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.
3/23/2006 11:56:00 PM
Putting The 'Click-Clacks' On J.J.
Garrett Temple and LSU held J.J. Redick to 11 points on 3-of-18 shooting.
ATLANTA -- LSU wanted to be humble about this one. They didn't mosh on the floor after their monumental, 62-54 upset of No. 1-seeded Duke in the Sweet 16. They stayed composed in the press conference. But when freshman forward Tasmin Mitchell answered a Blackberry call in the locker room long after he had changed into his sweats -- and saw it was a friend who didn't think the Tigers could actually win -- he yelled into the mouthpiece, "J.J. who? J.J. who?"
After the call, Mitchell turned to teammate Garrett Temple, the relatively unknown freshman guard who held J.J. Redick, the nation's second-leading scorer, to just 11 points on 3-of-18 shooting, and joked, "G-man, you gonna be able to put your clothes on?" It was the only thing Temple had failed at all night -- he was still standing, clad only in a towel, calmly fielding questions from reporter after reporter on how his glue-like D had sparked the fall of the nation's No. 1-ranked team and also the nation's most celebrated player. Duke is dead, and long live the fourth-seeded Tigers -- at least until Saturday.
The Blue Devils exited the tournament in the Sweet 16 for the second straight season after a game in which Redick had just one wide-open look at a 3 off a set play -- and made just one trip to the free-throw line. LSU teetered on the edge of disaster with both of its post stars, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas, playing with four fouls down the stretch -- but Temple played all 40 minutes, constantly chasing Redick one-one-one, getting plenty of double-team help off screens, and contesting nearly every Redick shot attempt. Temple turned in what, unquestionably, was the game of his life -- never mind that the stat line read just three points and three rebounds. "I thought about Redick all of last night -- I'm not gonna lie," Temple said. "I focused a lot, and watched a lot film ... and I only got six hours of sleep."
Temple said he had been told that Redick "didn't like physical play, and I tried to be physical the best I could without fouling. Fortunately I got hands in his face and was able to make him miss shots." Redick went 2-of-7 in the first half, as Duke trailed 31-27 at the break, and 1-of-11 in the second, when the Devils squandered a five-point lead with 8:47 to go and lost by eight. After Duke took that 45-40 lead, the likely National Player of the Year was 1-for-7 with one turnover, his lone make coming on a right-wing 3 that rattled in after Temple had been picked off by a screen.
Redick had a similar, tragic letdown in 2005's tourney loss to Michigan State -- shooting 4-of-14 for just 13 points -- but his downfall this season, unlike the last, could not be attributed to poor conditioning. It was solely a case of LSU's rabid defense never wavering -- and giving him the roughest treatment of any opponent the 32-4 Blue Devils had faced all season. Temple forced Redick into four turnovers, blocked him once, and challenged numerous shots with his 6-foot-5 wingspan, while fellow freshman Thomas wreaked havoc inside with his vertical, blocking five shots and grabbing 13 rebounds.
"Certain things are in your control and certain things are out of your control," said Redick. "I'm not a great athlete and LSU has great athletes. It was just a very physical game and obviously I'm disappointed in the way I've played."
Temple, who had been run ragged by his teammates in practice in the past two days in Redick-chasing simulations -- loads of double- and staggered-screens -- was surprised that Duke's game plan mainly stuck to single picks. He was, however, in full agreement with Redick's statement about the physicality.
When Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled Redick and fellow senior Shelden Williams -- who carried the Blue Devils with 23 points and 13 boards -- from the game with nine seconds left, so they could receive one, bittersweet farewell from the blue-clad faithful, Temple was still standing on the floor. As Redick was breaking into tears, Temple was celebrating -- with just three fouls to his name.
"LSU is a team that doesn't give up on plays," Krzyzewski said. "And they can make a play when you don't think that they can make a play."
No one -- and I mean no one -- thought Temple and the Tigers could lock down J.J.-27.2-points-per-game Redick. And few people thought the storied careers of Redick and Williams would end so soon. As Davis stood outside LSU's locker room in the postgame, he said, "I'm calling Garrett the sheriff. He locks up. He put the click-clacks on Redick."
"'G' was in him -- I mean, in 'em," Mitchell said of Redick, "and there wasn't anything he could do about it."
For Redick and Duke, there was a feeling of helplessness. All they had mustered was 54 points -- the lowest total they had scored in an NCAA tournament game since 1980. Williams matched LSU's muscle, but the Blue Devils had been outjumped, outrun and swatted by Thomas, and Redick had been chased, and chased, and harrassed by Temple until his season came to a crushing conclusion. "I've had a good year," Redick said half-heartedly in the press conference. "Shelden's had a good year. We have had a pretty outstanding year as a team. I'll be all right."
LSU and Temple didn't need to reassure anyone of their happiness after the game; the ecstatic looks on their faces said it all. And now that the Tigers have beaten Redick and Duke to the Elite Eight, they can realistically begin chasing something that seemed far more improbable a week ago: a Final Four and a national championship.
J.J. Redick in 2005's Sweet 16 loss to Michigan State: 4-for-14 shooting; 2-for-2 FTs; 3-9 3s; 13 points. 78-68 loss.
J.J. Redick in 2006's Sweet 16 loss to LSU: 3-for-18 shooting, 2-for-2 FTs; 3-for-9 3s; 11 points. 62-54 loss.
Redick, who was hounded by Garrett Temple, the Tigers' tireless freshman guard: "Certain things are under your control, and certain things are out of your control. I'm not a great athlete, and LSU has great athletes. It was just a very physical game and obviously I'm disappointed in the way I played."
The squad with the great athlete is moving on. Readers, what did you think Duke tonight? Were the Blue Devils outplayed, or did they err by not running Redick off of more double screens? He only had one good look all night that came off of a set play.
(More to come soon -- talk amongst yourselves in the meantime.)
ATLANTA -- We're less than three hours to tipoff at the Georgia Dome. Let's look at Duke-LSU in nerd-vision and see what the statistics yield (remember, tempo is possessions per 40 minutes, offensive efficiency is points per 100 possessions, defensive efficiency is points given up per 100 possessions, and all stats are the latest from kenpom.com):
Team Tempo (Rk.) OEff. (Rk.) DEff. (Rk.) Duke 72.3 (25) 119.5 (1) 89.5 (17) LSU 69.8 (88) 111.1 (39) 87.7 (9) * Rk. is national ranking in all of D-I
WHAT IT MEANS: The Blue Devils and Tigers play at similar speeds and have nearly equal defenses -- but Duke's offense is significantly more efficient. It would be in LSU's best interest to slow the game down and minimize the gap.
Now, let's examine it from a point-distribution angle (all figures are percentages) when each team has the ball:
WHAT IT MEANS: Now this is important. The points that the Blue Devils typically yield are arrayed almost exactly how LSU would prefer to score, which is a great thing for the Tigers. They live mainly off of 2s, where the Blue Devils are weakest, and hardly at all off of 3s, where Duke is the stingiest squad in the nation.
We'll revisit this data at the end of the night. If the Tigers follow their standard game plan and keep the pace slow, an upset will be in the works. If LSU's guards can't run the offense through Big Baby, and Duke pushes the tempo, the Blue Devils will win in a rout.
Here was Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher's comment on Huggins after he left the school in August -- alluding to both Huggins' and his players' run-ins with the law: "We expect our coaches to be role models, and we expect our students to be role models. We make no apologies for setting high standards."
What will K-State say? That, simply, "We expect to win"?
ATLANTA -- It's gloomy outside on game day, and my "road stereo" -- a red Tivoli Songbook and an iPod -- is filling my seventh-floor room in the Hyatt with sound. I scrolled past the artist "Gib and Izzy" on my 'pod earlier and laughed. G&I was the name of Texas point guard Daniel Gibson's amateur hip-hop act in Houston (with Izzy being his cousin, Isreal Chandler). Gibson gave me a couple of tracks back in October while I was interviewing him for SI, and I promised not to share them with the world. I'll keep honoring the pact.
Gibson's influence was H-town chopped-and-screwed music (G&I's lyrics were rapped over Lil' Flip's Game Over), hence the Screwston, Tx., hat he likes to sport backwards. I still have Lil' Flip on my iPod too, and it got me thinking about all the music that's made its way into our basketball coverage in the past year.
Most -- but not all -- of it has been hip-hop-related. J.J. Redick's car stereo was playing Journey's Don't Stop Believin' when SI's Grant Wahlfollowed Duke in October, but Redick told Matt Waxman that his fave artist is Kanye West and his preferred poet is Tupac. If you doubt the importance athletes place on hip-hop, Wahl told me that one of first things UNC's Rashad McCants said to him on the floor after winning last year's national title was, "Jay-Z's here" -- because the Jiggaman had made the trip to St. Louis and was in the stands with Beyonce.
When I hopped into Glen "Big Baby" Davis' Dodge Magnum a few weeks ago, he said, "Just roll with the big fella," and exclusively spun one disc -- Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter, Vol. 2. "This is Louisiana music," Davis said, and I kept hearing Lil' Wayne cuts everywhere I went on that trip. I sat near Davis as he had a tattoo of his mother, Toyna, inked onto his chest at Effum Body Works in Baton Rouge, and LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe -- who had randomly strolled in for a tat of his own -- was standing next to me, ham-rapping Wayne's Best Rapper Alive into Big Baby's grill to take his mind off the pain of the needle. As a kid, though, Davis was into James Brown: He hooked me up with the video at right (click the pic to play it), from his sixth-grade talent show, of him lip-syncing and deftly dancing to Get Up (I Feel Like A Sex Machine).
Vanderbilt's Mario Moore, quite possibly the most professional musician in the college game, vented his frustration with his portrayal in the Nashville media by posting rap tracks on his myspace.com page. The song Tell Me, which has since been removed from the page, had the opening lines,
You think you know me/ You think you know what my life's like/ What I go through day to day/ Or do you know what the papers say?
Even older white men were not immune from the hip-hop craze -- the 56-year-old George Mason head coach, Jim Larranaga -- got into the music act this year. Stewart Mandel gave us the report of Larranaga playing a Big Boi cut (!!) -- the Purple Ribbon All-Stars' Kryptonite -- on the locker room stereo to pump up his Patriots before they faced North Carolina.
Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, meanwhile, is a professed fan (to Wahl and others) of the now-defunct Rage Against the Machine, which rose to fame (and heavy rotation in my Sony Discman) in the mid-1990s with its blend of hip-hop and metal. Perhaps Morrison's signature 'do -- which, to my amazement, still draws the ire of some short-haired fans and sportswriters -- is the white-boy version of RATM frontman Zach De La Rocha's Chicano dreads. West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle is as tattooed as De La Rocha's rap/metal-peer Anthony Kiedis, but I get the feeling, from Pittsnogle's wedding photos, that he might be more of a Z.Z. Top kind of guy.
What I'm still waiting to find, however, is a modern-day Bill Walton. Blogger Ace Cowboy sent us the cell phone pic at right from Monday's Allman Brothers Show at the Beacon Theater, showing a jubilant Walton with his arms thrust in to the air during a jam. Ex-Bruin Walton was one of the college game's greatest players -- and is still one of the jamband community's biggest celebrity fans, an avowed Deadhead and, obviously, an Allmans-head as well. Readers, does the hippie still have a place in NCAA basketball, or is it completely a hip-hop world? For all the famous Phish shows at college arenas -- like Illinois' Assembly Hall or Wright State's Nutter Center -- I've yet to find a Phish-head hoopster. Does one exist?
The Road Stereo
The Tivoli stereo here in the room is winding down on my road-trip album of the week, Loose Fur's Born Again In the USA (the trio of Jim O'Rourke and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche). I've been alternating between that album and Destroyer's Rubies for a few days now, and I fear that indie-rock, despite my efforts to keep it alive in the Blog, is also sorely under-represented in the college game. As Big Baby said to me during that car ride, "Your music is called indie rock? What the hell is that?"