Why UConn’s dominance is good for women’s basketball

Women’s basketball is in the back of everyone’s mind for most, if not the entire year. Some may have never seen a game in their life, or are more drawn to the incredible dunks and flash the men’s side offers. But every restaurant and bar had the UConn Mississippi State game on Saturday night, and it was really really cool.

Geno’s squad was riding on 111 straight wins, and unless you live under a rock, you know the Huskies blow out basically every team that comes their way. The betting odds were absolutely ridiculous too. To win $100, you had to put down $7,000. Yup, seven thousand big ones.

Normal fans think UConn isn’t good for the game. Who wants to see 10 All-Americans win 111 games in a row? But we’re talking about it. All major sports stations and websites have an actual reason to talk about it, and people actually care.

Put any other team in that Final Four game. Say it was Mississippi State versus Clemson. No one is watching it. It’s not on ESPN. Bars are not filling up and going crazy after a game winner. Villins attract eyes. And for the majority of people begging for someone to take down UConn, they won. They’re reading about the game, and they will have a better view on women’s college basketball.

So thank you Geno, for building this great dynasty and forcing people to care about women’s sports. Sure we all love watching the Duke men, or Kentucky’s 5-star recruit starting lineup, but women’s basketball is pure. It’s fundamental. And it deserves more respect.

Geno is a great coach and a role model for all coaches (looking at you Zach Collins). Just look at what he said after the game. “Look, nobody’s won more than we’ve won,” he told reporters after the game. “I understand losing, believe it or not. We haven’t lost in a while, but I understand it. I know how to appreciate when other people win.”

Keep talking about UConn, and make an effort to follow women’s sports. They give just as much effort as the men and deserve so much credit. Check out college softball, it is personally my favorite women’s sport to watch and has so much emotion, especially with the great teams.

South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell is no joke

Who had South Carolina as the last SEC team in the tournament? Nobody? Well actually, 0.6% of brackets had the Gamecocks in the Final Four, and that may only be the students and alumni down in Columbia.

Sindarius Thornwell // AP

But just like any Cinderella team, there’s a star. And he goes by the name of Sindarius Thornwell. He’s been great all season, and now that he’s is on the big stage, everyone is falling in love.

He gives you all the grit and toughness you need out of a player, but is so efficient, he can lead a team in points, boards, and fill up the stat sheet. He can also go off for 40+, like he did against Alabama.

The kid is averaging 21 points, 7 and 3, and most people didn’t know who he was, when in reality, he actually won SEC player of the year. He was the player that should have swayed you when you were picking your upsets.

As for the nexxt step, Thornwell could take the same path as another Cinderella story hero, Gordon Hayward. Both players’ draft stocks shot up, and both are big, versatile shooters.

On DraftExpress, writers questioned Thornwell’s explosiveness and speed against longer defenders, saying he will have trouble against longer defenders on Baylor, then Florida. Each game he has showed out and is playing his heart out in front of NBA scouts.

You should be rooting for Thornwell. He’s a senior, he had the chance to transfer to a better team and he stayed, and he’s a well-spoken, nice kid. Go Gamecocks.

Tweets of the tournament: The first two rounds

It’s 2017, and most viewers of any sporting event have their phone, tablet, or laptop right by their side crawling through the deep dark depths of Twitter, along with other social media sites. Whether it’s a meme or a hot take, Twitter can be as entertaining as any game, and the NCAA tournament doesn’t upset with giving content.

(FYI: There will be NO such thing as a Jordan meme in this post. They are simply overused and too easy. Plus, I already hit my Jordan meme quota for this blog, (1), and you can find that post here)

Here are… the tweets of the tournament (so far)

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Alright, this takes some serious analysis. First of all, Peter Griffin got shafted. He may not be winning any father-of-the-year awards, but he is MUCH more funny than Randy Marsh, and Family Guy is the superior show.

Darth Vader was incorrectly seeded, he has one of the most iconic lines in movie history.

God vs. Joseph of Nazareth … interesting decision to include this matchup.

LaVar Ball slander? A dad who believes in his kids and does everything he can to help them succeed? Questionable. Yeah, he spews dumb takes and is embarrassing his family, but I’d rather have a dad believe that I can actually be better than Steph Curry.

Final thought: If Danny Tanner doesn’t win, I will unfollow every Barstool related account. Hands down the best dad in history. Hugs for all.

Classic Duke shaming. Wouldn’t be March without it. In fairness, Luke Kennard is actually a really nice kid, and his story at Duke is admirable, but this may be an actual quote.

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Woah woah woah, who has the freaking time to make a twitter for their dog. Why would a dog fill out a bracket? Did she have Gonzaga winning? Maybe Butler? I bet Izzy the Basset Hound is glad Villanova was knocked out.

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Double Duke shaming!! I genuinely feel bad for this kid. I want to care about something this much, and props to him for caring that much about Northwestern basketball.

Also, isn’t it pretty ironic how the moment we remember most about this game featuring Northwestern (one of the most prestigious journalism schools in America) is a crying fan?

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This was basically me after not having access to internet during the second day of the tournament. What is worse though? Slowly seeing your teams fail to beat a team you’ve never heard of? Or checking your phone at midnight and seeing all of the red X’s next to your picks? Kind of like the band-aid argument.

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I never really got this meme, mostly because I never knew the origin. But it’s still funny for all of you slackers who forgot to fill out a bracket.

NCAA March Madness: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Coaching

Coaching is one of my favorite parts of college sports. It’s one thing for pro coaches to deal with grown men, but the greatest coaches are the ones who can keep a solid reputation while juggling intense recruitment pressure, along with 18 year olds who think their s*** don’t stink.

March Madness throws coaches into the fire of national television and we get to see some of the highlights, and lowlights, of collegiate coaching. Let’s start with the good.

The Good: Geno Auriemma

If you haven’t seen his press conference already, you need to take a listen.

THIS is how coaches need to recruit and value their players. Get kids who care. Who want to win. Some may say that for certain college players, they just need to perform and they’ll be set for the draft (every Kentucky player ever) but just look at how much Lonzo Ball’s stock is rising because he wins. And look how little Markelle Fultz is being talked about. Winning matters.

Geno is right too. He has an obvious advantage of having All-Americans on his bench, but if you’ve ever watched a UConn women’s game, they have heart. A lot more than any other team they play.

Although we love to see the blue bloods of men’s basketball shine, there is a discernible difference in body language between a Kentucky or Duke team, vs. a mid major who got hot at the right time and are upsetting teams to the sweet 16. We love seeing raw emotion out of players, and that’s what Geno is preaching. Get players who would rather win than put up 25. Keep preaching Geno.

The Bad: Jay Wright

Wright’s knock as a coach was that he couldn’t coach his team in March, playing good teams each time they hit the court. With the national championship win last year, haters were silent.

Just when the country was starting to have faith in Villanova’s ability to win in March, head coach Jay Wright rips it all away with his horrific decision to leave the game to Josh Hart down the stretch in the round of 32 vs. Wisconsin.

Take a look:

Really? This is what you draw up? I get Josh Hart is a National Player of the Year candidate, but c’mon. Get some movement and get a good shot. And it’s not even one of those “Wright would have looked like a genius if Hart made the shot.” He literally told him to do what he wants. He ain’t LeBron.

Good luck getting the March Choker monkey off your back now, Jay.

The Ugly: Chris Collins (Northwestern Head Coach)

Just watch before I say anything:

He became my least favorite head coach. If you didn’t watch the game, yes, Northwestern got hosed on multiple calls and certainly wasn’t fair officiating, and the call he is reacting on was outrageous. But dude, handle that internally. You just look like an ass. A child. I’m embarrassed for the Northwestern players who worked their tails off to work through the calls and handle the refs in a professional manner. This is your first NCAA tournament year ever. Don’t act like you deserve anything.

Also, at the time of this call, THERE WERE 5 MINUTES LEFT IN THE GAME! Go get another stop and move on.

Word to Geno, talk about body language. Collins’ baiting the reporter and sarcastic jabs is a disgrace to coaching at any level.

The irony of the graphic “Northwestern outscored 38-20 in the first half” makes his conference much more ridiculous. Don’t go down 20 at the half and maybe you can afford to have missed calls on possessions.

The worst part is, Collins received a technical after arguing after the fact, which created a 4 point swing in favor of Gonzaga.

Sorry Northwestern. Gonzaga was still the better team, and you have a coaching problem. Better luck next year.

Michael Jordan delivers a speech to remember

Michael, Michael, Michael. As if the Jordan face wasn’t enough for the internet world to make fun of one of the most iconic athletes in human history. MJ added another gem of a meme to his legacy, and it has caused a stir in the college basketball community, and has spread to the deep, dark depths of “sports Twitter” and Reddit.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, heres the video. It’s pure gold. (Go to 1:57 to hear the line of you don’t want to listen to the entire speech.)

The ceiling is the roof. Inspiring. Goosebumps. Chalk that right up next to Herb Brooks from Team USA and the “Our Deepest Fear” speech from Coach Carter.

Am I being too hard on the guy? I mean, he only won 6 championships and made Kwame Brown cry. The answer is no, the guy is the best basketball player to ever live. Seriously, simply think about what you’re going to say before blurting it out. Be better.

Here’s how the internet reacted:

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We all love you MJ, no matter how much time people waste making memes of you, we will always remember the glory days. Now, we thank you for entertaining us while we mindlessly scroll through Twitter.

Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson Lead Top Draft Prospects to Watch for in March

Ah, it’s that time of year again. Selection Sunday, printing out a fresh, blank 64-team bracket, and cramming all the research you can before picks lock. It’s March Madness.

In terms of next-level talent, this year is special. We will be seeing tons of top talent that will soon be studs in the NBA. I’ll be using the mock draft from Draft Express, take a look at it here. Here’s who to watch for:

(It’s a shame that I can’t be writing about Markelle Fultz, who is the consensus first overall pick. To make a long story short, Washington has miserably failed to create a winning scheme and get players who deserve to play in the Pac-12.) Buuuut let’s move on.

1. Lonzo Ball, UCLA

Lonzo Ball // AP
Lonzo Ball // AP

UCLA has a chance to grab themselves a #1 seed (depending on if they can win/get in the Pac-12 championship game), which all but guarantees the Bruins a few games on national TV. Ball will be the feature point guard in March, and will be a top-3 pick in this year’s draft.

He’s good. Elite shot, crisp passer, IQ off the charts, but please don’t listen to his father telling media he doesn’t need a brand or that he’ll be as good as Jordan. He’s not THAT good. Hopefully injured forward TJ Leaf will be 100% so the Bruins will be healthy. Full description and strengths and weakness’ video is here.

2. Josh Jackson, Kansas636118814906173134-xxx-josh-jackson-13027-85583278

Bill Self may have him playing a forward roll in his peculiar four-guard system, but this kid is electric. See my older blog post to read what I think of the latest talented Kansas freshmen.

Jackson may not even be the best player on his team, but the Jayhawks seem to spread the ball around and let the hot player shine. His ability to pass and rebound allows him to put up gaudy numbers, and his overall game will translate well to the NBA.

Jackson’s lack of a consistent 3-pt jump shot is holding him back from being one of the best players in the country. Based off pure athleticism, he’s be a top pick, and his polished game only helps his case. Here’s his strengths and weakness’ to see for yourself.

3. Jayson Tatum, Duke maxresdefault

The Blue Devils are an interesting team this year, and with all of their talent blah blah blah, they should be better (read my last post), but there is mixed speculation about the highly anticipated freshman. Some mock drafts have him going as high as 3, and some drop him out of the top 8, sometimes 10.

He may have shut some of the critics up after great preferences in Duke’s final two regular season games versus ranked Florida State and North Carolina (check out his stats here).

NBA Draft Net compares Tatum to Danny Granger and…pause for excitement, Shane Battier. I know, they were both good role players and that’s what a lot of the NBA is today, but there isn’t a ton of upside with Tatum. He doesn’t excel in one part of his game. Check his strength and weakness videos courtesy of DraftExpress.

4. Johnathan Isaac, Florida State NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 24 NIT Season Tip-Off - Temple v Florida State

Johnathan Isaac is projected to be the 6th pick in this year’s draft, but not many people know about him. In terms of potential, Isaac has the upper hand on Jayson Tatum, who play similar positions.

The comparison Isaac is linked to is Kevin Garnett, yes, The Big Ticket. Although the comparison game is one I very rarely play, I cans see it, and the entire nation will be able to see if Florida State can make a decent run in the tournament (spoiler alert: I think they will.)

Isaac is 6’10”, and has the elite athleticism and motor to be useful as soon as he gets to the NBA. He can hit a jump shot and will project to be able to hit an NBA three. His weakness is that he sometimes gets lost on the floor and can get lost in the flow of a game. BUT THE POTENTIAL!!! Check out his game for yourself

Gonzaga, Baylor, Duke fall, where do they stand?

As we inch closer towards March, we’re bound to see some wacky weekends full of upsets, and this was one of those weekends.

BYU defeats Gonzaga on Saturday // AP

First, Gonzaga received their first loss thanks to BYU, who have defeated the Bulldogs while they were ranked in each of the last three years. But with wins over #4 Arizona, #13 Florida, Iowa State, and two wins over conference rival #20 Saint Mary’s, the Zags shouldn’t be worried about losing their #1 seed come tournament time.

Baylor now has lost 5 out of their last 8 games, and their inconsistent play around likely Wooden Award finalist Johnathan Motley has crippled their chances of being taken seriously in March. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier either. The Bears will be heading to Morgantown to face #10 West Virginia. Adding to the challenge, Baylor will be without point guard Manu Lecomte, so good luck trying to beat Coach Huggin’s press in that environment.

I’m still waiting for Coach K to kick his team into gear. They have to, right? They better, or my bracket will be destroyed. They have so much talent on this team, but from what I’ve seen, they don’t feed off of each other well, and the stunt in Harry Gile’s development isn’t working in The Blue Devil’s favor. In recent years, Coach K has done well when he has elite big men at his disposal (Jahlil Okafor), and has had early exits in March when he’s forced to play small ball (Jabari Parker vs. Mercer). I’m praying Duke gets it together and makes a deep tournament run, because college basketball is better when everyone hated Duke for being too good. And really, who wants to see this?