MERNAGH: QUICK UCONN/PITT PRIMER
IMHO you can throw out just about everything about the first game between these two, a 78-63 Pitt win at home.
Just about everything, but not everything.
Pitt would love for the game to get to a point where Kemba Walker feels like he has to take 27 shots to give his team a chance to win. Walker scored 35 in that game but UConn, despite the fact that they were always within a run of winning the game until late, never once threatened to win it.
But that UConn team hasn’t existed for quite some time.
Walker was magnificent yesterday and made the most impressive play I’ve seen so far in this tournament when he closed on the much bigger Hollis Thompson of Georgetown, tracked Thompson as he drove to the elbow area and then elevated to block the 6’8″ forwards shot and gain possession all in the span of maybe 2 seconds. That in itself would’ve been impressive enough but the human jet then went coast to coast and finished through contact for the and one.
Walker is making those kinds of plays but the difference is the young bucks around him, at least yesterday, are playing with a great deal of confidence and have the requisite talent to make that confidence scary. If freshmen Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith play freely and smart, and sophomore Alex Oriahki continues to go to the glass with a possessed mind state they are capable of beating anyone…including a Pitt team that’s coming into a noon game a bit cold compared to the Huskies.
And that’s the key for Pitt IMHO –to get off to a decent start so they don’t find themselves in a hole early.
Has the makings of a helluva game…and a helluva day.
Main Note On Last Night:
Marquette’s Junior Cadougan was incredible, coming up with clutch baskets each time the Warriors needed one and being an intelligent, calmning influence when it seemed his mates might succumb to the chaos that results when all hell breaks loose in a 1-2 possession game this time of year. Marquette bounced WVU mainly because of Cadougan’s play, he was that big. Now Buzz Williams and his bunch get another shot at Louisville, a team that they self-destructed against earlier this season. I said on radio two days ago that Marquette was my darkhorse to go deep into the week. A win tonight against the Cards will make them the people’s favorite no doubt.
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