North Carolina’s 90-57 loss to Florida State was an embarrassing and humbling experience for Roy Williams’ team.
But when he took his entire team — except for five walk-ons – off the court in the final seconds, it wasn’t to avoid further embarrassment. It was a cautionary move. Williams figured the crowd would be ready to rush the court to celebrate a win against the nation’s No. 5 team.
And he was right. The crowd came, and came in a hurry.
“Let’s make sure that we understand that I was not trying to embarrass Florida State by pretending that they could not control the crowd,” Williams told the Raleigh News & Observer. “That’s not what I was trying to do at all. I was just trying to protect our team. We had an ugly incident at Las Vegas and one of our female managers got knocked down.”
Can’t say I disagree with Williams there. Court rushes rarely leave anyone unscathed and occasionally turn ugly for the players. Tough to avoid when you have thousands of people swarming the floor. They’re awesome and a part of college hoops. But they can be bad.
Besides, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton agreed with Williams that leaving would be a good idea.
“I want to be clear to one thing: I wanted very much for Roy to take his team off the floor, so that they wouldn’t get caught up in the excitement and jubilance of fans,’’ Hamilton told Robbi Pickeral. “It wasn’t a negative on his part, or anything disrespectful. As a matter of fact, I suggested he do that. Because it’s college basketball, and the students and fans get excited … I just thought it would be in the best interest for all of us, with 15 seconds to go and us up like we were … I didn’t see anything wrong with that.”
Fair enough. If the Heels couldn’t handle anything the Seminoles did Saturday, why would the crowd be any different?
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.