Friday, March 23, 2007

NCAA Notes

1. Southern Illinois plays the best man-to-man defense I've seen in years. I was really sorry to see them lose last night, because they are unbelievably sound fundamentally. Their coach should get a big offer from someone.

2. Every time I've seen a Big Ten team this year it's been excruciating to watch. The Big Twelve was like that about five years ago--a strong basketball conference but almost totally unwatchable. Ohio St. is the one of the strangest teams I've ever seen--they play so badly for such long stretches that you wonder how they even made it to the tournament, but somehow they keep winning games. Same thing with Greg Oden--I keep hearing that he's the #1 draft pick and I wonder if people are smoking crack. The guy can't run up and down the court for more than a few minutes before he's totally exhausted, and his offensive range is about three feet. I know he's very quick in terms of blocking shots, and that's a skill you can't teach, but please. Kevin Durant can shoot the three, he can drive the lane, he can post up, he blocks shot, he takes charges--he even gets a few steals. And he runs like a deer. He's going to score 20-25 points every night and get 10+ rebounds. Plus he's still growing--he'll put on 15-20 more pounds of muscle. Anyone who doesn't draft that kid first is crazy.

3. Here's why Kentucky should hire Billy Gillispie instead of John Calipari, who seems to be getting most of the run this morning. Gillispie, no matter where he's coached and in what role, has always been a huge success. At A&M, he took over a team that was 7-21 and 0-16 in conference, truly one of the worst major conference programs in Division 1, and they won 21 games the first season (8-8 in conference). In year three, they went 27-7, 13-3 in conference, and were one shot away from being in the Elite Eight.

In other words, he improves programs, and quickly. He's a great game coach and a great recruiter, and he has absolutely zero personal life--his whole life is basketball. That's all a perfect fit for Kentucky fans.

4. I'm very curious to see what happens in the Florida-Butler game tonight, because Florida (to me) is overrated. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Buter wins.

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