Posts Tagged ‘gordon hayward’

Monday Medley

What we read while trying to ignore the fact that Amy Mickelson is Tiger’s type…

The Double Bonus: Duke Wins!

Tim and John S collected themselves after last night’s brilliant National Championship to bring you this special National Championship Edition of The Double Bonus:

TIM: So John, are we allowed to breathe now?

JOHN S: I guess you can. I still haven’t. That game was the most nerve-wracking, heart-wrenching, emotionally draining game I’ve ever watched as a Duke fan. It unfolded almost like a nightmare. Butler was doing to Duke exactly what it had been doing to teams all Tournament long: Staying close and then holding them without a field goal in the final minutes. It looked like it was setting up perfectly for a Butler comeback, with Nolan Smith, our best player throughout the Tournament, and Kyle Singler, our best player in the Final Four, each clunking shots off the front of the rim, setting up not one but TWO attempts at the game-winner by Butler’s star.

And I, like so many others, thought they were both going in when they left Gordon Hayward’s hands…. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Duke v. Butler

TIM: John, here we are, 143 days after I wrote my introductory “It’s College Basketball Season!” post, and the only two times I spent entire bullet points on back on November 13 are the only two teams still playing on April 5. Did I diverge from my prognosticated path? Sure. But come on, where’s my dap?

JOHN S: Sorry, Tim, no dap. Here’s why: 1) It’s not like you said in that post that either team would make it to the Final Four; you just pointed out that both teams would have intriguing storylines all season, with Butler flirting with an undefeated or one-loss season, and Duke thriving thanks mostly to two white players. 2) You were wrong on both counts! Butler’s early season losses kept them out of the AP Top Ten all season, and even though the Bulldogs haven’t lost since before Christmas, they were under the radar heading into the Tournament. Meanwhile, the “dynamic duo” that you hyped for Duke ended up being two-thirds of the Big Three, with Nolan Smith’s contributions equally those of Scheyer and Singler.

So, sorry, but no dap for you. Not even you saw this coming. This David vs. Goliath, Good vs. Evil, Cinderella vs. the Wicked Step-Sisters matchup. Are you even going to be able to, in good conscience, root for Duke? I mean, even our guy Joe Posnanski is making Hoosiers references now

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Talkin’ Final Four: Butler vs. Michigan State

John S: Alright, Tim, it’s Final Four time. I don’t know how we manage during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, because just having two more basketball free days really chills my excitement for the Final Four. An up-for-grabs game between two very likable teams that not many people saw getting this far, though, is a great way to start the weekend. But, this game is going to be UGLY. Neither of these teams plays a very fast game, particularly now that Kalin Lucas is gone, and each of them likes to keep the game low-scoring. Matt Howard, Butler’s leading rebounder who is going to be counted on to hang with Michigan State’s great rebounders, seems to start the game with three fouls. Butler managed to beat Syracuse and Kansas State by getting them to take bad shots, but the Bulldogs themselves haven’t shot particularly well either. So this game may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of the Tournament. My question to you: Will it be ugly exciting, or ugly boring?

Tim: Well, if you run down the games these two teams have played in the Tournament so far, it’s hard not to envision this being ugly exciting. Michigan State won its four games by a total of 13 points–which I think is the fewest ever for a Final Four team. After its first-round win over UTEP, Butler’s last three games have come down to the final minute. I have no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be close. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Butler vs. Kansas State

Tim and John S have spent most of this NCAA Tournament putting their picks in separate posts that prevented them from both collaborating and mocking one another. Now that we’ve reached the Elite Eight, it’s time to stick the two of them in the same room and see what emerges. Not surprisingly, the answer isn’t consensus.

TIM: So John, what looks worse now: your prediction that K-State’s game with Xavier “wouldn’t be close” or that Syracuse would play Pitt here since you expected “a lot of intra-Big East showdowns in this Tournament”?

JOHN S: Well, probably my Syracuse-Pitt prediction. I frankly admitted that my hunch about the K-State/Xavier game wasn’t based on anything, but my prediction about the Big East failed time and again in this Tournament. So far every team in that conference has lost earlier than I expected, with the possible exception of West Virginia, who I had in the Final Four–so there’s still time for me to be wrong on that one.

Anyway, we were both wrong on Syracuse, so don’t try and duck that one. Two questions about this game, though, stand out to me: 1) Are the Wildcats riding a high from their 2 OT win two night ago, or are they emotionally and physically spent from a game like that? Is winning a thriller an advantage or not at this point? And 2) If Butler advances to the Final Four in Indianapolis, how much does the quasi-home court advantage help them? Continue reading

John S Picks The Thursday Games

1. Syracuse vs. 5. Butler

Original Pick: Syracuse over Vanderbilt

What I’ve Learned: Syracuse continues to be the best team in country when it plays well, making me continue to regret my decision to pick Kansas to win it all. With that said, this team has been thin all year, and they are even thinner without Arinze Onuaku.

I’ve been dead wrong, though, on Butler—the only 5-seed I picked to lose in the first round. Ever since a somewhat slow start, people who were high on the Bulldogs before the season—like Tim!—have let them fly under the radar, ignoring the fact that the last time this team lost was before Christmas. Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward are a dynamic pairing, and I can see them giving the Orange a serious run. In the end, though, I’ll go with favorite.

The Pick: Syracuse

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Tim’s Thursday Picks

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m 36-12 in this NCAA Tournament; last time I checked that’s 75 percent. That means you can take three of these four picks to the bank. Which one doesn’t come through? Well, that’s the beauty of the Tournament, isn’t it?

1. Syracuse vs. 5. Butler

Original: Syracuse over Butler

What I’ve Learned: The Orange are just fine without Arinze Onuaku, and the Bulldogs continue to survive with Matt Howard in foul trouble. Howard has been in foul trouble in just about every big-time game Butler has played all season, and the Bulldogs responded on Saturday by going small and matching Murray State’s athleticism. The problem is, they can’t afford to go small against Syracuse, even if the Orange don’t have Onuaku. Howard needs to stay on the floor and be a presence inside; it wasn’t too long ago he was Horizon Player of the Year and the standard for old-fashioned, interior fundamentals—a mantle usurped last weekend by Omar Samhan. In order for Butler to win, Howard needs to demand attention on the block, Gordon Hayward needs to announce his presence on a national stage with a 20-10 kind of game, and Shelvin Mack and Co. have to shoot lights-out from the perimeter. I can see two of those things happening, but not all three.

The Pick: Syracuse Continue reading