Sunday, March 23, 2008

Random Thoughts

- So, Davidson, huh? I know three kids who have gone there. A fine liberal arts school-- the Amherst of the Southeast, which bizarrely decided to make its basketball program D-I. (Comparable schools, academically and size-wise, like Grinnell, Williams, Wesleyan, Pomona and Carleton are uniformly D-III and do not offer athletic scholarships. Though there are random exceptions-- like Colorado College in hockey.) But enough of the background. If you're like me, you're probably wondering-- "Gonzaga maybe, but how in the hell did Davidson beat Georgetown?" I was wondering that as well, especially since CBS refused to show Davidson rallying from a double digit deficit, preferring to show the interminable Butler-Tennessee game. But the box score generally reveals what happened. Georgetown blew it. They forced Davidson into relatively poor overall shooting. They did fine on the boards. They shot well. But the Hoyas fouled like crazy-- 27 fouls for the game. That led to Davidson shooting 30 free throws, which they converted at an 80% clip. Plus, they only forced 4 Davidson turnovers. Whoa, boy that's impressive ball security from Davidson. Then the Georgetown offense-- 20 turnovers in a 61 possession game. That's 30% of the teams' possessions-- flat on terrible. (The worst season-long turnover percentage in D-I this year was 28.6%.) And just that didn't do it. G'Town attempted 17 free throws; they made 8. Yeah, that's a 47% rate from the line, and they lost by four points. Shooting horribly from the line, fouling a ton, forcing no turnovers, and forfeiting 30% of your possessions. That's a self-induced recipe for failure.

- That's not to say that Davidson isn't a good team. They're 29th in Pomeroy's ratings (ahead of Ohio State and Illinois) and haven't lost a game since December. They played Duke, UNC and UCLA close earlier in the season. We know they have Dell Curry's kid, Stephen, and that kid is a legitimate great offensive player at any level-- an outstanding shooter from anywhere, a great ball handler, wonderfully heady. The shots of his parents in the stands may be annoying, but he is really good. Maybe we noticed Lovedale, the team's best rebounder. He looks pretty solid. They go nine deep. Most of their points come from their guards. They're very efficient offensively. They rarely turn the ball over, and defensively they do a good job of forcing turnovers and cleaning the defensive glass. But otherwise, they're not world beaters defensively. But it's enough to be concerned about, and not to get cocky over. Keep your heads, Badger fans.

- Lots of kudos to the team defense on Beasley yesterday. Landry, Butch, Stiemer, Krabby, all the frontcourt guys played their parts. And special props to Krabby, who switched between Walker and Beasley and back throughout the game. Not many tougher assignments than that.

- Did anyone notice that the Badgers started pulling away in the second half when they stopped turning the ball over? 3 turnovers in the second half and Wisconsin outscores K-State by 11. Not just a coincidence.

- I like this article, from the Kansas City Star, that claims Wisconsin had more talent than K-State, because talent should include being smart. At the same time, it's a little irritating because it reiterates the general media theory that Wisconsin's talent is less than other teams' in the tournament. I disagree. Wisconsin's roster is full of four (Stiemsma, Hughes, Bohannon, Leuer, Nankivil) and five star (Butch, Krabbenhoft) recruits. Kids don't earn those ratings unless they've demonstrated a fair amount of natural ability. And it's not like Wisconsin's players regress when they arrive on campus. They just subsume their abilities to the demands of the system and the team, because, as Butch has said, the team is all about winning. Apparently, you're not talented if you don't average 20 a game or don't constantly throw down tomahawks. Silly, and it's getting tiring.

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