Some thoughts from Day 1 of the tournament:
- Apparently my employer is onto me, because March Madness On Demand now gets blocked by our work web filter. That sure was a sour surprise to discover right at game time yesterday. I guess it’s the yin and yang of new technology.
- Texas lost a really, really tough game and was eliminated in the first round. On the plus side, all their players looked totally ready for the NBA. Mission Accomplished Rick Barnes!
- It is always amazes me how just one guy, with a single really developed skill or trait can absolutely carry a team. I know this happens in all levels of basketball but it really sticks out in the tournament. Brian Qvale of Montana singlehandedly kept his team in the game, with his footwork in the post. Shelvin Mack destroyed UTEP in the second half with his 3-Point shooting. I know he received the benefit of some questionable calls, but Scottie Reynolds got to the paint and the free throw line whenever he wanted. The NBA loves players who can do everything well. It seems like in this tournament you just have to have one thing that you do better than anyone else.
- The guy who impressed me most yesterday, from a draft standpoint, was Al-Farouq Aminu. I hadn’t seen him much this year, and when I had he spend a lot of time on the perimeter, and a lot of time dribbling the ball, trying to prove he was a wing. In the parts of the game I saw last night he was a force on the inside, grabbing tough rebounds, challenging shots, playing smart defense. He is a lot less of a project than I thought.
- Shame on me for not knowing more about Darington Hobson. He finished with 11 pts , 11 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl. Even more impressive though was his presence on the court, smooth and under control. Before he got laid out on his layup attempt and had to sit out for a few, he looked like he could do anything he wanted on the court. The announcers kept comparing him to Evan Turner and I had to agree. He has a similar game and a similar body. I will definitely be tuning in to see what he does against Quincy Pontdexter and Washington.
- Every year I run into a huge quandry getting ready for the tournament. Filling out a bracket is always a balancing act between who I think will win, and who I actually want to find myself rooting for. I hate Michigan St. I’ve hated them since the days of Mateen Cleaves and Mo Pete. But if I want to win my bracket challenge I’ve got to ride them against New Mexico State. Right? I didn’t have too many of these situations yesterday, but I will definitely be feeling a little conflicted rooting for the Spartans, the Seminoles and the Musketeers today.
- I hit 13 out of 16 on my bracket so far, which is the best I have done in a few years. Georgetown and Marquette hurt because I had both of them winning another game. Fingers crossed for today! Good luck everyone! Happy Tournament Friday!