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It’s time to recognize John Calipari’s coaching

by - Published April 5, 2012 in Columns
author_kasiecki

Let’s give John Calipari his due as a coach. This would be needed even if Kentucky lost on Monday night, but now that they have done what a team with that talent should do by winning the national championship, we need to give him his due and put an end to all the things that have been said about him to dismiss his coaching ability. It’s time we stopped saying the common lines that have been uttered about him that stop short of giving him credit as a coach.

Let’s stop saying he’s just a great recruiter.

… Continue Reading

Kentucky, SEC shatter statistical expectations; ACC underwhelms

by - Published April 4, 2012 in Columns
author_protos

It’s good to be an SEC fan.

On Monday night, Kentucky completed its return to national supremacy by winning the program’s first championship since 1998. The title run marked the Wildcats’ second consecutive Final Four under coach John Calipari, who figures to make Kentucky a national championship contender pretty much every season that he’s on the sidelines.

Even though many people figured the Wildcats would cut down the nets in New Orleans, Kentucky exceeded expectations from a statistical perspective as soon as the Wildcats beat Baylor to reach the Final Four. Based on seed expectations, the typical No. 1 seed wins 3.32 games. So reaching the Elite Eight isn’t much to crow about for No. 1 seeds. … Continue Reading

An improbable run by Kansas? That’s what this is

by - Published April 2, 2012 in Columns
kansas

One team was supposed to be here, one team wasn’t. The latter could be said in more ways than one. But as Monday night’s national championship game beckons, Kentucky and Kansas are something of a study in contrasts from the standpoint of how they got to this point. While there will surely be a lot of talk of about recent history between these two teams and head coaches, a better subject is the contrast in the expectations many had of these teams, and how one of them has reached here in what was thought to be more of a rebuilding year than a contending one. In doing so, we find that Bill Self may have done his best coaching job yet.

“We have kind of flown under the radar, by Kansas standards of late, which I think has been very healthy for a team that’s just trying to find themselves,” said Self.

… Continue Reading

Ohio State gets a little help and advances to the Final Four

by - Published March 25, 2012 in Columns
ohiostate

BOSTON – Jared Sullinger came back to college for this. He felt his team had this kind of potential, even if many others didn’t. In the end, he proves to be right, as his young Ohio State team is headed to the Final Four, and not on the backs of four players who carried them for a lot of the season.

Ohio State’s 77-70 victory had a little irony in that they won the game a little like the way their opponents often beat teams this season. Ohio State didn’t use a zone defense like Syracuse, but whereas the Orange won a lot of games with their depth, Ohio State did so on Saturday to a different degree. The man of the hour, if there truly is one, was not Sullinger, and it wasn’t surging Deshaun Thomas, feisty point guard Aaron Craft or steady senior William Buford.

… Continue Reading

Simply put, Syracuse survives and advances

by - Published March 23, 2012 in Columns
syracuse

BOSTON – It’s not just a cliché that three words are all that matter in March – survive and advance.  That’s what Syracuse did on Thursday night, surviving a game that a lot of teams might have lost against Wisconsin with a 64-63 win.  Indeed, head coach Jim Boeheim was having a hard time trying to remember a similar game that his team has won.

“They made 14 threes, and usually that’s enough,” said the Syracuse mentor.  “I don’t think anybody has ever made 14 threes against us and we beat them.”

… Continue Reading

A-10 and Big East sit pretty entering Sweet 16

by - Published March 20, 2012 in Columns
author_protos

Through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, which conferences are off to the best start? The answer — mathematically speaking — might surprise you: the Atlantic 10 and Big East.

Yes, the Big Ten has four teams in the Sweet 16, the same number as the Big East. But the Big Ten was supposed to do well with five teams receiving a No. 4 seed or better. In comparison, the Big East had one fewer team among the protected seeds.

In looking at teams’ actual performance vs. expected performance based on seeds, the Atlantic 10 and Big East are shining stars among conferences that sent at least three teams to the Big Dance. … Continue Reading

Oliver McNally a consistent leader in Harvard’s rise

by - Published March 16, 2012 in Columns
harvard

Will Wade remembers the first time he saw Oliver McNally play. In particular, he remembers the impression the young guard left on him as he drove and dunked on a defender, and as the defender hit the floor McNally looked right down at him before getting back on defense. Wade, who is now an assistant at VCU, knew Harvard needed a guy like him in the program, and as McNally’s career comes to a close, that first impression wasn’t a false one. That’s fitting, because McNally has been nothing if not consistent as a winner.

McNally was the first recruit for Tommy Amaker after he took the job at Harvard. Amaker had coached at great academic schools before, having played and been an assistant at Duke and more recently at Michigan before coming to Cambridge, so he wasn’t in unfamiliar territory. But this was a little different job for him, as Seton Hall and Michigan had been to the NCAA Tournament before – indeed, each had been to Final Fours, with Michigan winning a national championship. Harvard, on the other hand, had never been to the NCAA Tournament since it was the major postseason tournament. The last time Harvard made it was 1946, back when the NIT was the postseason tournament teams wanted to be in. And as academics go, no school stands above Harvard.

… Continue Reading

Leonard Hamilton has made Florida State an elite program

by - Published March 15, 2012 in Columns
floridastate

During the ACC Tournament, Leonard Hamilton spoke of trying to become a program of significance in the ACC, and by extension, nationally. When the Florida State mentor was asked if his program had reached that point, he deferred to those in the media.

“We don’t determine that,” said Hamilton with a smile. “You guys do.”

In that vein, I offer you this: Florida State has become a program of significance both in the ACC and nationally. That was the case even before they won the ACC Tournament on Sunday, but that certainly doesn’t hurt.

… Continue Reading

March to Madness: Breaking down the East and Midwest

by - Published March 13, 2012 in Columns
author_protos

In our first look at the brackets, we checked out the South and West, with lots of love for Kentucky and Missouri.

In this edition, we’re looking at the East Region in Boston and Midwest Region in St. Louis. There’s plenty of excitement ahead in both regions, and we take a look at the top players, potential spoilers and bracket favorites. … Continue Reading

March to Madness: Dissecting the South and West

by - Published March 12, 2012 in Columns
author_protos

During the next couple of days, we’ll profile each region of the NCAA Tournament bracket, breaking down the favorites and potential Cinderellas. We’ll also spotlight a few of the players you should keep an eye on.

The VCU Index searches to find a team that can fit the glass slipper. This is a team with a No. 10 seed or worse that has the chops to make a run to the Final Four.

And of course, we have to pick a team to reach New Orleans. … Continue Reading

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