Dan Patrick recalls some emotional memories of his time with NC State coach Jim Valvano as the NCAA tournament gets underway. Valvano led the Wolfpack to a national championship over a heavily favored Houston team in 1983. He passed away of cancer ten years later in 1993. Since his death, his words in a moving speech at the ESPY Awards have remained a rallying cry in the hopes of raising money for cancer research.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
As I watched John Gillon’s shot soar through the air, crash off the backboard and fly through the rim to beat No. 10 Duke at the buzzer, I found myself thinking about ‘Jurassic Park.’
Syracuse, like life, finds a way.
The Orange, for nearly the last two seasons, have simply navigated a path toward their destination, even if it looked blocked before they got started.
Gillon’s banked in 3-pointer at the buzzer, which gave the Orange a 78-75 win over the Blue Devils, is emblematic of Syracuse prevailing in the least expected ways.
The Orange came into the night squarely on the bubble. They had lost their last three games to drop their record to 16-12. They trailed Duke by as many as nine only to take the lead and then give right back.
It didn’t matter. The Orange found a way, however unlikely, to win the game.
That’s been their M.O. since last season. Syracuse dropped five of its last six games of that year. The Orange got blown out by Louisville and Pitt before losing close ones to North Carolina, Florida State and then Pitt in the ACC tournament.
Despite the swoon, the selection committee found a way to slot them as the 10th seed in the Midwest, where they blew through the first two rounds, snuck by Gonzaga and then came roaring back from 16 down in Chicago to defeat top-seed Virginia to earn the program’s sixth Final Four appearance.
They found a way.
With their NCAA tournament hopes very much in the balance against Duke, it was very much the same.
Luke Kennard, who scored 23 points and had five assists, took the ball with just over 10 seconds to play outside the 3-point arc. The 6-foot-6 sophomore found the 6-foot Gillon on an island trying to guard him alone. Kennard went left, then right – unable to find a shred of daylight as Gillon denied him an inch – and finally spun back left. With him with every step was Gillon, who contested Kennard’s jumper from the elbow and watched it clank off the rim into teammate Tyus Battle’s hands.
Battle passed across the court to Gillon with five seconds left. Gillon raced in a straight line across half court and was met by three Blue Devils. He pulled up, had a slight double-clutch as he gathered himself in mid-air and launched Syracuse’s chance to win into the awaiting space.
The backboard lights lit up right before impact, signalling the expiration of the clock, but also drawing attention to what was about to happen there in tenths of a second.
Ricochet and through. The Orange found a way.
Where they go from here is anyone’s guess. There’s no guarantee of another magical Final Four run, or even an NCAA tournament berth, though that certainly looks prevailingly likely now.
This loss doesn’t really wound Duke, who saw its seven-game win streak stopped, but it props up the Orange to continue to pursue their goals. Any which way they can.
No. 3 Kansas has now tied UCLA for the most consecutive conference titles one program has won as a 87-68 win over TCU locked up at least a share of the 13th straight Big 12 championship that Bill Self has won in Lawrence.
Self already held the record fro the most consecutive league titles that a single coach has won; John Wooden won the majority of UCLA’s 13 straight titles, but head coaches Gene Bartow and Gary Cunningham were part of that streak as well.
Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham combined for 37 points and 11 assists in the win, and Josh Jackson chipped in with yet another double-double, adding 15 points, 11 boards and four assists to go along with a tweaked ankle, but the story of this game is the record.
It was a foregone conclusion after they had beaten Baylor in Waco last weekend — Kansas wasn’t going to lose their last four games of the season, are you nuts? — but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.
The popular refrain for people that aren’t Kansas fans is to let everyone know that this record occurred in the Big 12, a conference where the Jayhawks are the only elite basketball program. UCLA has to contend with Arizona. Duke has North Carolina and Louisville. Indiana has Michigan State. You get the point, and frankly, there is some merit to that point, even when you factor in just how good the Big 12 is and has been in the KenPom conference rankings. Those numbers stem from the fact that the league is as deep as any conference, and the bottom of the league tends to be as good or better than the bottom of just about any league.
Put another way, the Big 12’s computer numbers always look great because the gap between the second-best team and the second-worst team is as small as any power conference on a consistent basis.
I say second-best because Kansas — as a program, historically, and as a team, annually — is a cut above the field. I think we can all agree on that.
But it’s still a dumb argument, because even the best program in a conference has down years. Gonzaga, who is clearly the class of the WCC, didn’t win the regular season title in 2012, snapping Mark Few’s streak of 11 straight seasons as champion. Or how about this: Kentucky, who is the SEC’s version of Kansas and is rolling under Coach Cal these days, didn’t win the SEC regular season title in 2011, 2013 or 2014.
Perhaps the most impressive part of all of this is that Self hasn’t slowed down in the one-and-done era, where program continuity is so difficult to achieve.
That should tell you everything you need to know about this streak.
It should lock up Bill Self’s trip to the Hall of Fame this spring.
And if it doesn’t convince you about how incredible this streak is or how good Self is at his job, then there is no hope for you.
Another Madison Square Garden tenant has been brought into the feud between Charles Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan.
How, exactly, do the Red Storm figure in? Well, the story comes courtesy of former St. John’s and NBA standout Jayson Williams, who spoke to Gio & Jones of CBS Sports Radio.
“So, how we did it at St. John’s was when you were in your senior year, and the guys who made it before you goes to the NBA, that guy would give you,” Williams said, according to CBS Sports, “let’s call it like a loan so you don’t have to go out and get an agent or put St. John’s in any trouble with the NCAA. So when my year was up and I was a senior, it was Mark Jackson. Now if anybody knows Mark Jackson, Mark is the greatest human being on Earth – but cheap as the day is long. That man is so frugal.”
As such, Jackson didn’t lend Williams any money, but his teammate on the 1989-90 Knicks, Oakley, did. More from Williams:
“He said, ‘Come here, man. Once you ask somebody once and they ain’t going to give it to you, you don’t beg. What you do is follow me home after.’ Went home and he gave me 20 (and said) ‘When you get drafted, I’m going to want 25 back.’”
And after that the two became fast friends, even if Oakley charged Williams “mafia rates” on return, Williams said. Williams has been one of many outspoken defenders of Oakley, who is in a very public dispute with Dolan after an ugly incident at MSG.
Williams averaged 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his final season with St. John’s before being taken. in the first round of the 1990 draft.
Oakley was one of the few people that came to prison to visit Williams in prison after Williams was sentenced for fatally shooting a hired limo driver in 2002.
“Charles Oakley came to see me once every month like clockwork,” Williams said. “This is why people are so adamant about supporting Charles Oakley.”
The latest NBC Sports bracketology can be found here. That is where the seeds you see listed below come from.
This post will be updated throughout the night.
STILL TO PLAY
Vanderbilt at Tennessee (RPI: 50, KenPom: 42, first four out), 6:30 p.m.
Michigan (RPI: 52, KenPom: 27, No. 10 seed) at Rutgers, 6:30 p.m.
No. 10 Duke at Syracuse (RPI: 84, KenPom: 48, first four out), 7:00 p.m.
Pitt (RPI: 59, KenPom: , next four out) at Wake Forest (RPI: 40, KenPom: 31, next four out), 7:00 p.m.
TCU (RPI: 54, KenPom: 43, play-in game) at No. 3 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
Southern Illinois at Illinois State (RPI: 36, KenPom: 50, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Louis at VCU (RPI: 26, KenPom: 41, No. 9 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Xavier at Seton Hall (RPI: 47, KenPom: 59, play-in game), 7:00 p.m.
Texas A&M at Arkansas (RPI: 33, KenPom: 51, No. 9 seed), 8:30 p.m.
No. 6 Oregon at Cal (RPI: 39, KenPom: 47, No. 10 seed), 9:00 p.m.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State (RPI: 51, KenPom: 28, No. 11 seed), 9:00 p.m.
Providence (RPI: 69, KenPom: 58, first four out) at No. 23 Creighton, 9:00 p.m.
A man was arrested in Durham on Feb. 9th, the day of the Duke-North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, for selling counterfeit tickets to the game, according to the Durham Herald-Sun.
The man, a 24-year old from Ft. Myers, Florida, named Andrew Frank Arvai, was busted in a sting that was set up by someone that had bought fake tickets from Arvai before.
DPD spokesman Wil Glenn alleged that Arvai placed an ad on Craigslist for the tickets and set up a meeting with a ticket broker from stubhub.com at Northgate to sell the tickets to the Feb. 9 game.
Glenn said the broker had purchased tickets from Arvai in the past and the Feb. 9 transaction was a sting. The broker called mall security and alerted a police officer that he was going to meet the scalper, who he accused of selling phony tickets.
According to Durham jail records, he was charged with four counts of scalping tickets, four counts of counterfeiting a trademark and four counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.