(men)

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

memories

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

We got two excellent submissions involving Syracuse, so we decided to throw both of them up in this memory (yeah, it’s cheating… take it up with our compliance dept.).

Syracuse, Finally (submitted by The Kiff)

Growing up in suburban Albany, NY, I have been a Syracuse basketball fan all of my life. Until 2003, that meant a life of never having had “my team” win the NCAA tournament – although it has meant heartbreak (see, e.g., 1987, 1996). That made 2003 all the more sweet. That year was my last year of law school in Virginia. My roommate and I decided on a whim that we would go to Vegas for the first week of the tournament – not an original idea, but still a great one. We got a flight on Southwest and a room at some crack den that has since been torn down called Bourbon Street. All I can say in justification is that we were poor students and that it was a 3-minute walk to Caesars Palace – and we weren’t killed. We got to Caesar’s Palace early Thursday morning, finding slot machines to sit at where we could watch the games, and just absorbing everything around us. While half of the screens in front of us were showing bombs of a different type in Iraq, we were largely focused on the upcoming games (and nervously wondering if there were going to be any).  I remember my buddy telling me that I could get 40-1 on Syracuse winning it all. I laughed and told him he was crazy – Cuse never wins it all, they just make you think they can. Damn it.

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On Friday, we found ourselves actually sitting next to a couple of big Cuse fans, which was perfect. All I remember about the first game against Manhattan is that they won – not convincingly, but they won. I also remember that my hands hurt like a bitch from all of the high-fiving, and that I could barely talk from all of the yelling. On Sunday afternoon the good seats in Caesars opened up, and we were sitting pretty right in front. Unfortunately, the game started out rough – Cuse went down big early on (a Google search shows me they went down 17 points – jesus!). My buddy and I were going insane that they might lose in the second round with that lineup (McNamara, Anthony, Warrick, Edelin) – although I remember being less stressed than this kid sitting in front of us who we were pretty sure had bet his entire college tuition on the game. In the Final Four game against Texas, my memory is that Carmelo Anthony scored about 95 points and Gerry McNamara was hitting 3-pointers from half court. And this.  That may be the result of a faulty memory, but they definitely dominated. Finally, Syracuse was back in the Finals – they would be a major part of “One Shining Moment” – hopefully the best part.

This next part is a little embarrassing. Saturday night after the Final Four game, I had to go to an incoming-student event at the local pub. I spent the night drunk, chanting “Let’s Go Orange, Let’s Go!” (add clapping here) to anyone who would or would not listen. Now, I didn’t know my wife at that point, but when I later met her, and subsequently her friends, they knew me as the pathetically drunk dumbass in the [bar name redacted to protect the innocent] who had been screaming about “the Orange” all night. Alas, if they only knew how big it was to get into the Finals again. I couldn’t stand to watch the final game in a bar, so a buddy from school who is from the Syracuse area and is a bigger Cuse fan than me came over to my apartment and watched it with me. Needless to say, Hakim Warrick is a god to us. I have (almost) forgotten his missed free throws that almost killed us because the subsequent image of his diving block of the 3-pointer with no time on the clock is burned into my retinas. I have never been so happy watching a sporting event – except maybe the 1986 World Series, but I was too young to appreciate that one. If the Bills ever win a Super Bowl, I’ll have to revisit that statement, but for now, the 2003 Tournament, with my first trip to Vegas, the amazing games and Syracuse’s first Tourney win, will never be forgotten (note: the below video isn’t me, but it could have been).

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The other memory involving the Orangemen didn’t quite go the same way…

Sorrentine… From the Parking Lot (submitted by Michael Hurley)

There is nothing greater in sports than March Madness. It does what high school basketball no longer accomplishes. Except for in Kentucky and Delaware, high school basketball breaks their state tournaments down into classes by size. The NCAA tournament pits the big schools against the small schools. Every team needs to win six games straight. It is the same concept regardless of the size of school. Yes, there is seeding which makes it easier for the bigger and higher seeded schools, but the fundamentals are still the same. This is what enables teams along the way to write their own story and provide memorable moments in single games.

It’s the 2005 NCAA tournament. Syracuse was 27-6 and a four seed going up against Vermont, a thirteen seed. The Big East had six teams qualify for the tournament while Vermont was America East’s only representative. Syracuse had just won the national championship only two years before and Vermont had never won an NCAA tournament game. It had all of the makings of a David vs. Goliath. Vermont played Syracuse tough though, holding them to 23 first half points and was only down four. The Catamounts started to believe and came out in the second half and sent the game into overtime.

In overtime the Catamounts found themselves down two points with just under two minutes remaining when Germain Mopa Njila, who had been playing the best game of his career, hit a three to give Vermont the lead. The next play down the court for Vermont T.J Sorrentine hits the shot I will always remember. Sorrentine runs the clock down before tossing up a three-pointer from what it seemed like, halfcourt. The television camera catches coach Tom Brennan’s reaction to the shot and it is priceless. Brennan, who had announced at the beginning of the year he was going to retire after nineteen years at Vermont, is jumping for joy. Even though Vermont got knocked out their very next game, their victory over Syracuse will always reside in my memory when it comes to slaying the giant. T.J Sorrentine’s shot truly is the sweetest moment I can remember from the NCAA tournament.

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
- All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
- While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
- While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
- The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
- It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
- Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
- This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
- The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
- Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
- This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
- This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
- Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
- This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
- Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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