UNCG’s Trevis Simpson not returning for senior year

UNCG’s 7th all time scorer, Trevis Simpson, is foregoing his senior year to pursue a professional basketball career.

He feels it is the right thing to do for his family and will continue to work on his kinesiology degree.

The Spartans will miss his scoring power.  He has lead the SoCon in scoring and scored 41 in one game alone against Chattanooga.

All is not lost, UNCG is returning starters Parker, Locke, and Williams.  Potts, on the point, and Paulos from 3-range will be fun to watch.  Arizona State transfer, Kyle Cain, who had to sit last year out will be ready to take the court as well as the incoming First Year class, including Tevon Saddler and Tyrone Outlaw.

It’s March, but I’m almost ready for October!


The Basketball world has become more predictable

We still have time for some upsets tonight, but yesterday not much happened that was super surprising.

Yes, Michigan upset Kansas in overtime.  It was a great last shot to send them into extra minutes and I was rooting for Big Blue to knock off #1 Kansas.  But it was not a huge surprise that they won. Both are good teams, from power conferences….

As for the rest, Louisville beat Oregon…man, I was going for those Ducks…to be the last #1 standing.

Dook out defended the Spartans.  Defense is what won the devils that game (I know Curry shot 29 points, blah, blah, blah), but without their defensive game  Michigan State’s played good enough on the offensive end to win.

Saddest of all was that Florida beat FGCU ending their Cinderella run.  The beginning of the first half, the Eagles went on a 8-0 run and maintained a double digit lead.  However, with some substitutions and a little practice Billy Donovan figured out what his Gators needed to do to dominate the court.  The first half ended with a 16-2 run for Florida, then Florida started the second with a 5-0 run.  That was a blow that FGCU couldn’t overcome.  This team played great ball, works fantastically as a team, and has more than done their job for the season.  It will be interesting to see: 1) how much easier it will be to recuit to FGCU and 2) How much general interest and enrollment spikes for this young school!

At this point, I am ABD (Anybody but Duke…and Louisville can lose too!)


Quintuple Double

No one that plays NBA or NCAA ball has ever made a quintuple double (achieving double digits in all areas: points, rebounds, assists, stals, and blocks).  But it has happened in women’s high school ball.

highschoolbball

 

 

The first player noted to have done this feat is Tamika Catchings, while a player at Ducanville High School.  She went on to a carrer with the Lady Vols and now plays for the WNBA  Indiana Fever.  Tamika is the 9th person to have won a NCAA championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a WNBA championship.  She has refereed Baraka Obama in a 3 on 3 game, and is the 2012 WNBA Players Association president.  She has a foundation called Catch the Stars (I see what you did there) that helps youth achieve their dreams by goal setting, literacy, fitness, and mentoring.  Oh yeah, she was born with a hearing disability.

So what have you done today?


Why Miami should be NCAA National Champions

My bracket has long been busted and I am now on the over-crowded FGCU train, but don’t count the Hurricanes out of the running.  I am excited to see Duke fall, could care less about Indiana (the Zeller name should be on a Carolina uniform), and Louisville exists only to be hated.

Based on that ultra informed, unbiased report, this is the scientific reason Miami should be National Champs:

If that is not a compelling reason, I don’t know what it.


Heels Fall, Eagles Soar

The ups and downs of basketball in March is what makes it madness.

The only real surprise of the day was the stunning win of Florida Gulf Coast over San Diego State.  It marks the first time a #15 has made it to the Sweet Sixten.  This is a building commentary on the increasing parity of college basketball, but for now let’s celebrate with the Eagles.  They play great, fast, athletic ball with little fear and lots of flair.  They have only been D1 for six years, but that might be working to their advantage.  Even with the win over Miami and taking Duke into overtime, the bar was set low for this newcomer team.  They have put their heads down and went to work….which I must say would be very hard to do without passion for your sport if this is your campus in Ft Myers, Florida:

 

FGCU

 

I went to UNCW and it was hard enough to concentrate with the beach 10 minutes away, but right outside the door would be a beast.  My advice to the Eagles is celebrate tonight, but by tomorrow be on the court for practice like you still have everything to prove.

The Heels ended their postseason run will a loss to the the KU Jayhawks (I am still baffled by Rock Chalk).  Since Roy came home to UNC, he is 0-3 against his old team.  There were flashed of brilliance in the light blue tonight, but the experience of Kansas was too much to hold back.  They are young and this is a rebuilding year.  I sincerely hope that McAdoo and Bullock stay put and out of the draft.  With the maturing of Page (some time with Ty Lawson would not go amiss), Johnson, James, and Tokoto, the Heels will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

Without much surprise, Florida beat Minnesota; Indiana won against Temple; OSU bested Iowa State; and I am happy to report that #13 LaSalle just pulled out a win against #12 Ole Miss.

Basketball that starts at 10pmish on a Sunday evening is hard to watch- currently Illinois and Miami are just separated by a point half way through the second half.  Go Miami!  I would be excited to see the Hurricanes as National Champs!

It is almost half time of the Creighton dook game.  I am cheering for the Jaybirds.  It is time for the devils to be back in durham where they belong.


Is your bracket busted?

Another 12 hours of basketball continues to make writing for my dissertation so hard!

Today was a great day of bracket busting basketball. How did your bracket fair?

I was most excited for the VCU-Michigan game.  I had VCU winning this round.  Shaka Smart has a great team, does mad training with the Navy Seals, but Michigan just got ahead of the Rams today and they could not recover.  I also had Butler beating Marquette.  Butler is a team I have had my eye on since the fall. Remember that win against the Heels in Maui and the buzzer beater to beat Marquette.

 

Perhaps as expected, MSU beat Memphis.  Louisville won against CSU and Arizona bested Harvard.  Oregon (insert duck quack here…I always hear a quack in my head when talking about Oregon) upset St. Louis and Syracuse outlasted Cal.

The game of the evening was the dethroning of the first #1 seed, Gonzaga.  Wichita State came to win and they were fierce the entire game.  They played with confidence and refused to back down to the bigger, stronger Zags.  The Shockers of Wichita State sure lived up to their name tonight.  It was almost as if the Bulldogs did not learn from their first round scare by Southern and underestimated the fire that burned in the bellies of the #9 seed.  This was not a great scoring game.  Wichita State made 50% of their field goals and Gonzaga only 35%. A free throw contest ended what had been a physical game of basketball.  Of course making more of your shots from the line could have changed the outcome of this game.  The Shockers went 12-18 for 66% and the Bulldogs were only slightly higher at 20-29 or 69%.  When 6 points decide a game, missing 9 of your foul shots is a big deal.  But that is spilled milk at this point, tomorrow (really today at this point) is another day filled with basketball.  I need to get my feel because it will be a long time until October when March Madness is over!


March Madness, Day Two

Ohhhh, a day ful of basketball is always a good day!  I am trying to get my dissertation material in order, but I keep getting distracted by basketball.

Three out of four NC schools made it through today.  Duke beat Albany…blah, blah…I was rooting for Albany.  Miami gave a master class to Pacific.  It was a hard pounding, but Pacific actually did pretty well.

UNC, per usual, blew a 19 point lead by playing down to the level of their opponents managing to win by 7.  I love the Heels.  I love to watch them play, but when another teams wants to set the basketball level low UNC obliges by playing at that level.  During the middle part of the game, they let Nova set the pace and it was not in their favor.  In the second half, Roy did pull all five of his starters for a heart to heart.  This is a tactic that has been used to portray that he means business (like in 2008 vs BC….that even made it into the 2009 video for Late Night with Roy).  When he put his starting five back in this evening they perked up and pulled this game back on track.  Heels, get a good night’s sleep…it may not be that easy on Sunday.

NCSU fell to Temple.  The play was up and down and there were times that it felt like the Pack were not in it to win it.  They seemed distracted.  The Owls were able to shut Wood down and the rest of the team could not pick up his scoring slack.  This ends the Wolfpack’s run on the 30th anniversary of their National Championship.  They are loosing some great players, but will come back strong next season.

Other upsets of the day came when LaSalle beat K-State and Ole Miss sent Wisconsin packing.  That is what this round is all about!  Many times the seeds predict who will win, until they don’t.  Then you have good basketball and players wanting the season not to end.  I was surprised by the Badger loss, I was expecting a Wisconsin/OSU showdown (I had OSU on top).

The most fun game of the day to watch was #2 Georgetown’s stunning loss to #15 FGCU. It is hard to predict when a #15 will upend a #2 , but today marks the 7th time it has happened.  FGCU was the first team into the Big Dance this year, their conference was won on March 9th, and I said from the beginning I was rooting for this team.  After only 6 years as a D1 school, they beat Miami at the beginning of the season and took Duke into overtime.  This team is fast and athletic.  People may not have taken them as seriously as their statistics might have suggested, but they are ready to play and have no fear on the court.  They are dunking machines!  Both #20 and #23 put on amazing shows tonight.  Both dunks deserve to be in the nightly top ten as they were playing in FGCU Dunk City today Ba-aby (I imagine you will say that last line in Dickie V’s voice)!

Tomorrow will bring more good ball.  I am particularly ready for the VCU-Michigan match up.


Kentucky falls in NIT first round

March Madness is starting great!

It is no secret that I have no love lost for Duke University, but beyond that my mom taught me most teams that play basketball wearing dark blue uniforms are evil.  The top of that list: Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas.  If you need some idea of how this works, I recommend To Hate Like this is to Love Forever,

I was insanely happy to open MSNBC’s sports section and read,  Top-seeded Kentucky upset by Robert Morris, out of the NIT.  Perhaps there was even a giggle when I rushed to post this on Facebook.  I was taught, in church, to love others and do good- until basketball season when I cheer like crazy for missed foul shots (that should not be missed even if I am cheering against you), find pleasure in theatrical blocked shots,  and love to see the underdog embarrass the champion.  This is the second time ever that a NCAA National Champion missed the tournament the year after they won it.  Yes, the first was Carolina in 2010 after they were 2009 National Champs.  We took a deep breath and got through it.  Kentucky will too, but  it feels great today!

Last month, Calipari said this Wildcat team was the hardest he has ever had to coach and some players were even “uncoachable.”  That is a harsh assessment from an experienced basketball coach.  There is the argument of youth from this team.  Of course, last year’s team started a freshman (Davis), two sophomores (Jones and Lamb), so does experience come with age or time on the floor (and talent)?  I think this uncoachable outburst is a reflection of the one and done mentality that Calipari seems to be recruiting to UK.  Of course you get flashed of brilliance that win you the tournament, but you also get players that know they are good and would be going for the NBA if there was not the “one year out of high school and at least 19” rule.  I think that is more a reflection of the NBA and how college often gets used as their farm teams (in another post I may explore the difference with baseball’s system).  I can’t blame the young men for seeing their Freshman Year in college as just a stumpling block….a better question might be to ask how to change the system that works better for the institutions (NBA, ESPN, conferences, and colleges) than the individual players within them.  UK has three first year player that will probably go in the NBA first round (Noel, Poythress, and Goodwin) and they have a good recruiting class lining up, but some of these ideas are work exploring because I would rather see teams grow and learn.  I would like players to stay for four years , earn a degree, and perfect mature college basketball.

That being said, Kentucky is out for the season.  One dark blue team down and more to come!


It’s Dancing Time!

While the best time of the (basketball) year is the day before the first UNC-dook game, but the middle of March is a close second.  We are watching the play-in games tonight.  The Aggies just won!  After missing the big dance nine times, they are going to face #1 Louisville in the first round.

As much as I like…well maybe love…watching college basketball, there are some things about the post-season that really don’t compute.  Miami got a #2 seed, the same as Duke.  It is the first time that an ACC team has both won the regular season and the conference tournament and did not get a #1 seed.  Duke had a mediocre season, got kicked out of the ACC tournament in the quarterfinals and still got a #2 seed.  It is not secret that I love to hate Duke, but this is ridiculous   Of course, the whole seeding process is a sham and leans towards the side of money, but there are some things that I think should be held as true:

1. If a team wins their conference, they should be in the tournament.  Not a play-in game, but in the tournament proper.

2.If a team wins their conference, they should be seeded higher than anyone that is invited into the tournament.  That may seem like sacrilege  but as my daddy says, “the cream will rise to the top.”  Yes, some teams have the option to play harder schedules  some teams have a national name recognition, and the resources that go along with that.  However, if a team wins their conference  they have worked hard, played a lot of ball, and done enough for a high seed. Period. End of story.  We will still have good post season play.  March Madness will still keep us interested and excited, but the teams that have earned the recognition will have the seed the deserve.

Of course, post season ball is fun and joy!  The best moments are watching upsets and people’s dreams come true…like last March when #15 Lehigh beat #2 Duke in Greensboro.  While I did not have tickets to that game, I was at the next one.  When the Lehigh team walked into the arena, they got a screaming, volcanic cheer from people wearing light blue!  Maybe it was more a cheer against Duke, but it was great!  There was a long Carolina blue line to get some Lehigh autographs and have their picture made with the Mountain Hawk.  This year I say, “Go Albany!” This is what March Madness is all about!

 


Senior Night at the Dean Dome

Senior night at the Dean Dome is always a big deal for the players.

Who can forget Hansbrough bleeding from the nose or Montross bleeding from the head?

And every other year the final home game of the season is against dook.

No matter what has gone on during the swirling vortex that is the rest of the college basketball season (and what a season this has been- Gonzaga at #1 and it seems that anytime a big time contender has held the spot they have been knocked off week after week), this game is the apex of the moment.  This season, the Heels dropped the first one, on the foul line, to the devils, but in the spirit of the greatest basketball rivalry in college ball every time these two meet there is a fresh, raw need to win in the air.  When both teams are at the top or when they are recovering from a misstep, it doesn’t matter.  The UNC-Duke game is the place where giants come to play and where basketball magic happens.

I know what I am going to be doing at 9pm.  What about you?

In SoCon Conference action, congratulations to both the women’s and men’s teams for upsetting higher ranked opponents and going to the next round.  Let’s go for those championships so we can play ball in the big dance!