March 18, 2007

Spokane: That's a wrap

Think we could go back in time so I can watch all that basketball again?

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Spokane: That's a ballgame

Final was 87-68. At least three Trojans were in double figures, maybe four. Despite 20 and 30 points from Abrams and Durant, respectively, the Longhorns just couldn't overcome lockdown defense from USC.

So, three Pac-10 teams in the Sweet 16 ... does this mean the Pac-10 will finally get some respect?

Off to the press conference and then ... I-90, I-84 and I-5. Ah, something to look forward to.

Spokane: Fans filing out

Sensing UT's impending doom, fans are starting to file out. Looks like the Trojans will join the Ducks and Bruins of UCLA in getting the Pac-10 some respect. Score is 81-68 right now with just 1:44 to go.

They are showing a USC assistant on the big screen right now ... who is he? What did he do? Is it just me or are his pants a little short?

Spokane: Blah

This is a bad game. i know the score of the Oregon game indicates it, too, was a bad game, but it was fun to watch because of all the athletic plays the Ducks and Martin from Winthrop made. This game is just kinda blah. USC leads 78-61. Credit their defense and hustle, really. The whoopin' Oregon gave the Trojans in the Pac-10 Tourney final really taught them a lesson.

Durant has 30 in what could be his last college game. There's a lot of speculation about if he'll return next year. As a college basketball fan, I have to say I hope he does return because man, he is fun to watch.

3:15 to play, timeout UT.

Spokane: Trojans flying high

Could we have the second Pac-10 team of the day headed to the Sweet 16?

USC looks so damn good right now. Every time Texas tries to go on a little run, USC has the answer. A few possessions ago it was Young slicing through the defense for a sweet twisting layup and just now it was Stewart with a 16-foot baseline jumper.

Texas is down 18 and just can't get over the hump. 6:52 to play ... Durant has 22 points and had an emphatic steal and dunk a minute ago, but it's not enough. He needs to score almost every possession at this point, which he is perfectly capable of.

In other news, we're getting false information from the PA! He just said Nevada was up by four, but a friend told me Memphis is up 13 ... what's going on? We should all get free candy from the Spokane Arena for the PA being wrong.

Spokane: Will Durrant turn it on?

Durant had 11 points in the first half and the Longhorns went into the locker room down seven, 34-27. it's not 39-30 with USC still in control ... There's a lot of time left though (18:19 to be exact) and I expect Durant to make a push pretty soon, ala Big XII tourney style.

Abrams had a good half, going 5-for-11 with 12 points. If he and Durant can get going together, the inside-out combo would be really hard to stop, even with USC's defense.

Now it's 44-33 ... talk about teams that are capable of scoring in bunches.

Spokane: Tattoo overload

Now this might be semi-hypocritcal of me because I have a tattoo,. but at least mine isn't ugly/weird-looking like Daniel Hackett's from USC. He has a few, but his one on his right shoulder kind of looks like little bear prints up his arm. I don't get it. Think I can ask him about that in the post game press conference?

Speaking of press conferences, Oregon brough Adam Zahn to their's. I want to know who requested him so I can go smack said person with the media guide. You probably don't know much about Zahn because I didn't blog about him. That's probably because he played a whopping six minutes.

USC leads 32-17 ... man, Texas looks bad right now. Durant still has, you guessd it, four points.

Oh but then they give him the ball and BAM! a 3. Crazy how that works.

Spokane: Scrammble

Looked like a bit of a rugby match in front of the USC bench a second ago as players dove, rolled and probably bit each other trying to come up with a loose ball. USC came up with it, how I'm not sure.

Trojans lead 19-13. I couldn't tell you much besides that because I just got back from the press conference. Lodrick Stewart has taken two shots from the perimeter and both have clanged off the rim. That's just what I've seen though, because he does have five points.

21-13 USC with 9:46 to play ... make that 24.

Spokane: Ducks headed to Sweet 16

The Oregon players started smiling and high-fiving each other with around 30 seconds to go. You heart breaks for Winthrop, the potential Cinderella, but you have to be happy for the Ducks after three years of underachieving.

Off to the post game press conference. Texas and USC are on the floor right now. I think Durant's feet got bigger in the Longhorns' day off.

Spokane: I see Jordan Kent

There's been a Jordan Kent sighting! Jordan, the son of Ernie, played basketball the last two seasons but took this year off (from basketball and track) to concentrate on getting ready for the NFL. He's a pretty incredible athlete to say the least.

Oregon is slowly starting to pull ahead. The Ducks lead 69-50 with 3:17 to play. Three Oregon players are in double figures. Bradshaw just hit double figures for Winthrop with a 3. His 10 points have come quietly to say the least.

Spokane: Eagles losing steam

Winthrop might be starting to decline a little. They're down 15 right now, and I've always felt 15 points is much more than 12 psychologically, even though it's realistically only one more shot.

The Eagles are starting to take some poor shots and not working the ball inside-out. Williams is at the line right now though after grabbing an offensive board. He hits one of two, but Eagles get the rebound. If the Ducks win the battle on the glass, I'll be surprised.

Gaynor just hit a 3 to bring them within 11, so maybe I'm wrong. But they have to be within four with four minutes to go if they want a chance. Right now it's 6:57 and it's a 61-48 lead for the Ducks.

Spokane: 0 for 3

The refs are calling this half a lot tighter, espeically on rebounding fouls. Bradshaw just came back in because Williams picked up another foul.

winthrop has to be the ball inside! They are missing him so much after a screen is set before the defense collapses. I'm sitting on the baseline of the Winthrop bench so I'm sure I'm right. Then again, don't the spectators ALWAYS have the better view? The coach, the media, the guy sitting in the 300 level ... we all like to think we can see better than the players on the floor. And we can DEFINITELY see better than the refs, right?

Ducks lead 54-43 after Brooks -- who wears number 0 -- hit another 3. He has 17 points and we've still got 10 minutes to play.

Make it 20.

Spokane: Porter's hot hand

Tajuan Porter, the freshman point guard for the Ducks, had three points in the first half. So much for freshman jitters.

We've played five minutes and 10 seconds of ball in the second half, and Porter already has 11 points. Ducks lead by 11, 48-37. Winthrop is doing a much better job putting the ball inside to Bradshaw, but he needs to finish consistently.

Spokane: Shot review

And after lengthy discussion, Porter's shot was ruled a two-pointer.

Bradshaw had ... two shots in the first half! Just two. He had more turnovers (3) than he did shots. He went to the line right away in the second half, but made just one. And he just missed one inside again, but Martin picked up the board.

Kent must have given the Ducks a stern talking-to, because they've come out pretty hot. After Porter's reviewed shot he hit a deep 3 and Leunen just scored for Oregon. Ducks lead 43-33. Don't lose faith Winthrop fans -- they Eagles are far from being done.

Stats were pretty even at halftime, but Oregon was outrebounded by six.

Spokane: Oregon ends half with 10-2 run

Oregon was on a roll for a few minutes there, scoring 10 straight points to grab the lead 33-27. But Porter dribbled into traffic and turned the ball over and Winthrop's Adams hit a leaner at the buzzer.Now it's 33-29 Ducks. Momentum killer for the Ducks -- don't be surprised if the Eagles come out fired up and hit a few shots. Martin is 2-for-5 on 3's, but he'll find his touch soon.

Bradshaw still only has four points, but it might be because Winthrop is running a motion and Bradshaw is getting stuck on the perimeter a lot. I'm sure Marshall will make a point at halftime of being more patient and trying to get Bradshaw the ball on the block more.

Stats analysis on it's way soon ...

Spokane: Fundamentals

Four different Oregon players have tried to make reverse layups. I wonder if they know how to shoot a layup on the SAME side they're on?

Ducks have cut it to one after a Taylor 3. Winthrop still leads 27-26.

Okay I have to say this even though it is not too nice: Someone needs to just get the Oregon dance team a pole.

Spokane: Go hard or go home

The refs are pretty much letting everything go. Brooks just drove the lane and dished to Zahn and bodies were flying everywhere. DeAndre Adams for Winthrop wound up smacking the ground, but no foul on anyone. On the other end, I'm sure Bradshaw for Winthrop will have cuts bruises and bumps all over him at the end of this game because the Ducks are just knocking him around. Or trying to at least -- Bradshaw, like I wrote yesterday, is a former rugby player, so he's not exactly a pushover.

Okay remember how I wrote the other day that Oregon's rotation on its match up zone was very good? Yeah, today their rotation on man-to-man isn't so hot. For the second straight time a Winthrop player just made a back door cut to get an open layup. Ernie Kent called a timeout to yell at the Ducks for that one.

Brooks came down two times in a row and pulled up for a 3, hitting only the first. Now it's great that he has that confidence, but Oregon needs to play better D if they want to win this game. They can't just rely on their star.

Bradshaw only has four points for the Eagles and hasn't touched the ball that much. Winthrop needs to get him touches virtually every time down the floor so Oregon will foul. (They did the first two possessions, so what would change?)

27-23 Winthrop lead with 5:26 to go.

Spokane: Hariston has answer

Oregon's Malik Hariston drove the lane, took a shot and missed and looked ticked when they didn't call a foul. So he responded by stealing the ball and dunking on the other end. Then Brooks made a nice drive and got the foul.

Martin is 2-for-3 from the arc though and that -- along with constant hustle from all the Eagles -- is keeping Winthrop in this game even though the Ducks are starting to heat up a bit.

Oregon just played great defense to force a shot clock violation on the Eagles and it brought every Duck fan to their feet.

Okay, I have to hand it to the Winthrop band, they are pretty clever. All of the band members have little duck faces on sticks with tears running down the ducks' cheeks. They wave them at Oregon players during free throws.

Tied at 17 with 10:57 left ... is it too early to predict OT?

Spokane: Winthrop off to hot start

Ernie Kent is wearing a red tie ... he knows that's Winthrop's color, right?

Gaynor for Winthrop hit a corner 3 to start the game, then Oregon got called for an over and back violation.

Bryce Taylor made a nice spin and 8-foot jump shot to get Oregon on the board, right after he almost ran in Leunen.

Ducks just got called for their second team foul ... this could be ugly inside if Winthrop pounds it inside and Oregon has to foul ... the Ducks bench production is not exactly stellar.

Eagles lead 6-4 with 15:41 to go. By the way, their are more people dressed in green and yellow than maroon and gold, but the overwhelming cheer in the arena right now is "Go Eagles!"

Spokane: Do you know the Winthrop fight song?

By the time this game is over, I'll probably know the fight song as I am sitting RIGHT next to the Eagles' band. And I mean right next to ... I could probably reach out and touch them if I wanted. This should be great for my hearing.

Starting lineups are being announced right now ... a lot of media members I've talked to say they think Winthrop is going to pull it off. The Ducks have to play better than they did Friday, that's for sure. Oregon has on its lightning yellow uniforms. Good, I'll be blind and deaf at the end of this.

Along with being a track meet, it should be a high-flying game. Martin from Winthrop has some sweet moves that often result in reverse layups or dunks and ditto for a lot of the Ducks.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd, we're off!

Spokane: Tomorrow's preview

I would like to start this entry out by saying there is some really bad late night TV in Spokane.

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March 17, 2007

Spokane: Practice makes perfect

It's an off day here in Eastern Washington and teams have been filing in and out of the press room to answer all our lovely questions. Which, as you are probably aware, translates to approximately 45 mintes of cliches.

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Spokane Wrap up: And my fortune says ...

Sorry for the long delay, but we grabbed a bite to eat at P.F. Changs, this delicious Chinese restaurant downtown.

But before I go any further, I should probably explain who “we” is.

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Spokane: Another Pac-10 team moves on

So sue me. I like my own conference.

Final was 77-60. Not much to say ... Arkansas certainly didn't play like a team that deserved to be in the tourney. Their band and cheerleaders were good though.

Alright, I'm going to write my wrap up of the day when I get back to my hotel. For now, it's on to post game press conference and then to get some food. Steak, maybe ...

Spokane: Hustlin' Hackett

I really like alliteration.

Hackett drove, got blocked on an 8-footer, got the ball back and made a layup falling down as the shot clock expired. Hustle and athletic plays like that is why USC is winning this game. So much for being within four with four minutes to go for Ark. Trojans lead 69-52.

As a West Coast girl I have to say thank goodness USC won; after the pathetic showings of Stanford and Arizona, everyone was starting to rip on the Pac-10 again. Now I realize Oregon squeaking by Miami didn't do much for the Pac-10's rep, either, but a win is a win. If the Ducks lose to Winthrop Sunday, then I'll admit the Pac-10 is nothing but hype. And I'll transfer to a Big XII school because I can't be in a bad basketball conference.

Do you think if I transferred to Texas I could follow Rick Barnes around non-stop asking him why he doesn't give the ball to Durant on virtually every possession? I'm sure that'd be his dream come true: some annoying 20something shadowing him and questioning every decision he makes. Hey, someone has to do the dirty work around here.

March 16, 2007

Spokane: USC has answer

Everytime Ark scores or threaten with a really good defensive series, the Trojans have an answer. The latest was a nice spin move on the block by Nick Young. That put USC up 57-43.

But then Ark came down and scored again ... and then Gibson did, too. I kinda feel like we're at a track meet with as quickly as these teams are getting the ball up and down the floor.

7:35 to go and it's kinda a ho-hum game. USC is doing a good job breaking the press and handling the Backs' pressure (though they missed a WIDE open Stewart down the floor on their last possession). It's 59-46 and if Ark wants a chance, they need to be within four with four minutes to go. You never know ...

An intersting bit of trivia: if Ark does not lose this game, it will be the first time since 2000 that there was NO 12-5 upset.

Spokane: Trojans opening it up

I was kinda close -- Gibson had 12 points in the first half and seven rebounds. Since then he's scored three more points, so he's got 16. USC is up by just 12, 49-37, but it feels like a lot more. The Razorbacks can't really close the gap and they're not exactly playing pretty basketball.

I went t-shirt hunting and what a lame selection! They only have one shirt with all the teams at this site on it and then shirts for each individual team, including ... wait for it ... Gonzaga. Uh, they know the Zags 1.) aren't at this site and 2.) lost, right?


Jim Boeheim is sitting home watching this game fuming. I'd betcha my lunch money.

Spokane: Halftime

So you know when opposing fans do that thing where they count down the shot clock to try to fool the other team into taking a quick shot when there's actually about 5 MORE seconds left?

Yeah that didn't work for my team in high school so I'm curious as to why it's working in Division-I basketball? Ark took a shot with about 2 seconds left. Now they might have done it to have a chance at an offensive board (which USC pulled away from them) but still.

Trojans lead 38-27 at half. Gibson has been huge ... I don't have stats yet, but I'm guessing it's around 15 points. Ark needs to put the ball inside a bit more and let Hill go at it. But before that they need to not turn the ball over in the backcourt.

I'm off to check out the t-shirt display.

Spokane: Tough Trojans

USC up 30-21, mostly due to the Trojan's toughness. I've always thought to win in March you need rebounding, defense and toughness. USC has that right now.

Though I'm not surprised how tough they are. I know people who go to USC who say getting robbed at gun point is a regular thing. It's hardly a school for wimps.

Gibson already has 10 points and five rebounds. Not bad for a rook.

Hill for Ark should be dominating -- he's bigger than everyone on the floor. He just needs to turn over his OTHER shoulder when he catches it down low and dribbles/fakes to one side.

Now it's USC 34, Ark 23. 3:52 to play. I still smell steak ...

Spokane: Not going anywhere

If you are in Spokane and going shopping for hair gel and can't find any, it's because USC's Keith Wilkinson has bought all of it. And it is currently all in his hair.

USC leads 20-19 with 7:46 left in the first.

Spokane: Back and forth

Up and down, up and down we go ... tied at 14. Taj Gibson slammed a dunk home to even it up. (He also traveled on his way to the hoop, but who's keeping track of that?)

Trojans are doing a good job moving the ball quickly against UA's zone and find the gaps. They're patient but not boring. It's the happy medium.

18-16 UA after a sweet move from Washington. He also got fouled and hit the FT.

I don't think either of these teams brought many fans, at least compared with Oregon and Texas. I think most of the people here now are just fans of basketball in general.

Spokane: Arkansas up early

Alright the Arkansas cheerleaders are the most in sync team I've seen today. They are all also relatively the same height: shorter than me.

In other news, the Razorbacks are up 11-6 with 14:10 to play. I just returned from the press conf slash a bathroom break. That's the great thing about working a male-dominated profession: there's never a line at the bathroom.

USC coach Tim Floyd needs a haircut. So does Steven Hill for UA. Maybe they could get a 2-for-1 deal somewhere in Spokane.

Thomas just hit a 3 for the Razorbacks ... and Gibson answered back. Then Gibson grabbed a steal. This is going to be a really good game.

It smells like steak. And the media room is already closed! So disappointing. Good thing my hotel is right next to an Appleby's -- half off appetizers after 9.

Okay I promise I'm going to pay attention now.

Spokane: Texas advances

Texas wins, 70-67. Durant had a lot of points and not a lot of touches. But you already knew that.

Rick Barnes just walked past me and he's wearing a purple tie. He knows that's not one of their school colors, right? In fact, he knows that that color belongs to Kansas State who beat the Longhorns 73-32 in early February. Hmm ... maybe it's some weird type of motivation.

Arkansas has just taken the floor, to some cheers and some boos. Depending on whom you ask, some people think Arkansas shouldn't have been here and Cuse should be. I'm supposed to be objective. (I know many of you are scoffing right now.)

USC is playing Arkansas. The Trojans had a nice run in the Pac-10 tourney, but got crushed by Oregon in the final. Should be a good game. Usually I would give the nod to the 12 seed, but I just don't think the SEC was very tough this year.

Time for press conferences and -- more importantly -- cliches.

Spokane: UT starting to pull away

Now that I've written that, the Longhorns will surely make this intersting by not playing a lot of defense. Because, as you know, that's how things work in March.

Durant headed to the line for two after grabbing a rebounded one-handed (which any coach will tell you is not fundamental and very cool to watch). He sinks them both and UT leads 75-66 with 1:07 to play.

A NM St. fan just yelled "Why don't you just let them walk to New Mexico?!" I guess she thought Durant traveled? I don't know, fans are crazy. First for saying that and second, for assuming anyone would want to walk to New Mexico. Have you ever been to New Mexico? Really.

Spokane: Instant offense

You're probably sick of me talking about this. Heck, I'M sick of me talking about this. But my God, JUST GIVE DURANT THE BALL. I'm talking with the guys next to me and we all agree that Durant doesn't touch the ball enough and that if they would give to him when he is FIRST open (instead of waiting 2-7 seconds, which is preferred, evidently) he would score 80 percent of the time.

Nonetheless, they give him the ball, he's fouled and now on his way to the line. Texas leads 67-62 with 3:37 to play.

At the Oregon press conference I was talking with reporter from the Northwest who covers Oregon a lot and he said he thought Oregon "had 95 percent of the talent in the ballgame and only won by 2" because Kent was outcoached. If Texas pulls this out, it's going to be the same line I think.

There is a guy on the Texas bench wearing the equivalent of a men's V-neck sweater. This is neither cool nor acceptable.

Durant hits both FTs. I guess one good thing for him is that he touches the ball so infrequently his shooting percentage is incredibly high.

Spokane: The best show in town

I might be the only one ot say this, but the refs in big time games rock. Not because they are necessarily good officials but because they are so dramatic.

Example: Down on NM's end, ball goes out of bounds on right side of key. Baseline official on left side of key runs over (blowing his whistle about seven times) kneels down as if the baseline is going to tell him who touched the ball last, then makes a very dramatic "RED! BALL!" gesture.

He is so just trying to get on TV.

Let's see ... Texas went about six possessions in a row without Durant touching the ball and score on one of them. Then Augustin drove and flipped the ball to Durant, who hit a 12-footer. Crazy, isn't it? If Texas wants to win this game -- and they're only up one with 7:22 to play, so they better get their act together -- Durant needs to touch the ball EVERY time. At the very least it will draw a double team and he can pass to someone else.

Meanwhile, Passos for NM St. has four dunks, all them embarrassing for the Longhorns.

Aggies just stole the ball ... Gibson fouled and on his way to the line ... 57-56 before the FTs.

NM St gets lead back. Throws a full court press at Longhorns and UT has to call a timeout because they picked up their dribble in the corner. You know, right where the trap was coming. 7:10 to go.

Spokane: T'ed up

NM St. coach Theus got T'ed up in the last timeout. All of us on media row sensed it coming, too. He's calmed down a little, but that might be because his kids have just hit two 3's. Texas leads 47-41, and they just turned the ball over. I swear less than a minute ago Texas was up 12.

Abrams just made a nifty little drive inside to score ... and then Iti answered for the Aggies.

Oh and then Justin Mason got WIDE open down the floor. They threw it to him, he took his time, slammed it down with two hands. You know the routine.

Durant just got clotheslined in the mouth. He was still asking for the ball on the block and they (shockingly!) did not give it to him. Texas leads 53-47 with 11:32 to go. I think practically every seat in this arena is occupied right now. And in news you really don't care about, the Aggies have a man dressed like a cowboy complete with chaps, hat and plaid shirt. He also has guns. How did he get past security? I thought firearms weren't allowed.

Then again, I snuck in a granola bar, so maybe I should have lost faith in the security people from the beginning.

Spokane: Durant leads with 14

More evidence that Durant is one of the best players in the game right now: pretty much no plays were called for him, he really didn't touch the ball that much and he still has 14 points. Impressive. He's 5-for-9 from the field and perfect from the line.

Even on rebounds, even on turnovers and pretty much even on shooting percentages. Texas leads 35-31 with 18:50 left in the game. Durant just went down, and his body twisted in an unnatura way doing os. He got up though.

Hmm ... whaddathink? Think NM St. will hang around the whole time like Miami did with Oregon? I'll say yes.

And the most exciting part of this: we aren't even to the 12-5 matchup yet and those ones are always good!

Also, please don't tell anyone, but I ate two ice cream bars at halftime. I know, I know ... but it's an unwritten rule among the media that during big tournaments/events, all diets are off.

Spokane: Halftime

Texas leads by three at half. How I'm not really sure.

I'm not sure why I'm complaining though: after all the blowouts yesterday, it's nice to have a good game. Durant started to take over for a little bit, hitting a leaner and another shot and then Abrams hit a big 3, but NM St continues to rebound well offensively.

Hey, they made halftime five minutes longer, I think! This is great -- someone out there is reading this and really listening to what I have to say and caring about my opinion.

Let's try this then: if any of my professors are reading this, I'm convinced I deserve A's in EVERYTHING.

Okay well maybe not Spanish because I do not understand a word this guy next to me is saying. Except when he says "Durant."

Spokane: Lots o' sweat

I've always found it disgusting how much guys can sweat in such a little period of time and make their uniforms a darker shade. Passos from NM St. is doing this right now. It looks pretty gross.

Not much to blog about here. Oh, except for the fact that Texas is GETTING BEAT BY A TEAM THAT WENT 11-5. IN THE WAC. Whatever.

I do have to hand it to the Aggies -- they are playing pretty well. They're getting on the glass, moving the ball and knocking down open shots. The good news for Texas is that I don't think they could miss any more easy shots inside. Those are bound to fall eventually, right?

It dawned on me about an hour ago that the people who are going to win the office pools this year are ones who don't know anything about college basketball and just picked the higher seed to win. How lame is that? People who love college ball pride themselves on being able to pick key upsets. And this year, all of the "experts" thus far have sucked at it.

NM St leads, 27-24 with 2:59 to go in the half.

Spokane: Is this really happening?

Really? Texas is tied with NEW MEXICO STATE? Good heavens.

You know, if Barnes isn't going to give Durant the ball, maybe Durant should take things into his own hands.

Durant: Uh, hey, D.J.
Augustin: 'Sup, man?
Durant: Gimme the rock. I'm really good. And I'm tall.
Augustin: *Thinks about what it would be like to ride best player in the nation to Final Four* Sweet, dude, yeah, good idea.

And later in the press conference they can thank God and each other and their fans. Sound like a plan?

Aggies lead 24-19. We're not even 13 minutes into the game and NM St. has already slammed home two dunks.

In other news, Aggie coach Reggie Theus looks like he might work for the mob on the weekends with his suit.

Spokane: POY

Now, I have never coached a team older than a group of fifth graders, but if Durant were on my team I would have one play. And it would be called "35." It would involve giving him the ball pretty much every time and letting him create something. And when the other team started triple-teaming him, I'd let him pass out of it because he has great court vision.

I am curious as to why Rick Barnes does not share this view.

NM St. leads 15-13. For crying out loud, if THIS is an upset, I am giving up on March Madness.

Spokane: Where is everyone?

Um, where the heck are all the fans? Dont' they know that Kevin Durant is playing right now? Do they know how good he is?

I think my question in the press conference for Durant will be, "On behalf of college basketball fans everywhere, will you please stay another year?" I'm sure that will get some laughs at least.

In other news, I am sitting right next to the guy who does Spanish radio and it is bringing back horrible memories from the Spanish final I took/failed yesterday.

NM St. lead 4-3.

PS -- Durant is WAY skinny in person. Let's make bets on how much he weighs. He's listed at 225. That's laughable. I'd say ... 197. Soaking wet.

Spokane: No go for Bramos

Bramos' deep 3 -- a fadeaway, nonetheless, due to tough defense -- didn't go. Luenen just sealed this game with two FTs. Oregon will advance to play Winthrop.

Whoa! Bramos couldn't hit a 3 a second ago, but he hit a shot at the buzzer, making the final 58-56 Oregon. In some ways, I bet that sucks even more. Kent doesn't look extremely happy (and why should he, really?) but the Ducks advance and that's what's important.

Miami wraps up a good season and even though they lost this game, I know they were on an incredibly high after winning their conference tourney on an even more incredible shot.

Spokane: Brooks to line

I wonder if Brooks was nervous at all when he drove into the lane and three defenders appeared.

He just hit his first FT, so I'm thinking no. Got the second one, too. 21.1 seconds to go. Are we feeling another bank 3 from Miami?

Every Oregon fan is on their feet. And 90 percent of them look like they're about to throw up. Except for Phil Knight, who is just standing in his Oregon hat like it's a lovely summer day and he's watching a golf match.

Spokane: No blowout today

Well I guess we can't complain about any bad games today ... Just watching this game about makes me sick to my stomache! Tim Pollitz of Miami hit a shot over Luenen, and Haws are within one with 41 seconds to go.

Man this would be a huge upset.

Spokane: Down to the wire

Miami has come up with two big blocks on Oregon's last two possessions and is down just three with 2:05 left. Yikes. This is nerve-wracking for any basketball fan. The great thing about March Madness is that even if you like the favorite, it's so fun to see the underdog win that you are almost okay with either thing happening. Okay well not EVERYONE would agree with that. But I'm just saying.

Oregon timeout, 1:45 to go ... Kent and his assistants are taking forever to diagram a play. He finally sits down on one of those little chairs -- which, may, I just say how ridiculous it is that they can't even walk to their BENCH, teams have to meet in the key -- and is drawing something up. He's talking a lot to Taylor, so maybe it's for him?

My money is on either Taylor or Brooks. Stay tuned.

Spokane: Big Bryce

Don't know if you heard, but Bryce Taylor from Oregon was HUGE in the Pac-10 tourney, going 11-for-11 (a record) in the championship game. And he just showed a little of that again, hitting a 3 witht he shot clock winding down after a Brooks drive.

Make it two in a row for Taylor. Ducks lead 54-46. Those two 3's will probably pull Miami out of its zone. Oregon, meanwhile, should go back to a zone, I think. They are too undersized inside to consistently play man to man. They also rotate a lot better in zone.

3:56 to go. So there's an Oregon fan sitting midcourt, about seven rows up and he keeps trying to get on TV, waving and stuff. He's wearing an ESPN shirt though and therefore, it's never going to happen.

Spokane: O, look at those braces

So all the Oregon players on the floor right now have special Oregon ankle braces. They have the university logo on them ... talk about school spirit.

School spirit, Phil Knight single-handedly funding everything from your ankle braces to your mouthguards to your lunchboxes ... it's the same thing, right?

Ducks lead 44-38 with 10:15 to go.

Spokane: Miami hanging around

Miami just won't go away. Brooks pulled up and was fouled, so Ducks lead by three, but the Redhawks will surely answer. Oregon doesn't seem to be playing with a huge sense of urgency though, and maybe that's a good thing. In the past this is the point where the Ducks would start to fall apart and snap at each other and before you know it, they'd be down by 20.

I'm sitting next to Jerry Allen and Jay Allen, (I know, right?) the radio guys for Oregon and I guess they're good friends with the Duck mascot, whose name I am unsure of. He just came over, shook his head in shock/disgust, made some weird quacking noise, got a high-five and left. I'm not sure what it all meant.

I will say this about Miami: if the Hawks keep sticking around, Oregon could be in a bit of trouble just because Kent is not the best at making in-game changes and adjustments. He's a hell of a recruiter and a good one-on-one coach, but late game situations make most Duck fans nervous. But we've still got 11:52 to play, so maybe I should just shut up and eat my popcorn.

Spokane: And we're back

Alright halftime is too short. And they're out of ice cream! But I digress -- halftime could be a bit longer so all of us bloggers could catch a breath. I'm on my own here, huh?

Porter opens the second with a 3 ... Miami answers inside. They got the stats to us a lot faster this game and it threw off my gameplan. Anyway, the Ducks shot just 1-for-8 from the arc, with Brooks going 0-for-3. Brooks led them with seven points though, and also dished out two assists. Oregon turned the ball over just three times, which is always good. Miami was led by Michael Bramos who had 11. And he just scored again.

32-29 Ducks. I think by the eight minute mark, Oregon will start to pull away. I was talking to the Ducks beat writer from The Oregonian, John Hunt, and he said he thinks Kent should just leave the ball in Brooks' hands.

Considering Brooks just made a nice move to the hoop and got the and one, I'm with Hunt.

Spokane: Halftime

That was a freshman mistake. Miami got the rebound (Oregon couldn't get a good shot with that stickler Redhawk D) and with eight seconds left on the clock Alex Moosemann, a freshman, launched a half-court shot. Time was not exactly running out. Oregon got the ball back again, but didn't score. 25-22 at half. Stats will be on their way in approximately ... 13 minutes.

Ah, the dance teams are back in full force. What crazy, sparkly outfits the Miami team has. Oregon cheerleaders just did their halftime routine. It's kind of well known throughout the Oregon media that the Ducks cheerleaders are not exactly, uh, conservative.

Quite the combo of music for the Miami dance team.

Spokane: Not in my house

I'm sure it's happened to Porter a lot -- he's pretty small, so even when he's out on a breakaway layup and gets a big guy up in the air, he runs the risk of getting swatted. And it happened.

Miami has hit a few 3's and is finding its rhythm again. Oregon has gone cold, but that's kind of always been the way the Ducks do things: They run and run and run and then have dry spells. They still lead 25-22 with 37.7 seconds left in the half, but they need to score on this next possession to give themselves some breathing room. Also it would benefit them to rebound the ball defensively.

Spokane: Alley-oop

Brooks just threw a sick alley-oop to Luenen, who jamed it down for an 18-9 Oregon lead. Everyone could see it coming, too: it was a 2-on-2 break, Luenen pointed his finger toward the basket and Brooks lofted a pass up there. Taylor just jammed on, too, off an inbounds pass. 20-zip run for the Ducks. Miami called a timeout, but Oregon shows no signs of slowing down. Taylor came out of the huddle with a huge smile on his face.

20-9 with 7:54 to go.

So, interesting fact about Kent and his family: Kent's son, Jordan, was a three-sport athlete at UO, playing football (which he had never played in high school), basketball and running on the track team. He's focusing on just football now, getting ready for the NFL. Kent's other son, Marcus, used to be the manager on the basketball team and Kent's youngest, a daughter MacKenzie, is on the Oregon dance team. Talk about a family affair.

Spokane: Ducks' pond

I'm willing to bet (say, five dollars, because remember, I'm a poor college kid) that Oregon brought the most fans up here. There's a lot of green and yellow around this arena. At the very least, I'm sure they brought the most students. It's only about an eight hour drive from Eugene to Spokane, and roadtrips are fun. Also, there's this: Oregon's new AD, John Kilkeny -- who has VERY deep pockets -- bought tickets and chartered a bus for 55 UO students to come watch. Nice guy, eh?

Oregon's running a 2-3 zone to compensate for lack of size, but Miami has pretty much figured out how to get shots against it. They're overloading one side and taking the weakside post to set a screen on the low forward. Then they skip the ball over and the forward can't get to it. This results in an open shot, but Miami needs to knock it down. Oregon, on the other hand, needs to stay on top of that post so they won't get beat back door but can also get to that skip pass.

Ducks lead 10-9 with 11:30 to play.

Nevada and Creighton to OT?! Eric, I'm jealous!

Spokane: Oscar nomination

What an acting job by Taylor for Oregon. Miami's St. Clair wasn't even making a move when Taylor started to fall back. He added a grunt for extra effect and it worked. St. Clair got charged with the foul and Oregon gets the ball back.

Ducks didn't score a field goal until 16:01, but Luenen got them on the board with two free throws. 9-4, Miami but Oregon looks okay. Miami is boarding the ball well and should use their size to go right inside (Oregon isn't so big on the block).

I'm trying to find Phil Knight, but he's somewhere up in a suite.

Brooks just made a move to the basket and got an and one proving yet again (at least in my opinion) that he should have been the Pac-10 POY, not Afflalo.

Spokane: Oregon scoreless

Seems the Redhawks came to play. It's 9-0 Miami and Oregon coach Ernie Kent has just called a timeout to talk it over with the Ducks. He doesn't look too mad though. I suspect he thinks they just need to work out some jitters. They better do it quickly though. 17:34 to play. I just returned from the post-game press conf, so I haven't seen all that's been happening. I did see UO's Porter miss a 3, but that's it.

Ducks don't look rattled though. Then again, neither does Miami.

Spokane: Finally, an upset

This is the best part, when all the winning players come over to point at their fans and thank them for coming. They also take the opportunity to ham it up for the TV cameras. Final was 74-64.

Oregon and Miami are taking the floor now. Here's what you need to know about each team: Miami (Ohio) won their conf. tourney on an unbelievable bank 3, so you know they're riding high on emotion.

Oregon is playing its best basketball of the season and absolutely dominated the Pac-10 tourney. Everyone is finally healthy for the Ducks and they're stoked to be back in the NCAA tourney with a shot a going pretty deep. They want to equal or outdo the last Oregon team to go deep, back when the Lukes (Ridnour and Jackson, that is) and Freddie Jones ran the show. That team went all the way to the Elite Eight and was so much fun to watch. Oregon will be successful in this game and in the tourney if they stick with their fast tempo and Porter, the stud freshman, plays like he did in the Pac-10 Tourney. (He was named the MVP.) It shouldn't be a very good game. But in March, that usually means it will be.

Off to post game press conferences.

Spokane: TV topple

Craig Bradshaw just got a dunk on a Winthrop break and came down screaming and celebrating. Then he took out the the CBS TV guy sitting on the baseline.

Also, the Winthrop managers just chest-bumped. Niether of them are in particularly good shape and both are dressed in suits. You can imainge.

Winthrop leads 71-64 and is at the line again ... And hey, they made them both! I think that brings their second half count to 4-for-13. That bad, and they're still going to win this game.

It's crazy to think in 18.9 seconds, three ND players' careers are over. For some of them, this is probably the last time they will ever put on a jersey. And that's why March Madness can break your heart.

Spokane: Riding the freshmen

It seems the Irish frosh looked up "Anthony, Carmelo" when deciding how to play in their first NCAA tourney. Irish just took the lead on a basket by Harangody inside, who got the and 1. (I'll let you guess if he missed the FT or not.) Winthrop came back and hit a shot inside, so the Eagles now lead 64-63.

Make it 67. 1:18 to go.

Spokane: A game of runs

We've got a ballgame here, folks.

Kurz just fouled out. Winthrop is smart, going inside every time. Speaking of its coaching staff, the guy in the pinstriped suit on the Eagles' bench looks like he's going to throw up. A minute ago he was crawling on all fours trying to tell the defense where to drop. It was interesting.

61-58 Winthrop with 3:58 to play. Good news for the Eagles: ND isn't hitting free throws either, so they'll have to make them earn their points the hard way. Carter has made some sweet moves to the basket the last few possessions, using his thick upper body to take hits when he drives. If he keeps doing that, the Irish could pull this off even without Kurz. But they need to keep it within two with two minutes to go and can't afford to just trade baskets.

The Winthrop cheerleaders were just chanting, "Junk-yard-dogs!" I'm confused.

Spokane: Foul trouble for Irish

Kurz just picked up his fourth foul on a Winthrop break. He's off to the bench for a few minutes.

And the Eagles finally hit something from the charity stripe.

Jackson the studly frosh hit a big 3 out of that timeout and the Irish just went inside. 55-49 ... this is getting the to the point where I would bite my nails if I were a Winthrop fan. Especially because THEY SUCK AT THE FOUL LINE RIGHT NOW. Goodness. If they win this game, it is not going to be because of free throw percentage.

And now it's 56-52 with 6:17 to play after another big 3.

Spokane: ND gaining ground

Notre Dame is mounting a little bit of a comeback right now. Winthrop hasn't scored in awhile (they had a chance at the line but missed the front end of a one-and-one) and the Irish are playing a lot tougher defense. They've also thrown the ball away a few times, which hasn't helped after playing this good defense to force a turnover.

Hmm ... weird call in front of the ND bench against the Irish. I thought Jackson had swiped a steal cleanly, but they blew the whistle. Doesn't matter much because the Eagles can't hit a free throw to save thier lives, but still.

Notre Dame is starting to trap in the corners a little more and it's forcing Winthrop to take a lot of time off the clock then throw up a so-so shot. Media timeout with 7:33 left and I'm sure Marshall's telling his guys "Uh, everyone CALM DOWN. And put the ball inside."

Winthrop has pulled down a few offensive boards this half but hasn't been able to convert much. It's 54-44 ... so ND is on a 10-0 run.

Oh and Carter must have read my blog during his time on the bench because he came back in the game, drove the lane and got a layup. *Pats self on back*

Spokane: Wow.

Winthrop is a bit scary right now. They are doing everything right -- taking charges, moving the ball and going right at ND's Kurz, who can't do much besides back up and hope to not get called for a foul down low.

The big screen is playing a cool puzzle game where you have to guess the former NCAA basketball player ... he graduated in three years with a degree, helped lead UConn to a title ... It's totally Emeka Okafor!

Yesssssssssss, I was right. Where's my prize?

Thank goodness Winthrop is winning this game. My friends were starting to doubt my basketball genius after the disaster yesterday (really, Duke, are you kidding me? And Texas Tech ... come on Bobby! And don't get me started on Gonzaga.) I have Kansas winning it all. Naturally, this means they will lose in the first round. But my friend told me he thinks they'll dominate in the opening round, giving me a glimmer of hope before falling in 32. Super.

Notre Dame is spending a lot of time on the floor, but it's not because of hustle. It's more like, "Oh crap, we just turned the ball over ... we better try to get on that." It's not working very well.

I'm pretty impressed with the Notre Dame freshmen, but Carter really needs to get something done offensively. This is the time of year when your best player is supposed to put you on his back and take you places. Carter's not doing that. He's settling for a lot of outside shots and they're not falling. He needs to get to the line to get his stroke back. But right now he's on the bench so it might be hard to do that.

Winthrop leads 54-34 with 12:12 to go.

Spokane: Stat analysis

The second half just started and they JUST gave us the box score. I'll forgive them because they have good brownies for us.

And just like that, it's 39-28, Eagles. Torrell just hit a 3 after ND's Carter was caught back on his heels. Carter fell backward right into the Eagles' cheerleaders who smirked and motioned for him to get up. Had to be a little embarrassing.

Alright, let's see ... Irish won the battle of the board in the first half, 23-18. They also shot 40 percent from the field but just nine (nine?!) from 3-point land. 1-for-11. Not pretty. Winthrop shot 40 and 35 from the field and 3-point, though they had a pretty rough dry spell. Pretty even on turnovers ... Kurz for ND was in foul trouble most of the first half, so if he can keep his hands to himself this half things could go better for the Irish. But first they have to play some defense.

39-28, 18:16 to play.

Spokane: Halftime

Told ya so.

I knew Winthrop was playing uncharacteristically -- they now lead 32-28 after two consecutive 3's from McCullough. Eagles have momentum going into the locker room, and that's gotta worry the Irish.

"It's the grey-haired ref! What are you, Mike Brey's half brother?"

That was from our same fan who earlier proclaimed her affection for a certain ref's body. Anyway, I'm thinking they're not half-brothers, as it was the grey-haired ref who called ND's Kurz for his third foul right before half. If they are half-brothers, I'm thinking the ref will be taken off the Christmas card list stat, because it was a pretty lame call.

I'll be back with stats in a few minutes. Right now I'm going to go inspect the food spread they have ... mmm, brownies for lunch.

Spokane: 26 all

And just like that, it's tied up. Winthrop took a charge, went down to the other end and scored inside, then they grabbed a steal and hit a 3 and Martin just hit a spinning layup to tie it up at 26 with 2:43 left. Martin already has 9 points.

Brey called a timeout pretty quickly, probably to tell his guys to body the cutter through the middle to let the refs know, again, that they missed a foul on the other end. It's true, too. Jackson got hit pretty hard driving the lane and Winthrop kinda tried to take his arm off grabbing the loose ball. Evidently we are playing by the no blood, no foul rule.

Spokane: Winthrop has had better shooting days

Irish are getting a bit of a comfortable lead, up 24-17 right now. Winthrop can't hit much, inside or out. Torrell Martin just tried to do a reverse layup but it didn't pan out. This is probably because first he did a 360 in the air. It's hard to finish a shot after you've spun in a complete circle, I'd imagine.

Williams for Winthrop just got called for holding in the post and a Winthrop assist jumped up off the bench and thundered, "Dammit, Phil, keep your hands off him!!!" Fouls are pretty even (Winthrop 5, ND 4), but the Eagles can't afford to lose starters with the way they're struggling right now.

Spokane: Rejection

Taj McCullough, a junior who comes off the bench for Winthrop, just rejected a shot by ND's frosh Jackson. We're talking a real swat. And McCullough is wearing No. 31, so maybe he was channeling my favorite No. 31 of all time, Shane Battier, who blocked a few shots and played some defense of his own at Duke.

Things are starting to get a little rough on the inside, but the refs called an offensive foul almost right away, so I expect the ticky-tack pushing to stop.

Carter just had a thunderous two-handed dunk off an ND steal. (Come on, Winthrop guards, you should know better than to be throwing over the top of some 6-foot-6 guy in a press.) Brey just grabbed Carter as players went to a timeout to talk with him about his shot, because he's missed two threes and is pouting a little. I suspect his self-confidence is back up after that jam, though.

15-12, Irish with 11:35 left in the half.

Spokane: Fabulous freshmen

Mike Brey is taller in person than he looks on TV.

Gregg Marshall, the Winthrop coach, is yelling out a series of numbers "44! 32! 45!" what I can only imagine are defenses.

Phillip Williams from Winthrop just made a sweet reverse layup to put the Eagles up, 5-4. He can also jump REALLY high to get rebounds.

On the other end, the ND frosh are playing okay, but a little nervous. I'm telling you, that's going to be the difference in this game: in the NCAA tourney, freshmen either step up big time (see Anthony, Carmelo) or choke and can't hit a shot (see Redick, JJ). They are definitely the x-factor for the Irish.

A Winthrop fan just yelled to the refs, "Your body looks good baby, but you gotta call the offensive foul!" Ummm ... who is she talking to? She is a young woman and the refs are uh, not young. Whatever, I'm not here to judge.

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