2012-2013 NBCSports.com Postseason Awards

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trey Burke, Michigan

We wrote about this on Thursday, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about this again. The bottom-line? Burke is averaging 19.1 points and 6.9 assists while posting one of the best individual seasons in the history of the efficiency era. He’s playing on a top ten team that is just as young as Kentucky’s team was when they won the 2012 National Title, and he does everything for them. Oh, and if this shot had fallen to the right instead of to the left, the Wolverines would be co-Big Ten champions.

Otto Porter is phenomenal, but you cannot forget about the way he played early in the season. Victor Oladipo has been great, but he’s a glorified role player (that’s a compliment) on arguably the best team in the country. Burke’s carried one of the youngest teams in the country.

Co-COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Larranaga, Miami, and Jim Crews, St. Louis

I was glad when our voting ended with Larranaga and Crews tied, because I think that it’s impossible to differentiate between these two.

What Larranaga did at Miami this year was amazing. He took a team that no one expected much out of at a program that’s an afterthought at their own school, let alone in the ACC, and took them to an outright regular season title. He turned Shane Larkin from a kid that was going to DePaul to an ACC Player of the Year candidate as a sophomore. And he did it with the guys that he had; he didn’t need to bring in a dozen McDonald’s All-American and JuCo transfers.

But Crews?

He kept a team together after the coach that recruited all of them left the team in the offseason and passed away on Dec. 1st. Read this story. And now think about the fact that the Billikens are the outright winners of the Atlantic 10 despite playing the first month of the season without their starting point guard, Kwamain Mitchell. What he’s done on the court is incredible. What he’s done with this group off it is probably even more special. He deserves the recognition.

source:  FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Despite losing two key players at the start of the season to injury, the Cowboys surprised much of the country and finished third in the Big 12. The biggest reason for that? Marcus Smart. Yes, Markel Brown turned himself into an excellent and dangerous perimeter scorer and LeBryan Nash took over his fair share of games, but it was Smart’s intangibles — the leadership, the winning attitude, the numerous big plays late in games — to go along with his 15.1 points, 5.7 boards, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals that made the difference.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

This was easy. Olynyk went from a seldom-used sophomore to a first-team all-american as a redshirt junior. His emergence is the reason that the Zags went from being a good team to the No. 1 team in the country. Any argument to the contrary is foolish.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jeff Withey, Kansas

Withey’s shot-blocking ability is well-known at this point. He’s sixth-nationally in block percentage, anchoring the defense of a team that is sixth in the country (according to Kenpom), while leading the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage and defensive two-point FG%. And while he didn’t finished the season as the nation’s leading shot-blocker, the biggest reason for that is the way that teams game-planned around him.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: