Sunday, February 22, 2009

Part I of Thoughts From Each Game of Bracket Buster Saturday!

This is part I of a game by game review of Bracket Buster Saturday. Before I start, I just wanted to quickly say that a lot of the games went to form, at least what I thought was form. In fact, I believe I correctly picked eleven of the thirteen winners of the two days of Bracketbusters. There was one clear exception and that just proved that team is the best mid major team in the country. What was great about these games is that it showed the country some very talented players who don't get very much publicity such as Gordon Heyward, Marcus Blakely, Mike Trimboli, Gerald Lee, Booker Woodfox, Tyrone Lewis, Kenny Hasbrouck and Ryan Tilemma among others.

Northeastern-Wright State. Watched a lot of this game won by Northeastern 69-57. It was a close game throughout the first half till that late Huskies 16-2 run started with 4:32 left. Tht put Northeastern ahead 37-24 at the half. That was the ball game right there because Wright State simply doesn't have the offensive talent to come back from 13 points. I do love watching Brownell's team play defense. Its just so fundamentally sound. You can see how they made the NCAA tournament two seasons ago with better talent.

Another good sign was the Huskies getting scoring from other than Matt Janning, which the Huskies desperately needed. Eugene Spates had 22 points and Chaisson Allen had 20. The game was also a little more high scoring than I thought. Just shows you the ability Northeastern has. Now hopefully they have "Wrighted" themselves in time for the stretch run in the CAA.

Liberty - Old Dominion. No offense to the Liberty Flames, but watching Seth Curry in this game you really wish that he was at Davidson with his big brother (they recruited him but he wanted to make his own name). The kid can flat out shoot and he led the Flames with 24 points. The Flames did their best in the first half being only down two at halftime, despite a significant size differential. Very interesting to see a four guard offense.

The Monarchs just were too big for the Flames and it showed in the second half. Gerald Lee was flat out dominant shooting 13 of 16 from the field, scoring 26 points. In fact the whole Monarch starting frontcourt (Lee, Ben Finney and Frank Hassell) shot 23 of 27 from the field and scored 53 of the 80 ODU points. You simply can't overcome that and thus a 24 point win for ODU.

Butler - Davidson. This was the only game that I was off on Saturday. The Bulldogs looked like the team they had been for the entire season, sans the past week. They clamped down on Stephen Curry, holding him to 20 points on 2 of 13 from beyond the arc, 6 of 23 overall. Yes, Curry's rhythm seemed off due to his sprained ankle, but give the Bulldogs credit. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Still, I wish the Wildcats gave the ball more to Andrew Lovedale who had a nice day with 15 points on 6 of 6 shooting.

The Wildcats were only down five at the half, and Curry hit a three to cut it to two 34-32. But two threes by Gordon Heyward and Willie Veasley and four free throws by Heyward and that was all she wrote. Gordon Heyward's performance was impressive. He was just deadly from the outside hitting 6 of 12 from three. He had 27 points and also chipped in 9 rebounds. When Butler is on with outside shooting, that opens it more for Matt Howard who had a solid day with 12 points.

Buffalo -Vermont. Marcus Blakely gets most of the publicity, but Mike Trimboli got to show on a national stage how solid he is. Trimboli scored 24 points, had 7 assists and pulled down 9 rebounds. Throw in 9 for 10 free throw shooting and that's a full day. Trimboli has upped his game this season. His assists to turnover ratio is up to 1.75, which is up significantly from the 1.22 junior season he had. His points per game are down but his field goal percentage is up to 47 percent and 38 percent from three. Blakely had his usual solid game with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. But he needs work on his free throw shooting (3 of 10 does not get it done).

You could see early on watching the game that the high tempo pace favored the Catamounts. The Bills simply couldn't keep up nor could they stop Vermont as the Catamounts shot 54 percent from the field. With Miami of Ohio losing as well, it was a very down day for the MAC and I think that's an indicator of the MAAC's season as a whole. I expected a lot more from Kent State and Miami and they have disappointed. In fact, the MAC as a whole went 4-8 in televised and non-televised Bracketbuster play with the top four teams going 1-3 (only Kent State, Northern Illinois, Ball State and Central Michigan won their games).

Miami Ohio - Evansville. Another MAC team fell pray to the home team's tempo. The Redhawks allowed themselves to get into the Aces' uptempo game and thus the 75-61 loss. Miami had a good day shooting from the field, shooting 54 percent (26 of 48) from the field. The problem was that Evansville shot 58 percent from the field and was 21 of 28 from the line. Shy Ely (love that name) wasn't shy from the field as he scored 21 points and Jason Holsinger added 20 for the Aces. The Redhawks were actually up 14 early , 25-11. Thus they were outscored 64-36 the rest of the way. Damn.

Wisconsin Green Bay - Long Beach State. Unfortunately I was on my way to Fairfield so I didn't get a chance to see this game. But I am not surprised by the outcome. The Phoenix are a balanced, high scoring team. The Phoenix shot 55 percent from the field, scored 52 points in the first half, had a 36-14 run in the first half and were up by as many as 24 points. Ryan Tilemma had 30 points on 7 of 10 shooting from three and had 20 points in the first half alone. The Phoenix who have five starters who average in double figures had four starters including Tillema in double figures (Troy Cotton just missed with 9 points). Green Bay shot 13 of 22 from three. No shame in this loss for the 49ers as Larry Anderson had 23 points and 9 rebounds. They just ran into a better team.

Part Two will be later today.

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