Oregon wins Pac-12 Tournament
Once again, I have to turn this over to Bill Walton:
On the loss of Jordan Adams, “Shabazz Muhammad, he’ll get more shots, and what could be better than that?”
“The game needs a rhythm, it needs a flow. Every possession has been a turnover.”
Dave Pasch, “I don’t know if you were watching the games today at your pool party.” Bill Walton, “I was at the pool party, there was plenty to see there.”
“After as poor a start as you could possibly have, the Ducks have found their way on the Oregon Trail. Lewis and Clark would be so proud.”
“I love little fast guys. I used to be one. And then I turned 14. And hurt my knee.”
Shabazz Muhammad is sitting with two personal fouls in the first half. Pasch “So you disagree with the decision to sit him?” Walton, “Close enough.” Pasch, “Is that a yes or no?” Next Walton suggests Muhammad could just substitute himself back in. “Just walk to the scorer’s table and ask to replace somebody.” Pasch, “Would John Wooden have let you get away with that?” Walton, “I don’t remember sitting on the bench.”
“Nobody in this tournament has been able to keep any of the guards in front of them.” Ah, but that is why the Pac-12 is so fun to watch.
“I think they should play every game here in Las Vegas forever.”
“Kyle Anderson isn’t one of those guys with the bulging veins who can push everyone around, he is just a basketball player – I love it.”
“There is a way through, Lewis and Clark were right!” And the Pac-12 tournament title goes to Oregon.
Louisville wins Big East Tournament
So that is what a 27-3 run looks like.
My favorite note from the broadcast:
When Jim Larranaga left George Mason for Miami FL, Luke Hancock wanted out. Rick Pitino called and asked Larranaga about Hancock’s game. “If you need a big bucket, he is your man. If you need a big rebound, he is your man. If you need someone to play defense, he isn’t your man.” But Hancock did force a key turnover during Louisville’s big run, and I have rarely seen Rick Pitino so happy.
As sad as I am to see the Big East tournament come to the end, it certainly isn’t the end of the world. I’m looking forward to a crazy ACC tournament semifinal in two years when Syracuse, Louisville, Duke, and North Carolina all advance to the Final Four. Conference realignment is tough, but not every future scenario is bad.
Kansas wins Big 12 Tournament
Perry Ellis shot 23 of 30 in the final four games of the season. Meanwhile Naadir Tharpe dished 8 assists against Iowa St. and had a season high 12 points against Kansas St. in the Big 12 final. The best thing about players breaking out late in the year is that the scouting report isn’t out on them. For players that break out in November and December, there are plenty of conference games to analyze their game and look for weakness. When a player starts shining late in the year, it is extremely hard to game plan for because you haven’t seen what works best to slow them down.
Ole Miss wins SEC Tournament
Marshall Henderson is a loose cannon. The factoid about how he plays better in the second half because Andy Kennedy is on the same side of the court as him and can shout at him and keep him under control is one of the scariest factoids I’ve heard all year. And his Gator axe-move with his team just leading by 6 points with 8 minutes left could have drawn a technical. At minimum it was horrible judgment. But when you are a Mississippi fan and you haven’t won the SEC in 30 years, or made the tournament under Andy Kennedy, Henderson is your favorite player in the world.
Miami wins the ACC Tournament
Shane Larkin didn’t show up anywhere on Ken Pomeroy’s player-of-the-year ballot (in part because he only uses 21% of the Hurricanes possessions). But there is no doubt he is the difference between Miami being an NIT team and an ACC champion. Jim Larranaga handed him the keys to the team late last season, and he has thrived in every big moment. When the Boston College game was tight on the Friday, he was there hitting the pull-ahead three point shot. When his team needed a bucket to stay ahead of NC State and North Carolina, there he was making the perfect assist. And when those teams turned up the pressure to try to get back in the game, he avoided the costly turnover. Finally, his free throw shooting sealed both weekend games without a hiccup. In February and March, Larkin has only posted an ORtg below 100 in one game. He clearly has the heart of a champion.
Ohio St. wins the Big Ten Tournament
Maybe I’m just grumpy after another Wisconsin game in the 40’s. But the Big Ten tournament made me more angry than excited this year.
It started on Friday, when Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich noted that after speaking to the Indiana staff, the feeling was that the conference tournament was not that important. The real test of accomplishment was winning the outright regular season title. No one disagrees with that in principle. (Except Steve Alford. He still thinks he won a Big Ten title thanks to Iowa’s tournament win.) But when Indiana lost in the semifinals you could tell in Tom Crean’s voice that the Big Ten tournament just wasn’t that important to him. He said he would have “liked” to win, but that the Hoosier’s overall body of work spoke for itself. You don’t win key games in March without some chip on your shoulder. Wisconsin felt they were robbed of a regular season title. Indiana never had to come to Wisconsin and play in their building. They blew a late home game against Purdue. They wanted it. Ohio St. felt like they were always an after-thought all season after spending most of the season in 5th place in the league. Those teams wanted to prove they were legitimate on the national stage. And Crean’s under-estimate of the conference tournament is likely why Louisville will be playing in Indianapolis in the Sweet Sixteen and not Indiana.
I don’t understand why Big Ten coaches don’t value this tournament more. Tom Izzo is a fabulous NCAA tournament coach, but his teams are more likely to struggle to bubble team’s on Friday night of the Big Ten tournament than they are to bring home a Big Ten Tournament title. Indiana still has never won the tournament. Until those marquee names start making this tournament into a big deal, it will never be as fun as the other conference clashes. It obviously hurts that the Big Ten tournament final is often too late to count as part of the selection process. But as many have said, you only have so many chances in life to cut down the nets and win a title.
Congratulations to Ohio St. for winning their 5th Big Ten title, the most of any team. But too bad Thad Matta isn’t John Thompson Jr. I’d love for Matta to boast how Ohio St. owns the Big Ten tournament. Then this thing might start to mean something.
The Pac-12 has brought cool back with Bill Walton and Las Vegas. The Big East will still have Madison Square Garden (even if it doesn’t have Syracuse.) The new ACC will have the most exciting tournament in the land. The Big Ten can do better.