NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.30.11Posted by Brian Goodman on March 30th, 2011
Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.
- An interesting read about whether head coach Brad Stevens and VCU head coach Shaka Smart should stay at their respective schools or leave for a more lucrative offer. We believe that they both should stay put and continue to build on the runs their teams have gone on this season.
- Following his squad’s loss to Youngstown State on February 3, Brad Stevens received encouragement from many different people around the country. His favorite piece of encouragement came from his college coach at DePauw, Bill Fenlon.
- After missing their son’s games last weekend in New Orleans, Matt Howard‘s parents will be attending the Final Four in Houston. This was made possible by the people of their hometown, Connersville, Indiana, who graciously pitched in to help pay for the trip.
- Guard Shelvin Mack has a knack for making big plays in big games. This bodes well for the Bulldogs, as Saturday will be their biggest game of the year.
- Senior captain Zach Hahn took charge when things were not going well for the Bulldogs early in the conference season. Since then, Hahn’s leadership has led Butler both on and off the court.
- Jim Calhoun warns that the shine will eventually wear off of prodigious coaches like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens. One element both coaches will have to consider in potential moves to higher-profile schools down the line is whether they want to take on the balance of increased scrutiny and higher expectations.
- The Huskies returned to campus for a couple days to recharge their batteries, but passers-by on campus are still as excited as they were on Saturday. The team arrives in Houston Wednesday night, and its rock star status can’t go to the players’ heads if they want to succeed.
- Patrick Sellers, a former UConn assistant, left the staff in the wake of the NCAA’s investigation of the program last May. Now coaching in China, Sellers remains pumped for his former employer, and, cleared by the NCAA, can seek work at the Division-I level if he wishes.
- Calhoun believes there are no great teams in college basketball this season, with which we agree, but gives a reason with which we disagree. Calhoun insists that the transience of college basketball’s top players hurts the game, but without those players, even if they only stay one season, the game would be far less interesting.
- It’s probably unfair that Kentucky head coach John Calipari has a reputation for being just a recruiter, but since he’s been able to turn a glut of freshmen into a successful, cohesive team, Calipari must be looked at as much more than that.
- Chicago Bulls standout point guard Derrick Rose played for Calipari at Memphis. While Rose acknowledges that playing for Calipari was not the easiest thing, he does note how effective his coaching is. Rose will be pulling for his old coach at Kentucky this weekend.
- Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins is pleased that he gets a rematch with Connecticut‘s Kemba Walker. Walker torched Liggins and the Wildcats for 29 points in the finals of the Maui Invitational back in late November.
- New Jersey Nets part-owner Jay-Z visited the Kentucky locker room after the Wildcats’ Elite Eight victory over North Carolina. The NBA is investigating the actions of Jay-Z, as he may have violated the contact regulations between ownership and amateur basketball talent.
- While he is permanently ineligible from ever playing at Kentucky, Enes Kanter has received some praise for his contributions in practice. Kanter’s presence has undoubtedly helped Josh Harrellson, who has developed into a very reliable big man.
- Real life was inserted back into Shaka Smart’s life in an unfortunate manner, as his grandfather passed away in a Chicago suburb at the age of 91. Smart and his grandfather, Walter King, shared a close bond and King held a male influence that was missing from his upbringing by Smart’s mother. RTC’s thoughts and prayers are with Shaka and his family.
- A few Las Vegas sportsbook operators shudder at the thought of the Rams winning two games in Houston. According to Bloomberg News, one bettor placed $10 on VCU to win the national title with 5,000 to 1 odds. In the long run, the $50,000 hypothetical prize is only a small hit to any Vegas sportsbook, but it’s an impressive one nonetheless.
- Earlier this week, we talked about Jamie Skeen‘s decision to transfer from Wake Forest to VCU paying off, but perhaps the most impactful move may have been the one that didn’t happen. Point guard Joey Rodriguez went as far as announcing a transfer to Division-II Rollins College near his home in Florida after former Rams coach Anthony Grant took over at Alabama, but his teammates, along with Smart, convinced him to stay in Richmond.
- The incomparable Stewart Mandel puts forth a theory that schools like VCU should cash in and, instead of moving up to a power conference, create their own league of competitive programs to strike a blow to the “mid-major” stigma that holds them back on the recruiting trail and in the fight to keep coaching prospects on its sidelines.
- A fascinating report reveals how interest in VCU has skyrocketed as reflected by alumni giving, free media exposure valued at $677 million (about one year’s worth of the NCAA’s Tournament broadcasting agreement with CBS and Turner) and research interests.