After another weekend of scintillating and shocking NCAA Tournament results, it’s time to check back in with our various correspondents who were in Anaheim, San Antonio, New Orleans and Newark reporting on the games this weekend.
Location: San Antonio, TX
Round: Regional Final
Teams: VCU, Kansas
Date: 27 March 2011
To read all the diaries throughout the NCAA Tournament, click here.
- This is the second time in this Tournament that I’ve personally witnessed this happen (Gonzaga vs. St. John’s being the other). Kansas’ strategy from the opening tip was to get the ball inside early and often to their big men, Marcus and Markieff Morris. It worked in the beginning as the twins got KU off to a 6-2 start, but VCU started to figure out the entry passes, and before long the Kansas guards were trying to throw the ball into a quadruple-team underneath. The perimeter players weren’t looking to score at all, and I sometimes wonder if a focused strategy to take advantage of a strength (as here) actually backfires in the sense that the perimeter players don’t have an opportunity to play offensively. In the Richmond game, as a contrasting example, the KU perimeter players got going early and UR as a result was out of the game by the second television timeout.
- I love Shaka Smart for many reasons, not least of which is his bulldog mentality of taking on all comers, but watching him get down into a defensive crouch on the sidelines as his players guard the ball on that side of the floor is phenomenal. He moves his feet very well for his advanced age of all of 33 years old. With Brad Stevens Lambeau Leap into the team circle after beating #1 Pitt last week, and Smart acting as a sixth defender for the Rams, youth in the coaching ranks is most definitely served.
- Whew, Markieff Morris (eight turnovers) and Tyrel Reed (1-9 FGs) would like to have this game back. Through the first twelve minutes of action, Markieff had already turned the ball over six times to VCU, including a ridiculous Ewing-step-through travel that he damn well knows better than to do in the college game. Reed suffered a miserable game, and he never looked less comfortable than when Kansas was in desperate need of someone — anyone — to hit some threes down the stretch, but he was badly off on all of them. It was pretty clear to me from my vantage point that both of these guys were feeling the pressure of expectations, and they were generally crushed by it.
- I liked Self’s decision to try to get Josh Selby into the game early to combat the scoring woes of his team on the perimeter. Other than Selby, none of the KU guards are elite talents capable of scoring on demand. It didn’t work out today, as Selby went 1-5 for two points and clearly wasn’t feeling it, but it was still worth the gamble. He couldn’t have done much worse than the pair of Reed and Brady Morningstar (2-16 FGs).
Speaking of Selby, has any freshman in America been a bigger disappointment this season? Hailed as the possible missing piece to a dominant KU team, he looked good in December before tailing off completely the rest of the way to become nearly a late-season afterthought. It’s not very often that high school players good enough to rate #1 in the nation by at least one scouting service will suffer such a weird diminishment of his playing time and influence. Yet, had he been akin to a John Wall or even a Brandon Knight, Kansas might still be playing. The perimeter absolutely killed the Jayhawks today.