March 17, 2007

Winston-Salem: That's A Wrap

People talk a lot about the necessity of good guard play in the NCAA tournament, but front courts played major roles in both games here in Winston-Salem today. After Georgetown big men Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green each notched double-doubles in the first game, UNC got a huge 33-point day from Tyler Hansbrough and 14 more from senior forward Reyshawn Terry in the nightcap.

"People talk about guards, and you have to have guards, but you need some inside scoring," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "If that comes from Tyler Hansbrough or Sean May a couple of years ago, or from Tywon Lawson penetrating to the basket, you need to be able to attack the basket."

Both Hansbrough and Terry overcame injury-related issues to come up huge for UNC. Hansbrough discarded the mask protecting his broken nose early in the game and scored 15 of his 19 first-half points after making the switch. He said the mask was frustrating him by making his face sweat.

"I think it's just one of those things like a little bee around your face and you're trying to slap it away and it wont go away," Hansbrough said. "I'm not sure that's the best analogy. ... The point is I just don't like a mask being on my face when I play, so I took it off."

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Winston-Salem: Down In Front

It looks like North Carolina is on its way to the Sweet 16, but the always-passionate Roy Williams is still fired up. The UNC coach just pounded his fist on the scorer's table and ranted to no one in particular, "Why doesn't the tournament committee tell those damn referees they've got enough to worry about without worrying about who's standing up on the bench? We're trying to win championship games, and the referees want people to sit down."

Final score: North Carolina 81, Michigan State 67. Hansbrough finishes with a game-high 33 points, though Neitzel gave him a run for his money, finishing with 26.

Winston-Salem: Hoosier Daddy?

Just noticed the score in the Indiana-UCLA game: with 13 minutes left, the Hoosiers have just 20 points. That begs the question: who will score more points tonight, Indiana or Tyler Hansbrough? I might have to bet on Hansbrough, who has a season-high 31.

Consecutive jumpers by Reyshawn Terry just gave the Tar Heels a 73-65 lead, and Drew Neitzel airballed a 3-pointer on the other end. Now Terry heads to the free-throw line with a chance to make it a double-digit lead.

Winston-Salem: 'Watch Those Lines'

Roy Williams took advantage of the relative quiet during a pair of North Carolina free throws, issuing a gentle rebuke of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "Tom, watch those lines," Williams yelled to Izzo, referring to the coaches' box that Izzo had crossed. Izzo grinned and nodded his head.

Meanwhile, Ty Lawson nailed a huge 3-pointer from way out to give UNC a 67-61 lead with under five minutes to play.

Winston-Salem: Foul Trouble For Spartans

Michigan State picked up its 10th team foul at the 6:54 mark, so it's the double-bonus from here on out for the Tar Heels. Four Spartans have four personal fouls: Marquise Gray, Travis Walton and (most recently) Goran Suton.

Winston-Salem: Oh, What A Neitzel

Let's see how many puns on Drew Neitzel's name we can make tonight. As well as he's playing tonight, I'm sure there's a couple more on the way. Michigan State's senior guard just made a huge basket, silencing an extremely loud UNC crowd that had just been energized by a pair of Tyler Hansbrough free throws that gave the Tar Heels a 58-57 lead. It felt like momentum was starting to swing UNC's way, but Neitzel delivered a beautiful floating runner off the glass to quiet things down.

Winston-Salem: Crashing The Boards

Michigan State quickly erased its eight-point halftime deficit, and with 9:34 remaining the score is tied at 54. After getting outrebounded 21-14 in the first half, the Spartans have been much better on the boards in the second half, outrebounding North Carolina 10-9. We just saw a big example of how important offensive rebounding can be, as Raymar Morgan missed a 3-pointer but MSU got the offensive board and kicked it out to an open Drew Neitzel for a trey.

Winston-Salem: 'Where Is Jordan?'

During the last TV timeout, the video board showed a montage of Michael Jordan's highlights from his North Carolina days. The Michigan State fans responded by chanting, "Where is Jordan? Where is Jordan?" Moments later, they chanted, "Mag-ic John-son. Mag-ic John-son." Johnson acknowledged the cheer with a smile and a sheepish wave.

Apparently Jordan doesn't show up until the Final Four.

Winston-Salem: The Wright Price

Michigan State has come out of halftime rejuvenated, going on a 7-2 run. The more significant development might have been UNC forward Brandan Wrightpicked up his third personal at the 18:46 mark. Roy Williams decided to leave him in the game. I guess you can do stuff like that when you legitimately go 12 deep.

Speaking of depth, the Spartans only go eight deep, so you have to wonder whether fatigue will be a factor down the stretch, particularly with the fast pace of this game.

Winston-Salem: Spartans Stuck

The first half came to a close on a strange note. After Michigan State's Drew Neitzel missed a jumper, the ball got wedged between the rim and the backboard as both teams battled for the rebound, and there it remained as the buzzer sounded and both teams went to their locker roms. That seemed an appropriate way for the Spartans to finish the half, because their offense was similarly stuck. MSU did not score in the final two minutes, as UNC built a 41-33 lead at the intermission.

Keep an eye on Hansbrough in the second half. He already has 19 points and could make a run at his career high of 40, set last year against Georgia Tech.

Winston-Salem: Ol' Roy's Steaming Mad

Roy Williams just lit into sophomore forward Danny Green for botching the defense of a pick and roll. Green accidentally picked Ty Lawson, causing the smaller guard to fall to the floor. Williams got so animated that he appeared to suffer a brief dizziness spell, falling to a crouch with his head in his hands. He recovered in time to chew Green out further Green returned to the bench at the next whistle.

Meanwhile, Tyler Hansbrough has scored six of UNC's last eight points, helping the Tar Heels build a 39-33 lead with 26 seconds left in the half. Hansbrough leads all scorers with 17 points so far.

Winston-Salem: The Magic Hour

Former Michigan State great Magic Johnson is in attendance this evening. The Hall of Famer just got a nice standing ovation from the Michigan State and North Carolina fans during a TV timeout.

Winston-Salem: Good Neitzel

Guard Drew Neitzel has carried the Michigan State offense so far, scoring 11 of MSU's 26 points and making three 3-pointers. The Tar Heels had trouble guarding him with Ty Lawson and Wes Miller, so Roy Williams turned to defensive stopper Marcus Ginyard. With Ginyard in his face, Neitzel missed his next two jumpers, then got a short breather. With the Spartans trailing 36-27, Tom Izzo decided his team needed an offensive spark, so Neitzel just checked back into the game.

Winston-Salem: Miller Time

Interesting sequence, as UNC senior forward Reyshawn Terry loped down the court, oblivious to an outlet pass aimed at him, and UNC coach Roy Williams immediately replaced him with Wes Miller at the next whistle. Terry is prone to occasional lapses of concentration, but Miller is usually very locked in. Shortly thereafter, Miller dove on the floor for a loose ball and drew a foul from Jacob Hannon, capping an exciting back-and-forth minute and causing nearly all the fans in Joel Coliseum to rise to their feet and yell. I take back my earlier comparison to the Dean Dome; that building very rarely gets as electric as Joel Coliseum has gotten on a number of occasions tonight.

Winston-Salem: Hansbrough Unmasked

UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough is playing without a mask for the first time since breaking his nose against Duke in UNC's regular-season finale, but he doesn't appear to have any hesitation in the paint. He already has eight points for the Tar Heels and just earned a trip to the free-throw line by battling for a layup, getting his own offensive rebound and putting up another layup, drawing the foul. UNC got three offensive rebounds on that trip down the court and holds a 9-3 advantage on the boards so far.

Winston-Salem: Intensity High Early

The nightcap in Winston-Salem has picked up where the Georgetown-Boston College game left off, as far as intensity is concerned. North Carolina and Michigan State are going at each other with some vigor in the first few minutes. We've already seen UNC's Reyshawn Terry tumble over the press table (and call in vain for a foul) and a minor tussle on the baseline in the first minute. Coming out of the first TV timeout, both teams came out gunning, as the Tar Heels made three 3-pointers and the Spartans drilled two, all in a two-minute span. UNC has the upper hand at the moment, 17-14.

Winston-Salem: Here Comes Carolina

Joel Coliseum feels more like the Dean Smith Center as we get ready for the nightcap. North Carolina just took the court to a thunderous ovation, and Michigan State was loudly booed as it emerged from the tunnel a minute later. There aren't too many green shirts to be seen in the stands.

Winston-Salem: Exclamation Point

BC cut the deficit to four with a minute remaining, but Georgetown put down the comeback attempt with authority. Roy Hibbert drew a double-team in the lane and found Patrick Ewing Jr. on the baseline for a reverse dunk and a foul. What a way to seal the game. Final score: Georgetown 62, Boston College 55.

With his final collegiate game in the books, BC's Jared Dudley exchanged a hug and a few words with Georgetown coach John Thompson III. Dudley put forth a yeoman's effort in the loss, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, eight rebounds and four steals.

Winston-Salem: That Could Be The Dagger

Trailing by three points in the final two minutes, Boston College appeared to get a key defensive stop, as Jessie Sapp's runner was off the mark and John Oates grabbed the rebound for the Eagles. But Georgetown's Jeff Green ripped the ball out of Oates' hands and laid it in, drawing a foul from Oates in the process. He made the free throw to give Georgetown a six-point lead that will be hard to overcome.

Winston-Salem: Paging Dr. Hibbert

Roy Hibbert has taken over this game for Georgetown down the stretch. It's clear Boston College has no answer for the 7-foot-2 behemoth, who has scored Georgetown's last six points and eight of its last 13. The last two - a dunk and a spinning layup - both beat the shot-clock buzzer. Georgetown holds a one-point lead with 3:11 to play. This is getting fun.

Winston-Salem: Mean Jeff Green

Georgetown forward Jeff Green just electrified the Joel Coliseum crowd with a vicious follow-up dunk in traffic, giving the Hoyas a four-point lead with seven minutes to play. Easily the most athletic play of the day.

On BC's next trip down the court, Jared Dudley and Jessie Sapp got in each other's faces and were assessed a pair of technical fouls. The intensity of this game is picking up.

Winston-Salem: Ewing For 3?

The pace has picked up in Winston-Salem over the past few minutes, as BC regained the lead with four quick points, and Georgetown answered with a 3-pointer by Patrick Ewing from the right corner. That's something Georgetown fans probably didn't read too often back in the 80s.

Winston-Salem: Hoyas Storm Back

Georgetown just took its first lead since the seven-minute mark in the first half. A pair of free throws by Roy Hibbert put the Hoyas up 41-39, capping a 10-0 run that included four points from guard Jonathan Wallace. That Wallace-Tyrese Rice matchup has been the story of the game thus far.

Winston-Salem: Sizzling Rice

Boston College has turned an early 12-2 deficit into a 30-26 lead at halftime, thanks largely to the stellar shooting of sophomore guard Tyrese Rice. Rice leads all scorers with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting (2-of-3 from long range), and both of his 3-pointers were shot-clock beaters from way downtown. A couple of things to keep an eye on in the second half: Will Boston College attack Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green inside? Hibbert and Green, Georgetown's two leading scorers this season, each picked up their second personal fouls with more than 12 minutes to go in the first half, and both played extended stretches thereafter without picking up a third foul. BC forward John Oates has lived on the perimeter today like he has most of this season, but the Eagles might think about feeding the ball into him, or posting up Jared Dudley, in the second half. Of course, Oates and Rice also have two personals at the half.

One other thing to watch: Which side will the predominantly Carolina blue-clad crowd support down the stretch? With the exception of the vocal but small contingents of Georgetown and BC fans on opposite sides of the arena, the largely pro-North Carolina crowd has been fairly quiet, supporting neither ACC brethren Boston College or Georgetown. We'll see if one side or the other wins over the fans in the second half.

Winston-Salem: Bombs Away

Boston College has drawn even with Georgetown at 19-19 inside the eight-minute mark, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers from BC's big three. Jared Dudley started the barrage with a trey from the right wing, and Sean Marshall followed with a banked 3 from the left wing. Tyrese Rice capped the flurry with a mid-range jumper and then a long trey off a pick from Dudley with four seconds on the shot clock. Rice's quickness presents a tough matchup for the Hoyas, and if he's making his outside shots then he's very difficult for anyone to guard.

Winston-Salem: Wallace Has The Hot Hand

After a good press meal highlighted by a nice salmon (much better than the media meal the last time I covered an NCAA tournament in 2004), I'm ready to go here in Winston-Salem, and so is Georgetown. The Hoyas came out of the gates on fire, sparked by six quick points from junior guard Jonathan Wallace, and built a 12-2 lead at the first TV timeout. Wallace has used his quickness to create scoring opportunities in the early going, driving from the corner for a layup and getting open for a perimeter jumper. It will be interesting to see how BC adjusts defensively.

Winston-Salem: Rivarly Renewed

This might be the heart of ACC country, but Saturday's first game in Winston-Salem has a distinct Big East flavor. The throw-back-the-clock affair between Georgetown and Boston College will even feature a player named Patrick Ewing, though Michael Adams is long gone from Boston College, and the Ewing in question is the son of the Hoya legend of the same name. And even though BC is now in the ACC, the Eagles and Hoyas have a long history from their Big East days. They've met 70 times before, with Georgetown holding a 43-27 advantage in the series but Boston College having won the last two meetings, including a 64-49 decision in 2004-05. That was Boston College's final year in the Big East, and it was John Thompson III's first year at Georgetown.

"The way the schedule worked out that season, we only played them once," Thompson said in Friday's press conference. "It's not like me and my group has a long, storied history of playing against Boston College. Georgetown obviously does, but the way they go about their business still has a Big East feel to it."

The hostilities will be renewed at 5:45 p.m.

March 16, 2007

Winston-Salem: Thursday's Gone

For all the potential the games in Winston-Salem had to offer, none of them were all that exciting. Texas Tech-Boston College had the looks of a classic for a while, but Tech forgot how to score for a few minutes towards the end and that ultimately killed their chances. Of the other three contests, none were very close though Eastern Kentucky deserves credit for getting within four when they looked dead to rights in the first half against North Carolina.

We now have two fantastic matchups for Saturday though, with BC taking on Georgetown in a battle of two of the Big East's original teams and Michigan State battling Carolina in a rematch of the 2005 Final Four.

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March 15, 2007

Winston-Salem: What If?

You hate to ask yourself that question in a game like this because who knows how things would have developed had Eastern Kentucky come out a little stronger. However, had they been able to do so it could have made things a lot more interesting.

They clearly found a formula for scoring on Carolina, and the fact that Roy Williams left Marcus Ginyard (his best perimeter defender) on the floor for most of the second half in response to Adam Leonard's explosion is the ultimate sign of respect.

Unfortunately for the Colonels, they just dig themselves to deep of a hole. Don't get me wrong, Carolina would still probably have won but it is a shame that they got down 27 points so early. It is still amazing that they were able to cut it to four points though.

Reyshawn Terry just hit consecutive jumpers to make ti 79-58 Carolina with 4:13 left.

Winston-Salem: They Have A Pulse

After sleepwalking for the last 20 minutes of play, Carolina has shown a pulse in getting their lead back up to nine points at 55-46. It was hard to imagine an hour ago that they would have needed the crowd to pump them up, but that is essentially what happened as they went on a 7-0 run.

Carolina also got the benefit of Adam Leonard, Eastern Kentucky's leading scorer, limping of the court with what look like cramps. As if Carolina needed any breaks in this game.

Winston-Salem: 20 More Minutes

We are at halftime and the Tar Heels lead 47-35, which is pretty bad when you consider they were up 39-12 with 8:46 left. The EKU guard combo of Adam Leonard and Mike Rose have kept the Colonels breathing as the team's top two scorers have 11 apiece. If they want to get any closer, EKU will need to do a better job on their boards as they have been outrebounded 20-9.

Carolina has been paced on offense by Tyler Hansbrough's 11 and six while Ty Lawson has 10 points and four assists.

EKU has to feel pretty good about the fact that Carolina shot 67 percent and they are only down 12. What they should not feel good about is the fact they allowed a team to shoot 67 percent.Win

Winston-Salem: It's Time

I was tempted to call this one for the Tar Heels during the last post, but I decided to give Eastern Kentucky a few more minutes. It is now 26-8 Carolina at the under-12 TV timeout and it is time to call it for Carolina.

EKU just has no answers, but you can't really blame them. Carolina has the most talent of any team in college basketball and to this point it just looks like them warming up for Michigan State.

Winston-Salem: Down In Front

A media relations woman working for the NCAA stepped in front of the TV, and it appeared as though the fans behind me might ambush her. She had no idea she was blocking their view, but they were not pleased. She stepped out of the way in time to see Greg Paulus miss a last-second attempt for Duke, so all is well that ends well.

They are announcing final scores and the building has gone hush, waiting for the Duke score. I know Duke has lost, and now the rest of the Coliseum does too.

I can't imagine there being a cheer as loud as the one we just heard for the rest of the night.

Winston-Salem: Call The Coroner

We are under a minute to go and the Spartans lead 55-43. The only excitment in the building right now is the fans waiting for them to post another Duke score on the Jumbotron. I can see a TV so I know that VCU just took a one point lead with 1:56 to go. Every Duke score has been greeted with an intense reaction so this should be good.

The crowd just went beserk, and it was not Dominic James just hit a three-pointer to make it 57-49.

Winston-Salem: Not Over Yet

When Marquise Gray made two free throws to make it 37-20 Michigan State with 18:28 remaining, it looked like the beginning of the end for Marquette. The Golden Eagles answered with a 7-0 run to keep it interesting, and now trail 40-27 with 13:19 on the clock.

The most notable aspect of that run is that it included two two-point buckets, including a driving lay-up for Dominic James. It was the first effective dribble penetration all night for Marquette whose guards have been shut down by Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Travis Walton.

Winston-Salem: I Hope Paul Simon Is Getting Royalties

It is now the third game of the day and I think I have heard "You Can Call Me Al" from every single pep band. I am not necessarily opposed to this, but I didn't realize it had become such a pep band staple.

Winston-Salem: Unfortunate

Michigan State center Idong Ibok fell hard on his left elbow after fighting for a rebound and he appears to be in great pain. His screams were audible throughout the arena and he was pounding on the floor with his right hand. The Nigerian native did walk off under his own power and headed to the locker room.

Winston-Salem: Thanks For Coming Out

Marquette should thank their lucky stars that David Cubillan decided to show up. the Venezuelan has the Golden Eagles' only two field goals, a pair of triples from the left corner, and they trail 20-9.

Raymar Morgan has looked locked in for Michigan State with an early baseline drive for a slam, a slashing layup and a long jumper off a curl from the right wing. The Spartans have been very patient on offense and thought it has not always been pretty, it has been pretty effective.

Winston-Salem: On Pace For A Record

We are at the first TV timeout, and with 15:29 remaining in the first half Michigan State leads Marquette 6-0. If this keeps up the Spartans will win about 48-0. I am pretty sure there has never been a shutout in NCAA tournament history before, so this is worth paying attention to.

Marquette looks ugly on offense with Dominic James already turning the ball over twice and forward Dwight Burke missing two free throws and an open lay-up.

Winston-Salem: Big East Classic

With Georgetown taking care of Belmont 80-55, it sets up a Saturday afternoon showdown with Boston College with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. It's a matchup of two of the Big East's original two teams, with BC having fled for the ACC after the 2005 season.

It was a move that upset a lot of coaches at the time, with Connecticut's Jim Calhoun going so far as to say he would never schedule BC again. Georgetown coach John Thompson III does not feel so strongly.

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Winston-Salem: Sapp Is Rising

Georgetown guard Jessie Sapp is setting all sorts of career highs today. With a driving layup at the 3:35 mark, he now has 18 points which tops his previous best of 16. He also has four three-pointers, with his previous high being three. Both of his previous best were set against Villanova on February 17.

He just scored again to make it 20 and the Georgetown section is now chanting his name.

Winston-Salem: Roy, Roy, Roy

Hibbert just scored his 10th point and now has a double-double with 11:27 remaining and Georgetown leading 53-30. His dominance has prompted the Georgetown section to start chanting, "Roy, Roy Roy Roy, Roy Roy Roy" to the tune of the opening notes of "Eye of the Tiger."

Jeff Green got two early fouls and only played 10 minutes in the first half and has not played at all so far in the second. At this point it seems clear that John Thompson III realizes that the Hoyas have this game won and sees it as an opportunity to give Green rest. They are slated to play Boston College on Saturday in the second round and he will probably spend most of the afternoon matched up with Jared Dudley. He is going to need the energy.

Wait, I spoke too soon. He is coming back in the game but I can't imagine for that long.

Winston-Salem: "Big Roy, Big!"

There is a woman seated right behind press row who continues to scream, "Big Roy, Big," at Hibbert every time someone is posting him up. When she isn't doing that, she is riding the referees for perceived slights against Georgetown.

I am not here to tell people how to root, but when you are rooting for Georgetown against Belmont, referees should probably not be your concern.

The Hoys have opened the second half with an 8-4 run and have extended their lead to 17 points. Hibbert is most certainly playing big, grabbing offensive rebounds and putting them back with ease.

Winston-Salem: Reunited At Last!

When I was about 15-years-old, I went to the orthodontist to get some work done on my braces. Though I lived in New York, my orthodontist was in New Jersey and this was in the mid-1990s, when the Knicks were a big deal.

There were two chairs in the main room and I sat in one as my orthodontist worked on a kid a few years younger than me in the other chair. When she was done with the other boy, she came over to me with an excited look on her face and said, "that's Patrick Ewing Jr.!" She knew I was a big sports fan so she knew I would think it was cool, but she was definitely a little too excited. Patrick and I chatted for a few minutes and he was a really nice kid as I recall.

He got two quick fouls in the first half of this game, and he has two points and three boards for the Hoyas.

Winston-Salem: Big Country Redux

If you've been a fan of college basketball for more than 10 years, you can't look at Belmont's Boomer Herndon and not think of Bryan "Big Country" Reeves, who led Oklahoma State to the Final Four in 1995.

From the flat-top haircut to the large but undefined arms, it is all there. At 6-feet-10, 255 pounds, he is the only Bruin who does not look like a child next to Roy Hibbert.

Also, they just showed a picture of Christian Laettner on the jumbotron in regards to the NCAA Top 100. I am guessing it refers to the top 100 players. I am not sure, but the photo got heartily booed.

Winston-Salem: Sizeable Advantage

With Georgetown leading Belmont 38-25 at halftime, what's most noticeable about this matchup is the difference in size. It's not surprising that Georgetown is bigger, but their players are also so much more muscular. Seeing them on the court with Belmont has a definite "man against boys" feel to it and that difference is most evident on the boards, where the Hoyas have a 21-10 advantage at the break.

In order to pull off an upset of this magnitude, you need a lot of breaks and you need to execute what you can control. The fact that Belmont is shooting 4-for-9 from the foul line is killing their chances. The player most culpapble is forward Andrew Herndon, who is 3-for-7. Their most effective player to this point is Henry Harris, who has 7 points on 3-of-3 shooting to go with two offensive rebounds and two defensive.

Winston-Salem: Pushing Back

With Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green out of the game for the Hoyas, Belmont has pushed back a little to cut the Hoyas' lead to 32-23. Henry Harris hit a three for the Bruins Matthew Dotson put back an offensive rebound.

Despite Georgetown's enormous size advantage, they have also been doing a lot of damage from behind the arc with five three-pointers, including three from guard Jesse Sapp who has 11.

Winston-Salem: That Didn't Take Long

At the first TV timeout, it was 11-4 Belmont and the crowd was in a frenzy. We are now at the second TV timeout at the 11:51 mark, and it's now tied at 11. Jeff Green scored six points in the 7-0 Hoya run and capped it off with a dunk off a nifty feed from Roy Hibbert.

The difference in size between these two teams borders on comical.

Winston-Salem: No Neutrality

We are only four minutes in, but the crowd is already going nuts for Belmont. Guard Henry Harris scored two early buckets for the Bruins and forward Matthew Dotson banked home a three-pointer to give them a 9-4 lead over Georgetown at the first TV timeout.

As usual, the crowd wants an upset and they are doing whatever they can to facilitate it.

Winston-Salem: Party Hats And Flip-Flops

Last year, most of the Boston College basketball team (with the exception of Jared Dudley) shaved their heads to show solidarity heading into the NCAA tournament. This year, it is headbands. It has become a tradition for the Eagles and the seniors get to choose what they are going to do. Next year, it is John Oates turn and he has some interesting ideas.

"Party hats and flip-flops," the junior said.

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Winston-Salem: Full Of Rice

When Jared Dudley got into foul trouble, it was point guard Tyrese Rice that made sure the game didn't get away from Boston College. So it was only fittting that Rice was the one to put the game away as the Eagles defeated the Red Raiders 84-75.

The sophomore padded his point total by hitting six free throws to close out the game and stole a Charlie Burgess pass on Texas Tech's last gasp possession. Rice finished with 26 points, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and only one turnover.

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Winston-Salem: The Whole World Is Watching

Neither team's supporters have been particularly vocal so far, but when Darryl Dora went to the line with 3:43 remaining and his team trailing 76-70, the Boston College section started chanting, "The whole world is watching." Not sure if it had an effect, but he missed the first free throw.

Charlie Burgess just scored to cut the BC lead to 78-73 with 90 seconds left.

Winston-Salem: Too Many Turning Points

Every time someone makes a big play, it appears as though it is going to be a turning point that never materializes. First there was Dudley's third foul and then Tech's missed alley-oop. With BC leading 72-70, Jared Dudley hit Tyrese Rice with a gorgeous backdoor pass for an easy deuce, but Rice missed the lay-up. It looked like a huge break for Tech, but he got the rebound and put it back to make it 74-70 Eagles.

The two gentleman affiliated with Tech that are sitting next to me were none too pleased.

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Winston-Salem: Marshall Law

Its been the Sean Marshall show for BC to this point as he just hit back-to-back three to make it 68-62 Tech. He now has 12 points in the second half and 18 in the game. On the other end, Alan Voskul has been doing most of the damage for Tech in the second half. He came into the game average 3.9 per game and he has 10 today.

Martin Zeno just scored and got fouled by Tyrelle Blair in the process. He hit the free throw and it is now 70-68 BC and Marshall just came back to extend the BC lead to four with 6:19 left. Tech's Charlie Burgess just got a bloody nose and the clock is stopped.

Winston-Salem: A Little Too Mellow

I have never sat 20 feet from Bobby Knight during a game before, but I expected a lot more theatrics and to be honest, anger. When you factor in the horrendous defense his team is playing, I am surprised his head has not exploded. The Texas Tech Sports Infortmation Director that is sitting to my left is far more animated.

Is Bobby getting softer with age? I don't know about you, but I think college basketball is a better sport when Knight is going nuts, but we'll see if I feel the same way after the post-game press conference.

Winston-Salem: Backfiring

Al Skinner inserted Jared Dudley back into the game with three minutes left in the half and the move quickly backfired as the ACC player of the year picked up his third foul trying to draw a charge on Martin Zeno.

Dudley has long been known for ability to draw fouls, but the officials are not buying it today. His first foul was a charge and then he picked up two more trying to draw charges. Fortunately, Tyrese Rice and John Oates are picking up the slack.

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Winston-Salem: Rice Is Cooking

We are at the 3:05 mark and BC is up 34-31 even though Jared Dudley has been out for about six minutes with two fouls. Guard Tyrese Rice has been the reason why as the dimunitve lefty has 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Rice has been getting into the lane at will and scoring on a variety of floaters and pull-ups. To this point, Tech has no answer.

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Winston-Salem: Trouble For Dudley

Jared Dudley has just picked up his second foul as he tried to draw a foul on Texas Tech forward Decensae White. It is at the 11:17 mark of the first half and BC leads 16-14.

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Winston-Salem: Are We In Newark?

The reason this question needs to be asked is that to this point, it is brick city here in Winston-Salem. Through 4:31 seconds Boston College leads Texas Tech 3-2. It's hard to judge nerves from press row, but there is no fluidity to this game thus far.

Forward Daryl Dora has been most active for Tech with a couple of offensive boards and their only bucket.

Winston-Salem: Nice Pants, And Other Pregame Thoughts

Indiana has always been known for their candy striped warm-up pants. Apparently, Bobby Knight has taken that tradition with him as Texas Tech is wearing black-and-red striped pants during their shootaround. They are not as aesthically pleasing as the Hoosiers' pants, let's leave it at that.

Like the other Texas schools, Red Raiders fans also have their own hand signal though it is not as famous as Texas' Hook 'Em Horns or Texas A&M's Gig 'Em. At Tech they "get their guns up." If you have not seen it, the best visual is to think of Yosemite Sam. You make a "gun" with each hand, sticking your index finger out and thumb up and you hold them to each side.

Winston-Salem: Flex v. Motion

The Boston College-Texas Tech game is a battle of two traditional offensive sets. BC runs the Flex while Tech runs the Motion, the offense that Bobby Knight has made famous.

We often hear these offenses referred to by name, but do we know how they work? Color commentators are typically too busy congrautlating coaches for smart timeouts to take time to explain how the offenses operate, but I'm here to help.

I could try and explain them both, but it is probably easier to check out the following diagrams. Here is a link to an animation of the Flex and here is one for the basic Motion. These are just examples and each team surely runs variations, but the diagrams give you a glimps of what to look for.

Prior to seeing this, I always associated Flex with the dance song of that name by reggae singer Mad Cobra circa 1992. A hole new world has been opened for me.

March 14, 2007

Winston-Salem: Clash Of The Coaching Titans

When examining the teams scheduled to play in the Winston-Salem regional, the biggest thing that jumps out is the coaching fire power on display. North Carolina's Roy Williams, Texas Tech's Bobby Knight and Michigan State's Tom Izzo have a comined 14 Final Four appearances and five national titles.

Though Knight has three of those titles, his NCAA tournament winning percentage (.640) is a step behind Williams and Izzo, who have a .724 and .742 NCAA tourney winning percentages respecitvely. Should they both win their opening games, it would be a rematch of the 2005 Final Four when the Heels took down the Spartans 87-71.

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