Some thoughts from Day 3 and 4 of the tournament:
- Omar Samhan looked terrific for St. Mary’s. Draftexpress.com doesn’t project him to be selected in either round of the draft. Their profile of him raises some questions about his footspeed, athleticism and ability to guard at the next level. I have to say, having only seen him twice now, he seemed to have no trouble going end to end. He obviously does not have much quickness to switch out on pick and rolls, but he seemed to use his length intelligently and play good positional defense. His profile lists him at 265 lbs, but he looked a little lighter than that to me. Comparing his profile picture to his appearance on TV yesterday would seem to indicate that he has dropped quite a bit of weight. I think he looks like a smart capable back-up big at the next level. He probably played himself into the 2nd round of the draft with his performance this weekend. I will definitely be watching his next game.
- Scottie Reynolds played himself right out of the 2nd round and into an overseas contract. Time to apply for a passport Scottie!
- Kansas, you broke my heart. This seems to happen to me every year. The team I pick to win it all gets upset on the first Saturday of the tournament, effectively blowing up my bracket. I usually pick teams that I really enjoy rooting for, teams that have a much smaller chance of winning it all. This year I relied heavily on the analysis at Basketball Prospectus, and thought I was playing it safe by picking such a heavy favorite.
- I was sad to see Darrington Hobson and New Mexico go out. He was obviously bothered by the wrist injury from Thursday, as he did not look comfortable shooting the ball at all on Saturday. I was still impressed with his all around game and think he is a player to watch in the future.
- A huge kudos goes to Continental Airlines for making my Sunday so terrific. Their new jets have individual television screens in each seat, and for 6 dollars you can watch any DirectTV channel for you entire flight. This meant I caught all of the Syracuse-Gonzaga game, most of Cornell-Wisconsin, a good chunk of Ohio State-Georgia Tech and the overtime of Michigan State-Maryland, on my flight from Phoenix to Cleveland.
- Syracuse looked phenomenal against Gonzaga, and I think they have to be the favorites from here on out. A potential matchup between them and Kentucky would have a lot of factors swinging in their favor. As long as Onuaku comes back, Syracuse has the size to battle Kentucky in the paint. Their zone will help a lot, since Bledsoe and Wall are not exactly sharpshooters. Also, who on Kentucky is going to guard Wes Johnson? The task will probably fall to Darius Miller which is not a good thing for the Wildcats.
- A couple things about Evan Turner’s game yesterday made me a little nervous. I recently wrote a post recommending that the Pacers target him with their 1st round draft pick this year, even over John Wall. I am not back-pedaling from that recommendation, but I saw some troubling things that I hadn’t noticed before. He played a terrific game yesterday, but had a couple of sloppy turnovers. Even the positive plays he did make, looked barely under control. Turner definitely had more positive then negative, but my my blood pressure was rising each time he touched the ball. I still want him in a Pacers uniform next year, but I am sure it won’t be great for my nerves. I also thought his passing looked very ordinary yesterday. He had nine assists but I saw each of them developing before the pass. When I watch Steve Nash or Chris Paul, I have no idea where the ball is going until it’s in the basket. If I can predict where the ball is going to go, it is probably not a good indicator of the complexity or effeciency of an offense.
- Great game by Cornell. They stepped on Wisconsin’s throat right after the opening tip, and never let up. I imagine the conversations in Wisconsin’s huddle sounding a lot like John Starks in “Winning Time.” – John Starks: “I’m walking to the free-throw line and I’m thinking, like, ‘Man, did this dude just did this?’”
- Congratulations to Purdue. I’m glad they got another chance to prove that they were more than just Robbie Hummel.