Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/20/2006 03:00:00 AM
Dancing With The Stars
Shelden Williams has become Duke's MVP during the NCAA tournament.
The Blog's All-First-Weekend Team, comprised solely of players still in the dance:
PG: Marcus Williams, Jr., UConn 21 points, 8 assists vs. Albany; 20 points, 8 assists vs. Kentucky
Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said last week that Williams is the most important player in the entire NCAA tournament; while that may be a stretch, Williams is the glue that's holding the fragile Huskies together. Already the nation's top point guard, he's stepped up as a scorer when his teammates have struggled to get points in crunch time.
SG: Brandon Roy, Sr., Washington 28 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists vs. Utah State; 21 points, 7 rebs, 3 assists vs. Illinois
Roy told the Seattle Times that the Illini were "not giving me anything easy," yet he still managed his second straight 20-point game to power the Huskies to another trip to the Sweet 16.
SF: Marcellus Sommerville, Sr., Bradley 21 points, 5 rebounds vs. Kansas; 18 points, 6 rebounds vs. Pittsburgh
This has become the mid-majors' dance, and Sommerville is their first-team representation. He's technically a four for the Braves, but he's athletic enough to be a major-conference swingman; Sommerville shot down the fourth-seeded Jayhawks in the first round with five treys.
PF: Craig Smith, Sr., Boston College 25 points, 13 rebounds vs. Pacific; 22 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists vs. Montana
BC head coach Al Skinner said of Smith's monster game against the Grizzlies, "Let's face it, he was a beast in there." Smith put the Eagles on his back and outmuscled double- and triple-teams from two feisty mid-majors; now, can he do the same against Villnova's small front line?
C/F: Shelden Williams, Sr., Duke 29 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks vs. Southern; 17 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks vs. George Washington
Williams set Duke's all-time rebounding record this weekend, passing Mike Gminski, and GW guard Danilo "don't-call-me-J.R." Pinnock had these kind words to say of Williams' stellar D (in the Raleigh News & Observer): "He changes every shot that comes in the lane. If it's not a 3, he's changing it. ... That's why he's the best big man in the country." And we're proud to have him lording over this team's lane.
Sixth Man: Joakim Noah, Soph., Florida 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks vs. South Alabama; 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The energetic Noah was a sparingly used reserve for the Gators in last year's tournament; this postseason, he's become one of the nation's most well-rounded big men. In the first round, the Jaguars drove at Noah, only to be greeted with a series of emphatic rejections. "If that was their game plan," Noah said, "then they got denied."
Coach: Jim Larranaga, George Mason
Larranaga led George Mason over two of 2005's Final Four teams (Michigan State and North Carolina) and into the Sweet 16. And Stew Mandelreports that the head of the Patriots -- who's 56 years old -- charged up his troops to face the Heels by playing the Purple Ribbon All-Stars' rap track Kryptonite (click to listen) in the locker room. Larranaga told the GMU players, hilariously, that they were UNC's kryptonite. This selection's a no-brainer.
Now, for the second team ...
Guards:Folarin Campbell, George Mason (21 points, 7 boards, 8-of-8 shooting vs. Michigan State; 15 points, 7 boards vs. UNC); Allan Ray, Villanova (19 points vs. Monmouth, 25 points vs. Arizona).
Forwards:Glen Davis, LSU (22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks vs. Iona; 21 points, 8 rebounds vs. Texas A&M); Adam Morrison, Gonzaga (35 points vs. Xavier; 14 points, 9 rebounds vs. Indiana).
I agree with your picks. What's ironic is that one of the best-looking teams so far, Memphis, doesn't have anyone who stood out, but it does have ten guys who can run, rebound, score, and play defense. And all but one is a sophomore or freshman.
Where's JJ Redick? The (arguable)college player of the year averaged 24.5 points, 3 assists & 2 rebounds while shooting %50 from the floor and %47 from three point range, in two relatively easy wins. Did his uncharacteristic free-throw troubles keep him off your All-first weekend team? Or maybe he's just so consistently good that those kinds of number don't make news anymore? Did any other player hit 9 three-pointers this weekend?
Is EVERYBODY that is in any way involved with college basketball this year smoking crack? Adam Morrison CAN'T PLAY! Yes, he can shoot. But he couldn't guard a dead guy - and from watching him, he won't even try! He's a poor rebounder. Yes, he got "nine" in his last game, but go back and see how many of those were uncontested missed free throws. He's not very athletic at all. Watch him "run." I'm amazed at how many TV talking heads and writers proclaim him to be the second coming of Larry Bird. This guy is nowhere close to that league, and the world will find that out next year when he attempts to play in the NBA. I'd be curious to see what NBA scouts and GM's have to say about him.
i think that it is a joke not to include memphis in any of this. They have anihilated 2 teams as well as shooting a combined 55 percent from the field. They had 6 players in double figures on friday, not to mention 11 threes and beating a team that shot 60 percent. Your biases against this team are an insult to basketball.
Adam Morrison, 2d team? Did you watch the 2d round? Morrison was a non-factor against IU. And his numbers, when he got them, are nothing compared to his normal figures. Might as well have picked Nick Fazekas from Nevada, who got, what 24 pts & 10 bds v. Montana but also was a nonfactor.
Luke, how could you not put anyone from the Memphis Tigers on the 1st Team, much less the Second Team. It's all fine and dandy that the MVC is represented, but come one. What does Memphis have to do to gain some respect? They have been the most steady #1 seed and yet get no respect. Rodney Carney and Joey Dorsey could both be listed along with John Calipari. Yes, Calipari for his genius substitutions. Yes they are 10 deep, but it takes strategy to completely shut a team down like Memphis did.
I think you have to find a way to include Patrick O'Bryant on that list. There's no way Bradley beats Pitt without him dominating the paint on both sides of the ball. He altered so many shots that it completely took away Pitt's aggression in going to the basket in the second half.
Does the name "Patrick O'Bryant" ring a bell? Williams and Hibbert were fine, but did they perform against the likes of Kansas (Kaun and a deep frontcourt) and Pitt (Gray) the way O'Bryant did? I know you've got Sommerville and Les on there already, but there's got to be room for O'Bryant somewhere! What a weekend he had.
J.P. Batista (19 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2 spg) has been a more important factor in Gonzaga's tourney success so far than Morrison. Batista has tied up the front court on both ends, allowing other 'Zags more opportunities.
The difference in the Indiana game was the Hoosiers' lack of an answer inside for Batista, forcing them to rely almost exclusively on 3s in the second half.
Batista is the reason the Zags are still dancing and should be first team for the first weekend.
I know it's very difficult to pick teams like this, but how do you leave Patrick O'Bryant of Bradley off of this list after he put up 28 pts. on a fellow 7 footer in Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh. Hibbert got his points with 6'7 and 6'8 guys guarding him.
There were so many outstanding players that you didn't have to pick Morrison after that second round game. He rebounded well but he definitely struggled with his scoring, while Bradley's O'Bryant, Gonzaga's Batista and Wichita's Miller made a legitimate claim for a spot on the frontcourt for either first or second team. Without taking away anything from Hibbert, who was excellent by his own standards, but he still looks like a work in progress and is not quite as smooth as the other three I mentioned. He will be a monster, though, if he continues to develop his athleticism. The omission of Reddick just proves once more how good he really is and under how much scrutiny he is. People expect so much from that poor guy that two good games are considered below his standard. He can do better, and against LSU will will (have to) do better. Make him a lock for the regional's team.
Keep the Morrison pick...He still put up 14 points with 2 or 3 opponents hanging on him. Very likely the reason JP came through with a good game. Absolute must give credit for absorbing so much of the opponents defense!!!
I wonder if there is any coincidence to the fact that Calhoon thinks Marcus Williams is the most important guy in the tourney and the fact that he was allowed to play this year after a short suspension, while AJ Price (who had the same 'indiscression' as Williams) was suspended for the entire year. Hmm...
Like a lot of other readers, I would have to suggest Patrick O'Bryant. He controlled the Pitt game (28 points, 7 rebounds and 1 personal foul). To give you the benefit of the doubt, however, he wasn't nearly as sensational in the Kansas game (only 8 points on 3-8 shooting along with 10 rebounds).
ya, that's a good list..but i noticed that JJ wasn't on it...his numbers were good, not great, but most of his shots come at such crucial times he deserves some ink...and as for all the morrison haters, yes he deserves the recognition, if you wanna talk about his second half performance, maybe you should stop and realize that the Zags would've got knocked out in round one had it not been for him.
You, my good man, are just like all the other national sports media folks. You just don't want to give credit when it is due to the University of Memphis Tigers. They were by far the bst looking of all the #1 seeds.
Bobby Perry can't make the team because Kentucky lost, read the rules. There is no way Duke makes it past LSU with the way they have played so far. Neither Reddick or Williams should be on your team. If anyone from Duke should make it, it would be Paulus, who is the key to their tourney hopes. What about players from Texas, or the Georgetown center?
To the folks clamoring for Bobby Perry: He had two of his best games of the season, but this team was made up solely of players STILL in the tournament. When I make my best-players-who-are-home-now squad, he'll be on that for sure. (kidding).
As for Redick, he probably should have been mentioned ... although I was trying to spread the wealth a little bit and not have two players from the same school, and I wanted to have at least one MM guy on each squad.
As for O'Bryant, note that everyone on that list (with the exception of Morrison, who had a 35-pt game) strung together two big performances. O'Bryant was amazing against Pitt, but he only had 10 vs. Kansas. Sommerville has been Bradley's less-publicized hero.
1) I'm one of the few media members (and the only SI hoops writer) to have Memphis in the Final Four of my bracket ... which was posted on the site last week. So please don't play the no-respect card here. I have a Tigers-vs.-UConn title game.
2) Examine the box score from the Bucknell game. I just did. And I did last night when I put together this squad. It's an impressive, balanced effort, but no single player stands out. Honestly, who would you swap out on this list?
I think it has to do with the setiment among most media guys (though I give you props for picking us to the final 4) that we are over-rated and ripe for an upset. I'll give you a quote from the AP write up of the Oral Roberts game:
"Even though Memphis entered the NCAA Tournament as the only team other than Duke with 30 wins, some thought the Tigers might be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed."
I've looked over you selections, and based on individual numbers, I couldn't in good faith replace anyone with a Memphis player. But that is because Memphis is using more players than any other team in the tournement.
I'll tell you what though, Memphis could probably play neck and neck against your 12 all-tourney picks.
With regards to Memphis - you should have listed "Memphis Depth" on your team. We are one of the few teams which can throw ten legit players who can flat out ball. Wave after wave of players coming in and there is simply no drop off of talent. Next game up Bradley, after that two teams we have already lined up with and beaten. Thanks for the props so far.
Finally three years and Perry scores some points, he has been a liability. Tubby has taken the KY program down, instead of people expecting KY to win, they are now expecting KY to lose, this is due to POOR, terrible recruiiting by Tubby, He will be back next year, KY will probably be repeat of this year. I am not expecting a NCAA title every year, but I do expect the team to be competitive, recruiting players that can play DIV 1 BB.
I'm not sure how you leave O'Bryant off that list, either. With all due respect to the centers selected - and they've had some great games - O'Bryant totally neutralized Gray in the Pitt game and has been an absolute difference-maker in a 13-seed knocking off a 4 and a 5 consecutively.
How about some kind of honorable mention for Patrick Sparks? I know he lost but come on, a Kentucky kid playing his last game in a UK uniform, against the best team left in the tournament, playing the game of his life. He was the smallest player on the court, the slowest, the least athletic, but probably the MOST heart. He was the best player on the floor that game and college basketball needs more players like that! If UConn showed that kind of heart every game, they would NEVER lose. Please reserve some space for Sparks when discussing the players of the opening rounds.
I agree that Memphis has dominated its opponents, but it has done so without a superstar, and so naturally has nobody on the "First-Weekend" team. If Memphis wins it all, it may still do so without a superstar -- but this is no insult (consider the Detroit Pistons), and only the constant need in our era for recognition, recognition, recognition makes it seem otherwise. Memphis, a very complete team, reminds me a little bit of a comment that the older John Thompson once made about recruiting. It went something like this: "Let the other guys make up a team of one A-plus player, one A-minus player, one B-player, and a bunch of C-players. I'll take my eight or nine B-plus players against them any day."
I am not sure who else in the 16-team field can claim to have so many B-plus players.
It would be interesting to see where the people who have posted comments live. I think there is a bit of local favoritism involved. And the people who post irate and insulting comments only make me discount their opinions.
Coach - Mark Turgeon, WSU. In a school with a sports tradition tied up in Baseball and Bowling (and a nickname almost as bizarre as the ISU Sycamores), he took a team that started the season with mid-conference expectations, and not only dominated the conference for the regular season, but is taking his team to the sweet 16...
As I read your picks for top players in the tournament, I'm reminded that this is a team sport. No Memphis player is mentioned because it plays as a team. I'd rather have a team than one player that is great. Again Memphis gets no respect, now nor before the selection committee made their choices. There was always the comment 'Memphis had a weak conference schedule'. Well At least they challanged the elite in their non-conference schedule. Who cares if it came before their conference scehdule. Maybe some of you media people will wake up soon and give Memphis what it deserves they sure have earned it.
Memphis fans need to settle down some. Nice team, and I really haven't seen the massive disrespect that they are claiming. Yeah, they did have a weak conference schedule. Yep, they played a solid OOC schedule. So, they got rewarded with the one seed they deserved, what's the problem? I think Nova gets less respect from most people than Memphis. Of course more people pick Duke and UConn. UConn has undisputeably the best talent, Duke is more disciplined, more experienced, and they already beat Memphis. Memphis is probably the 3rd best team in the tourney due to their fantastic athletic ability and top to bottom balance, but that doesn't warrant more hype than they've gotten and I don't think any one player has done enough in these two games to replace someone on that list. By the end of the tourney, I wouldn't be surprised if Carney is on all of these lists.
Interesting comments about Adam Morrison. Hadn't seen him play before last week. At first I didn't think he deserved all of the attention at all--until he faked a guy on the 3 point line to tie the game against Xavier--an unbelievable shot. For the next five minutes I saw what the experts are talking about. He really is something to watch. AND, against Indiana, he was double and triple teamed and getting fouled A LOT without any calls. Morrison deserves to be on that list, if not the first.
Mark Turgeon should be the National Coach of the Year. You can talk about Roy Williams, Bill Self or John Calipari and their McDonald's All-Americans all you want...none of them could take this WSU team to the Sweet 16. They were picked 5th preseason in the MVC. They lost three key starters from the previous season. What Turgeon has done with this team has changed a whole community. Can anyone say the same for Chapel Hill, Memphis or Lawrence? When you're given all the tools to succeed and you succeed, it should be expected. When you're given a clean slate and you end up with the Mona Lisa, there's something to be said about your skills.
Morrison and the Zags are in over their heads. You'll see them go down this Thursday. UW and Brandon Roy are the class of this (Washington) state. Go Dawgs. And, what about UW's true frosh Justin Dentmon hitting the 4-pt play in the last couple minutes to seal the comeback and set up the win?!
"Memphis fans need to settle down some. Nice team, and I really haven't seen the massive disrespect that they are claiming. Yeah, they did have a weak conference schedule. Yep, they played a solid OOC schedule. So, they got rewarded with the one seed they deserved, what's the problem? I think Nova gets less respect from most people than Memphis. Of course more people pick Duke and UConn. UConn has undisputeably the best talent, Duke is more disciplined, more experienced, and they already beat Memphis."
Bill Packer was commenting, during a game the other day, about the teams remaining that won their conference tournament and Memphis was not mentioned. Villanova games have been in on every highlight show on TV. Memphis games have not. As a matter of fact on ESPN this morning no highlights from the Oakland region were shown. All the highlights were from the other three regions. So don't give me "Memphis fans need to settle down....". We have a darn good team and they do not get the recognition that other teams get.
I agree with your picks, its nice to see Craig Smith getting recognition (although its tough to say he has been disrespected). I think it'll be a heck of a game against Villanova on Friday, with Nova struggling to stop BC inside and BC having trouble with Nova's fast-moving, accurate-shooting guards on the outside. Could come down to who has the most heart.
I, too, hadn't seen Morrison until this past weekend. Was all hyped up to see this great player. Very disappointed. He does have skills at the offensive end, but his athleticism is questionable. He may have been frustrated with the physical play of being double-teamed, but he came across as being whiny, and it looked like he was upset with his teammates for not getting him the ball more. For the geopgrapher in the group, I am from the Midwest, and have no affinity for Duke, but the SI cover of Redick and Morrison is a sham. Redick is a much better player.
I am from Memphis and I am proud of it. I have been a Tiger fan for a long time. Yes there are several players that should have been on that list BUT - Memphis Tigers play as a TEAM. We don't center our game around ONE person. That is why you have picked your Elite. When you PLAY as a TEAM - you WIN as a TEAM. Watch out folks the Tigers are on a roll. I hope they take it all. Once again, playing as a team will get them farther that most teams that have been knocked out because of ONE certain player! It takes 5 players to play not 1!!!
I think you may want to include Acie Law IV from Texas A&M. If he didn't have 2 fouls in the first 2 minutes against LSU, they are in the sweet sixteen. He completely took over both games and his speed with the ball is better than almost everyone else without the ball.
Memphis fans - all ESPN ever shows/talks about are teams on the east coast. I think they all must have to go to bed by 10:00. (Note the guy from Washington, who said, What? They have basketball teams on the west coast?) So, I guess, just don't take it personally - out here on the west coast we're really used to it. In some ways it works to your advantage because the east coast teams don't see you coming in the tournament. Good luck, but I'm rooting for another team in your bracket, so I hope you don't win this time.
One day the Memphis basketball team will get the respect they deserve, especially this team. They have been disrespected since they were chosen as a #1 seed. I guess if they are the only number 1 seed to make it to the championship game will they get some R.E.S.P.E.C.T!!!!!!
First Team Coach: Jim Les GM's Coach was great but GM tied for 1st in Conference play and you can argue that the expectations of the team should be higher. Bradley ended season only tied for 5th in Conference, and had to play smart, disciplined b-ball to get past Pitt. IMO coaching was the difference. Credit Bradley's entire coaching staff and Head Coach, Jim Les.
Memphis fans chill. You have a good team but no one player that stood out over the first weekend. You should be happy not upset. Balanced scoring is often a key to tourney success. No one here is saying that you are not a good team.
Luke I like your picks, except for Morrison. If you leave Patrick O'Bryant out for his lackluster Kansas performance then you have to leave Morrison out for his lackluster Indiana performance.
You're picks are right on, but, it's important to note that only NBA teams care about individual superstars. College championships are won with team play, and let us not forget that 'Defense wins Championships'. The Memphis Tigers will be championship personified.
I am neutral in this. I'm not a Memphis fan but I just love basketball and watch as much of it as I can year in and year out. I do believe right now Memphis may just be the best team in the country as far as i'm concerned. I've watched them all and right now Memphis looks the best. They did have a midseason lull (the Texas game around Xmas)where they were shooting a lot of 3's and not playing that well. I'm sure a lot of the sports writers/announcers opinions are still from a few months back during the period that they were not playing as well. If they look at them now though they will see a mighty fine team. I would say Memphis and Duke are the top two and you could probably throw in UConn and Villanova just below them. As for the no respect, I did see last week that Luke Winn had them in his final four and he was the only one of the writers that did. I knew when he left off any Memphis players on his list it was only because Memphis is such a balanced team. Nobody inparticular stands out, they all do. I have been surprised to hear suppossedly knowledgable tv sports announcers skip right over them when making their picks. Even yesterday I saw 4 personalities on ESPN make their picks for the Oakland region and 3 picked UCLA and one picked Gonzaga. In looking at Memphis schedule they have already played both these teams this year and won both games so i'm puzzled. Still, I have noticed a few beginning to slowly jump on the Tigers bandwagon as they advance. I do hope Memphis does well and proves the so called experts wrong. It tough for anybody to win them all and sooner or later you have a bad game and its' over but if anybody in this tournament can do it, it's Memphis.
"I think you may want to include Acie Law IV from Texas A&M. If he didn't have 2 fouls in the first 2 minutes against LSU, they are in the sweet sixteen."
You're right. Unfortunately things a player does on the court can affect a game. I think its unfair as well. Chalk up another reason for aggy to bemoan the 'could-have-beens' during the the anuual time of the year when they get to watch everybody else play. See ya back here sometime around 2035.
I've watched every game the last 3 years that Adam "Mo" has played for the Zags. His performance and civility this weekend were under par, however, he truly is a gifted and disciplined athlete.... and a No 1 draft pick. He'll do well in the NBA and the last mustachioed laugh will be his.
Morrison? Pfft...Get me some JJ action. Face it the guy is a stud. He can throw up thirty points whenever he wants. JJ obviously knows that he can half ass in round 1/2 and still make it to 3...Come on guys...JJ makes it look like cake.
By the way...It amazes me how teams like Creighton can be held out of the big dance after having a solid season? Take a look at the teams they have beat. Wichita, Bradley, Xavier...the list goes on. Oral Roberts? Air Force? Come on boys...Give me a break. Give us some Creighton Blue Jays!
Guard play is key to winning it all. 'Nova has the best guards in the tournament; they can all shoot, drive or dish. With enough help upfront from Sheridan, Cunningham and Clark, 'Nova will be cutting down the nets in Indianapolis.
As a Memphis Grad(1992) and a lifelong fan, I feel that all Tiger fans should just sit back and enjoy the show. They are in the second and three two-game tournaments to win the national title. If they win all three mini-tournaments, the country will have no other choice but to give them respect. And if not, think about next year and all of the other talent that will accompany the current players. I'm just enjoying the show.
As a Memphis fan, I don't begrudge the other #1 seeds the extra attention they receive. Duke and UConn seem to make deep tourney runs every year. Naturally they're going to get the coverage come tournament time. Villanova, although only recently rejuvenated like Memphis, comes from the high-profile Big East and has beaten UConn. So again I'm not surprised they're getting the hype from the media. Who cares? While the focus has been on those other teams, the Tigers have quietly annhilated their first two opponents and seem poised to keep right on going. If they keep on winning they'll shut up the naysayers and get all the media attention they want. GO TIGERS!
Hey, all you fans out there angry about the lack of respect for the Memphis Tigers ... no worries. I'll take the most dominant 1 seed in the tournament over a few overstuffed rock stars on mediocre teams anyday. Remember, it'll be a team that cuts down the nets in Indy and they'll be wearing Tiger Blue.
Randy Foye is first team all american...but does anyone even know that?!?! of course not! he is the best player in college basketball that nobody ever hears about! 41 points in two games inlcuding 20 first half points vs Arizona!!! i guess that's not worth mentioning though...not to mention he can outrebound any guard in America...the guy is the all around package and should start getting the recognition...
This is for Biran. Apparently you have nothing else to do other than to read comments. We are fans of our teams and we support them all the way no matter where they fall off. By the way, who did you say you were pulling for?