Either way, here is my “20 Random Thoughts,” piece. For those of you who don’t read me often, this isn’t just about who won and lost this week, you can read that anywhere.
Instead, this is more. It’s the good and the bad, the pretty and ugly, the bad hairdos and goofy announcer gaffes. And you will enjoy.
Also, be sure to check back, as I’m giving you wall-to-wall coverage on everything going in the 2010 NCAA Tournament all week long, including Tuesday when I teach you “How to Win You Office Pool,” and Wednesday when I reveal my picks (I know, this is mark your calendars stuff, right?). And if you’re free this evening, I’ll be over at HoopsAddict.com, taking part in a live chat with their editor Ryan McNeill at 5:30 p.m. EST, leading up to the announcement of the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Come join me.
But first, let’s get to the 20 Thoughts… Enjoy!
1. First Things First:
I thought Sean McDonough nailed it in last night’s Big East Championship game, when he said, “Can we put to rest this myth that these conference tournaments don’t mean anything.”
Umm, yes, we can. Thank you Sean.
I watched more Championship Week coverage this week than ever before, and I can honestly say that the idea that conference tournaments don’t matter to the big boys is a joke. Like Bud Selig’s hair. Only worse.
If you don’t believe me, just watch a replay of last night’s Big East game, with Chris Wright diving into press row for loose balls. Or John Wall yelling at his teammates, urging them on against Tennessee. Or St. Mary’s celebrating like they’d just returned from war after beating Gonzaga last Monday.
These things matter. Believe me.
2. Secondly, Not Only Was D’Sean Butler the MVP of the Big East Tournament, But He Was the MVP of the entire Championship Week 2010 As Well:
I’ve watched a lot of these tournaments over the years, and rarely remember a player going from relative unknown to national sensation the way Butler did this week. Honestly, his play in the Big East Tournament was so good I feel like the U.S. Government should put his face on a stamp or something. At the very least somebody needs to build that guy a statue.
More importantly, I’ve never seen one player change my personal perception of a team in such a short time either.
Five days ago, I thought West Virginia was good, but saw them more like a Sweet 16 team. Especially when you consider their lack of a top-flight point guard, their woeful foul shooting and Bob Huggins spotty NCAA Tournament track record (Which is similar to my driving record. Needless to say, it's not very good).
Now? Let’s just say I won’t be betting against Butler and the Mountaineers any time soon.
3. From A Public Perception Standpoint, This Weekend’s Winner Was Greg Monroe:
A week ago, everyone saw Monroe as an uber-talented, soulless big man, who floated through games with as much excitement as Barry Bonds has when the FBI calls asking for a urine sample. I’m not saying it’s fair, that was just the perception on the guy.
Now all of a sudden, it’s like the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with Monroe’s heart growing two sizes over the course of the Big East Tournament. He took the important shots, proved to be the best passing big man of his generation and willed Georgetown into that epic Big East final Saturday night. To use a term from his adopted home of Washington D.C. “His approval rating is through the roof.”
In the process, I have to imagine Monroe made himself quite a bit of money in the eyes of all the NBA scouts lurking around Madison Square Garden this week. A month ago, I saw him somewhere in the 15-20 range in most Mock Drafts. Now, there might not be a single big man you could take ahead of him.
4. One Final Thought on Georgetown and the Big East Tournament:
I was at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, and saw Georgetown smoke South Florida. And the one thing I took away from that game above all others, is that until you see the Hoyas in person, you can’t appreciate how long they are.
Their whole front court- Monroe, Julian Vaughn, Hollis Thompson, Jason Clark- is all arms and legs. The best comparison I can make is the one I used in my “Live Blogging,” article from Thursday, when I compared them to a young, skinny puppy that runs around with limbs flying everywhere, that hasn’t quite grown into its body yet.
Either way, it’s the length which is what is going to make this team so dangerous come tournament time. On defense. In their ability to pass over the opposing defenses. Everything really.
We’ll see who they end up playing these next few weeks, but as far as I’m concerned, these guys can beat just about anyone.
5. Ok, I lied. One more thing about Georgetown:
Sorry, I’m on a big Georgetown kick right now. What can I say, I’ve watched them four days in a row, I’m feeling a little attached.
Here’s my question: Doesn’t John Thompson III (Or JTIII as the kids and ladies call him), seem like the kind of coach you’d want to play for?
I saw him in person on Wednesday, and even more on TV this weekend and loved his demeanor. He’s calm when he needs to be, yells when it’s warranted, urgent when urgency is required, and doles out a good ass slap every now and then too.
Most importantly, he’s got that fatherly vibe that his own dad, John Thompson was famous for. And he’s got his player’s respect, which is the most important thing of all.
6. A Few Thoughts From the ACC Tournament:
Starting with Duke. Is it time to be worried yet?
I mean look, I’ve been a supporter of them all season long, but isn’t the way they struggled to put away Virginia and Miami these last couple days (I mean come on, Virginia and MIAMI!!!!), at least a little bit alarming?
Also, these last two days have highlighted Duke’s biggest vulnerability this season: They’re just not that good away from home. Sorry, but it’s true. Look at their schedule.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally get the losses at Wisconsin, Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Maryland. Completely understandable. But a 66-63 win at Boston College? A loss at NC State? The first two games of this conference tournament? Come on.
To Coach K’s boys, the truth is simple: Cameron Indoor is closed for the rest of 2010. If this team doesn’t get their act together, their season will be over soon too.
7. One Positive On Duke:
All year I’ve heard the jive on Kyle Singler: He’s playing out of position. He’s just not as good as last year. He looks like a Martian. Everything.
But here’s my question for you folks: He’s been one of the 10 best players in the country in the last two months, so why no love for the guy now? Seriously, look at the stats:
- He’s scored double-figures in 18 straight games, including every single one in ACC play.
- He’s hit two or more 3-pointers in 13 of those games.
- Most importantly, Duke is 15-3 during that stretch.
Find me five better players since the beginning of the New Year. Seriously, go ahead. I dare you.
8. One Final Thought From the ACC Tournament:
Down in the SEC, we always hear jokes about Bruce Pearl’s Orange Blazer (No, no Bruce, we’re laughing with you not at you. I swear). But why doesn’t anyone ever talk about NC State coach Sidney Lowe’s cherry red blazer?
Also, since Lowe has gotten to NC State, their program has gone from good, to decent, to bad, to unwatchable, to “Call 911, the place is burning to the ground,” all in a span of in four years. They’ve never finished better than 10th in ACC regular season during that time.
Umm, hey coach, question for ya. Think it might be time for a wardrobe change?
9. My First Thought on the Big 10 Tournament Was This:
So Friday afternoon I turned on the Ohio State-Michigan game, and was shocked at how little scarlet and grey there was in the stands for tip-off in Indianapolis. I mean after all, this is The Ohio State University. The same school that brings 25,000 fans to every bowl game, whether they’re playing for a National Championship in Miami, or for just an ugly trophy and pride in Boise.
Then I thought about it for a second, and wondered how the hell the Big 10 Tournament ended up in Indianapolis to begin with. Would I want to go to Indy in March? Would you?
Think about it. The Big East plays their tournament at Madison Square Garden, and the Pac-10 at the Staples Center. Can you say, cool and cooler? The ACC’s tournament is in Greensboro, not the easiest outpost to get to, but the whole thing belongs on Tobacco Road. The Big XII has Kansas City, which doesn’t make total sense, but at least they have good barbeque. The West Coast Conference wised up, moved their tournament off-campus and put it in Vegas. The same with the Atlantic 10 in Atlantic City. But Indianapolis? For one of the biggest conferences in college basketball? Really?
After much debate, I’ve come up with three reasons, and three reasons only why you should ever be in Indianapolis in March:
1. You’re taking part in the NFL Combine.
2. Peyton Manning invited you over to watch film and eat Oreo’s.
3. The Final Four is in town, and your team is playing.
So to the Big 10, do everyone a favor and move this thing to Chicago. Or Madison. Just no more Indy. Ok?
10. Quickly, Let’s Talk About The Evan Turner Shot:
I know it’s old news by now…But wow! Not much makes me jump out of my seat like a kid anymore, but watching it live, this was an exception. Just a great player, making a great play. Period.
But with all that, I’ve got to ask, where was the defense? No ball pressure at all, really? When there were three seconds left? Come on Michigan, you’re better than that.
Again, was it a great play? Absolutely. But one that could have been avoided? Most likely.
11. Onto My Thoughts On the SEC:
My thoughts will be brief here. Why, you ask? Because Kentucky beat Tennessee by almost 30 yesterday, what could I possibly say that you don’t already know?
Basically, it comes down to this, if Kentucky plays in the tournament like they did against the Vols on Saturday, Kansas is the only team that can beat them. Period.
12. By the Way, Did Anyone See the Pair of Kentucky Fans in the Stands Wearing Snuggies The Other Night?:
Honestly, it was weird. Like really weird. As a matter of fact, it was so weird I’d put, “Wearing A Snuggie in a Public Place,” somewhere between, “Guy Missing Teeth and Living at the Bus Station Weird,” and “Kid Who Smells Like Pee and Eats Paste Weird.” Which, once again is not good.
13. The Tweet of the Week Comes From the SEC Tournament As Well:
It comes from someone named Andy Hutchins (sorry Andy, not quite sure who you are) and was retweeted to me by OnlyGators. And it said: “You know why we can't have a 96-team tournament? We would have to watch 30 teams worse than Florida.”
And if you can’t appreciate the humor in that, just watch Florida in this NCAA Tournament. You’ll understand.
14. In No Particular Order, Teams That Impressed Me This Week:
West Virginia and Georgetown (Duh), Marquette, Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, Montana, Siena, San Diego State and Mississippi State.
15. In No Particular Order, Teams That Didn’t Impress Me This Week:
Villanova, Michigan State, Texas, Pitt, New Mexico and…
16. Gonzaga. Which Is In Trouble From What I Can See:
Ten days ago I really liked Gonzaga. Now, I’m not so sure.
To me, they play similarly to a less talented Kentucky: Hard when they want to; good and can occasionally be great; but too often blow big leads and can’t put away inferior teams when they’re supposed to.
Now can they overcome that and win a few tournament games? Absolutely. But with the tournament tipping off in four days, is that how you’d want your team described going in? I didn't think so.
17. In No Particular Order, Some Coaches Who Impressed Me This Week:
Mike Brey of Notre Dame (Digger Phelps called this his best coaching job of his career. And even though Digger wears glasses that are tinted bright green, I still couldn’t agree more); SDSU’s Steve Fisher; Bruce Weber from Illinois; Marquette’s Buzz Williams (Nobody gets his team to play harder); Frank Haith from Miami; and believe it or not, Roy Williams, who had a disappointing team playing hard until the end.
18. In No Particular Order, Some Coaches Who Didn’t Impress Me This Week:
UConn’s Jim Calhoun; Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg; Tom Izzo from Michigan State; and Jay Wright from Villanova, had who better get his team figured out in a hurry (Honestly, I like Wright, but what’s his excuse for not having a rotation figured out by now? Nobody got thrown off the team. Nobody is coming back from injury. Nobody was deported. So you can pick eight or nine players and stick with them? Please?).
19. Now That Championship Week is Concluding, Some Commercials I Wont’ Miss Seeing:
The Papa John’s one, where the guy hits the one-handed half-court shot (Cool, we get it. What’s all this have to do with pizza?). Anything involving the World Cup (The thing doesn’t start for another three months, can we lay off a few of the commercials? Just every once in awhile? I’ve been humming that tune in my head for four straight days now, and am seeing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in my nightmares at this point). And anything to do with “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
20. Finally, I’ll End Where I Always Do, With Kansas:
Look, love them or hate them, the championship goes through Lawrence. End of story.
The way I see it is, if they’re going to lose, you better get them in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight, because once they get to the Final Four, they’re going to smell blood in the water and go for the kill.
It’s boring I know, but until I see something different, I fully expect the Jayhawks to be cutting down a fresh set of nets in three weeks.