by RAY FLORIANI
NEWARK, NJ- Roy Williams looked at the scoreboard early in the game. It read 10-8 in favor of Marquette. The next time the North Carolina coach looked at the Prudential Center scoreboard it read 40-15, in favor of the Tar Heels. What happened?
First off, UNC went on a 19-0 run the first half that all but sealed their 81-63 victory over Marquette in the Newark Regional semifinal. The run, or blitz, was fueled by transition and forcing turnovers.
“The first half was just very uncharacteristic of us,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “I think we didn’t do some things but you have to give North Carolina a lot of credit.
The first half we were pitiful,” Buzz Williams added. “The second half we shot 52% and they shot 38%. That’s normally what we do but you can’t have that for one half. Not against a team like North Carolina.”
Notes (and pictures) provided by Ray Floriani
NEW YORK CITY – Day three, the quarterfinals at the 2011 Big East Tournament. Notes and thoughts…
Jim Boeheim admitted he could not complain. His Syracuse club outlasted St. John‘s in a hard fought 79-73 decision. The second game of the afternoon doubleheader saw the Orange get the key stops and make the crucial plays down the stretch. Score was tied at 68 with two minutes to play.
Boeheim has admitted not being a fan of the double bye. He would rather play than sit around and wait while others are getting past the early nerves and finding a groove.
The double bye did not affect Syracuse in this contest. Still, Boeheim is no fan of it.
Boeheim was asked about facing a Connecticut team that will be playing its fourth game in four days. “They (UCONN) are deeper,” Boehiem said. “Plus I think Kemba Walker could go forty minutes eight straight days.” Walker was outstanding, scoring 24 points and canning the winning buzzer beater.
* Day One Notes Below provided by Ray Floriani
Today’s Schedule (and tickets):
ROUND TWO: WEDNESDAY MARCH 9th:
Season Series: In their lone meeting on February 16, UConn scored a 78-70 win at the Hartford Civic Center. Kemba Walker pored in 31 points and also added 10 assists and 7 rebounds and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel added 23. The Hoyas got a team-high 19 points from point guard Chris Wright as the senior guard connected on five shots from three-point range. Wright will miss today’s game with a broken left (non-shooting) hand. Wright was injured early in the 2nd half of their Feb. 23 58-46 loss to Cincinnati which began a three-game losing streak for the Hoyas entering the 2011 BIG EAST Basketball Tournament.
In their lone battle this season, the Red Storm snuck past Rutgers at Carnesecca Arena, 58-56, back on Feb. 2. The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over 23 times in the contest. Dwight Hardy led the winners with 15 points while Jonathan Mitchell scored 21 for RU in the loss.
Season Series: The Bearcats defeated USF 74-66 at Fifth Third Arena back on January 12th. Sean Kilpatrick led four Bearcats in double-figures with a game-high 18 points. UC turned the Bulls over 18 times in that contest. Ron Anderson Jr. led USF with 13 points in that contest.
The Golden Eagles and Mountaineers met on New Year’s Day in Milwaukee with Marquette coming out on top, 79-74. Jae Crowder had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in that contest with Darius Johnson-Odom adding 21. In a losing cause, ‘Truck’ Bryant scored 25 for WVU. Buzz Williams’ crew won the battle of the boards 36-24 in the first meeting.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse await Wednesday’s winners in the quarterfinal round Thursday at MSG. Teams with double-byes are just 3-5 in the quarterfinals the last two seasons since the 16-team format was introduced.
Intro by Ray Floriani
LYNDHURST, NJ – The Big East Tournament will tip off in a few hours at Madison Square Garden. Five days of new stories to be written, a mix of the surprising, disappointing. The ’what happened to’ and a Cinderella usually added for good measure.
Game two in this afternoon’s session will be the ’rubber’ match of the battle between New Jersey’s two Big East schools. When Rutgers faces Seton Hall in the tournament’s second game of the schedule, approximately 2:30, a former officiating partner will be there. Not on the floor, the bench.
About six years ago a call came on a Summer morning asking if I could get to College of New Jersey. The Eastern Camp needed more officials. Instantly accepted but reminded the caller, the trip would be about an hour. No problem.
Arrived at TCNJ late morning and was told by the coordinator, “you will work with a camp counselor. Do you know Mike Rice?” Of course I did having covered his games as a Fordham point guard and following his coaching career. Mike knew me, more from the journalistic end. We were scheduled and worked three games. Told him to forget the signals, coaches just want the calls and don’t worry about positioning as much, I could work and adjust off his court location. Most important, I told Mike he played at a high level in college so officiating wouldn’t be impossible for him. In other words, he knew the game.
It was a high school team camp. We had some competitive clubs as one from Virginia as well as Neptune and CBA, two strong New Jersey programs. The games went well. Mike put his intensity seen these days on the Rutgers sideline, and conscientiousness into the effort. He was good with the coaches who may have questioned a call or no call. Showed a lot of patience in working the games and was impressive with his judgment. As noted, playing at the high level of DI, gave him the ability to decide on a call or pass on a ‘no call’. It was just a thrill and pleasure to work with him.
Not long after I mentioned the experience in my Eastern Basketball Magazine column, Mike was starting on Phil Martelli’s staff at St. Joseph’s. Mike told me later he copied the column to send to recruits. Why? To show prospects that coaches at St. Joseph’s will do anything and go the extra mile to help the kids in their program.