Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts From Last Night in Philly

As Mike pointed out earlier I spent last night taking in the night session in Philly so I thought that I would give you a quick run down of two very exciting games.

No.6 UCLA vs. No.11 VCU
VCU stormed back from 11 down with four and change to play giving themselves the opportunity to win the game at the buzzer. Unfortunately, for the Rams' Eric Maynor's last second shot came up short, but here is the problem with that last play.
1. VCU was inbounding the ball under its basket with 11.6 seconds left the play has to be to get the ball in Maynor's hands. They did, but it took to long. The ball came in to Joey Rodriguez who then needed two and a half seconds to get the ball to Maynor. At this point the play was doomed.
2. That could not have been the shot Anthony Grant had in mind for Maynor. Give Darren Collison credit, he did a tremendous job defensively, but the Rams had another timeout so when Maynor is forced up the right hand side of the court, tight to the sideline, why not call a timeout with six seconds left when he crosses half court. You would get the ball back in the postion where NBA teams get the ball after getting to advance after a timeout. They could have got the ball back to Maynor and he could have faced Collison up.
3. With all that being said, credit VCU for not going away. There were several moments in the second half when the Rams had opportunities to cut the lead, but missed a wide open shot or free throw so for them to have a shot at the end says a lot about their character.
4. VCU shot 18-of-25 from the free throw line while UCLA went 17-of-19. There is the difference in the game.
5. Larry Sanders can play. The somphomore center for the Rams was exceptional down the stretch, particularly on the defensive end blocking shots and rebounding. He did an excellent job of not fouling in the final ten minutes of the game as UCLA continuily came down the middle of the lane.
6. Why was UCLA getting into the lane so easily? The Rams chose to press the Bruins after every made basket. I understand that this is their style, but the Bruin guards were more athletic and broke the press with ease and on many occassions going coast-to-coast.

No.3 Villanova vs. No.14 American
American played very well early in the first half becasue it was able to execute its offense. The Eagles run a similar motion offense that Davidson used for Stephan Curry in last year's tournament.
They run the offense very efficiently and they were able to get their sharp-shooting senior Garrison Carr several open looks in the first half as they built that 10 point lead.
In the second half, Jay Wright made an adjustment to go to the 1-2-1-1 pseudo-press that the Wildcats are known for. The pressure didn't necessarily result in turnovers, but what it did was take American out of its rythm because the Eagles were unable to get into their offensive set as quickly.
Once 'Nova began to make its run it was clear that American was rattled. And combine that with tired legs and bad things are bound to happen. Everything that could have gone wrong in the second half did for a game American team, but as Wright said after his guys were simply superior athletes and that took over. Villanova outscored American 49-26 in the period.

This sets up an appetizing Villanova/UCLA matchup Saturday night. I like 'Nova in this game because the Bruins struggle to score especially without Collison, who did have some foul issues against VCU.
The scare that Villanova got from American is a good thing because in the NCAA tournament that first game against a mid-major that has won 14 of its last 15 and is on national T.V. for the first time trying to prove something can be difficult. The Wildcats took American's punch right in the mouth and responded like a good team should. The Cats guards will be just too much for UCLA -- remember it is a home game for 'Nova. The Pick: Villanova 75 UCLA 69

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