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Sunday, March 26, 2017

College Basketball

5 biggest takeaways from Saturday’s Elite Eight action

Jordan Bell Oregon

Saturday’s games marked the first which featured a truly brighter spotlight for the teams playing.

The Elite Eight, unlike the three rounds prior, only has one game played and televised at each interval. The entire college basketball world first focused its attention on San Jose, and then to Kansas City to see two teams advance to the Final Four.

Under a brighter light, flaws and successes stand out even brighter and show what can be expected as the tournament turns up the intensity. Here are five big things we saw.

1.) Gonzaga shouldn’t be satisfied with reaching the Final Four

For the first time in program history, Gonzaga is headed to the Final Four after beating 11 seed Xavier in the West Region final. For a school of Gonzaga’s size, with no football program and situated in the West Coast Conference, it is a huge achievement. No WCC team has played in the Final Four since Bill Russell was at San Francisco in 1957. Without a doubt, this is a milestone for the Gonzaga program.

But for this team, in this tournament, Gonzaga’s journey has no reason to stop now.

The Zags have been atop Ken Pomeroy’s rankings for the last two months, as they finished the regular season 29-1. Gonzaga features a top-15 offense in the country and the top-ranked defense in all the land.

With stars like Nigel Williams, Johnathan Williams, and Jordan Mathews, among a host of other scoring options, the Zags have so many ways to attack and win. Both of Mark Few’s centers, Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski, battled foul trouble Saturday, but Gonzaga went smaller and found success in transition.

These Bulldogs are a cut above the Gonzaga teams of the past and capable of winning it all.

2.) Mid-majors crash the party again


Lawrence Police trolls Kansas after upset loss to Oregon

Lawrence Police trolled Kansas after the Jayhawks were upset by Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.

The Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed in the tourney and had been destroying opponents, yet they went cold against the Ducks’ tough interior defense and lost 74-60.

Lawrence Police, which is the city where KU is located, sent this tweet:

Lawrence Police

That is harsh and unnecessary.

Despite being an elite program under Bill Self, the Jayhawks consistently have lost earlier than expected in the NCAA Tournament.

They’ve had two first-round exits; three second-round exits; two Sweet 16 exits; and five Elite Eight exits under Self. That’s despite having eight 30-plus win seasons under him. At least they’ve made two trips to the title game and won one, because otherwise Self would have the biggest monkey on his back in the sport.

We’re guessing that the Lawrence PD learned its Twitter behavior from their friends in Denver.

Phil Knight cuts down nets after Oregon reaches Final Four

Phil Knight

Oregon’s basketball program had one of its finest moments in their history on Saturday, and Phil Knight was on hand to celebrate. And he didn’t just celebrate from the stands like some fan; he got to participate.

The Nike founder, who is a huge booster for Oregon’s athletic programs, got to cut down the net in Kansas City along with his team:

The Ducks were among the best teams in college basketball all season, as they entered the Big Dance 29-5. They took a hit in their seeding after Chris Boucher suffered a torn ACL in the Pac-12 Tournament, but they’ve proven they can win without him.

Oregon doesn’t have much of a tradition in college hoops. Their only previous trip to the Final Four was in 1939, when they won it all. Under Dana Altman, they’ve made the tournament five times and have back-to-back strong showings. They sure are making Knight proud.

Dillon Brooks gets upset with coaches during timeout (Video)

Dillon Brooks coaches

Dillon Brooks was heated during a timeout in the final five minutes of Oregon’s game against Kansas in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

The Ducks were up by double-digits against the Jayhawks and essentially started nursing the ball offensively rather than running plays or trying to score. The result was Brooks throwing up a wild shot to beat the shot clock with 5:10 left in the game.

On their next possession, the Ducks called a timeout. That’s when TBS says Brooks got into it with his coaches. They shared a video as proof.

TBS later reported that Brooks was upset nobody gave him a warning that the shot clock was expiring on his previous possession.

Brooks didn’t score the rest of the way but still finished with 17 points. Tyler Dorsey brought the game home offensively for Oregon, who won 74-60. Dorsey scored a game-high 27, while Jordan Bell dominated inside with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 big blocks.

H/T CJ Zero for the video

LaVar Ball glad Steve Alford staying with UCLA

LaVar Ball

There are some people that LaVar Ball does have positive things to say about other than his sons. One of them, apparently, is UCLA coach Steve Alford.

Ball, whose two younger sons have both committed to UCLA, is pleased that Alford is not leaving for Indiana and staying with the Bruins.

“I feel good about that,” LaVar said, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN. “He knows my boys. I like his style, and I’m glad he’s staying.”

As for Lonzo Ball, whose Bruins were bounced from the NCAA Tournament Friday night, LaVar’s usual braggadocio came back a bit.

“They came up short, but one game doesn’t define his season,” LaVar said. “No one is going to take De’Aaron Fox over him because of one game. It’s about your body of work, and people know what he can do.”

“He said after the game that he didn’t make enough plays. He understands there are plays he should have made, that he wasn’t aggressive enough. He started off aggressive, but then eased up and went into pass-mode.”

It’ll probably only be a matter of time before Ball is back to his old, ebullient self, and once he is, the internet will come after him once again.

Grumpy writer complains about SI for Kids reporter

A grumpy journalist is getting blasted for complaining about an “SI for Kids” reporter ruining his very adult, very serious opportunity to get quotes for his very serious job.

On Friday, a reporter for “SI for Kids” went viral for a question asked to South Carolina’s Frank Martin about defense, that was highly praised by the Gamecocks head coach.

One person who wasn’t a fan of the journalistic efforts of “SI for Kids” reporters is David Caraviello, a reporter for the Charleston Post & Courier. Here’s what he had to say on Twitter as he complained:

David Caraviello tweet

Caraviello took a lot of heat for his tweet and kept trying to defend himself, not really realizing that very few shared his viewpoint.

This was the general consensus response to Caraviello’s complaining:

Caraviello really needs to lighten up and realize the world doesn’t revolve around him and his fellow writers working on deadline. This is not a good look for him.

Archie Miller becomes new head coach at Indiana

The Indiana Hoosiers have found their new basketball coach.

The school announced the move on Twitter Saturday morning:

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that the two sides were working on a seven-year deal, meaning the Hoosiers are putting a lot of faith in Miller to re-establish the program as an elite one.

Miller, the younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, is an excellent hire for Indiana. He’s led Dayton to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight back in 2014. This season they went 24-8 and won the Atlantic 10 regular season title under Miller’s guidance.

Miller may not be the flashiest candidate — more high-profile names were also mentioned — but he’s been a successful coach with a good pedigree. Indiana has done well with this hire.

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