The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

Leave a comment

Brain surgery motivates Manhattan recruiting ace (New York Post)
The Manhattan Jaspers are one of four teams sitting atop the MAAC standings with a 6-2 conference record, and their eight wins away from Draddy Gymnasium makes them one of college basketball’s most successful road/neutral teams. One person who’s had an active role in this is assistant coach Rasheen Davis, and he overcame personal setbacks to get to where he is today.

Catching up with former Lafayette men’s basketball standout Brian Burke (The Express-Times)
It’s always interesting for fans to read about the things some of their favorite players of the past are up to after hanging up their sneakers, and in this story the focus is former Lafayette guard Brian Burke. Burke, who currently ranks ninth on the school’s all-time assists list, was a member of the Leopards’ last two NCAA tournament teams (2001 and 2002).

Player’s on-court wedding proposal steals show after Long Beach State’s women’s team suffers loss (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
College basketball had itself a wedding proposal this past weekend, and the recipient was Long Beach State women’s basketball player Alex Sanchez. Sanchez’s boyfriend proposed following the 49ers’ 107-102 overtime loss to Cal Poly, capping a wild day at The Pyramid.

ASU basketball coach Herb Sendek in big stretch (AZ Central)
With Arizona State having lost two straight games, the Sun Devils are in need of a reversal of fortune with Utah and Colorado slated to visit this week. And given the fact that the program hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2009, this begins a very important stretch for head coach Herb Sendek’s program.

Maurice Creek has given George Washington a healthy outlook (Washington Post)
George Washington guard Maurice Creek has been one of the best stories in college basketball, finally healthy after dealing with various injuries throughout his time at Indiana. As a result the Colonials, picked to finish in the bottom half of the Atlantic 10 during the preseason, have shown signs of being a credible contender.

Cougars build confidence with Bay Area sweep (Deseret News)
After losing four straight games away from Provo, BYU picked up wins at Santa Clara and San Francisco this weekend. With a renewed confidence and players more comfortable with their current roles, Dave Rose’s Cougars could be poised to make a run in the WCC.

Manuel feels UConn in middle ground financially with power conferences (Connecticut Post)
With the recent discussion that the five most powerful Division I conferences could end up governing themselves to a certain extent, schools outside of the group find themselves in a tough spot. One such school is UConn, and the way in which they move forward in order to keep up with programs in richer conferences will determine the long-term health of the athletic department.

Jabari Parker learns scouting report, turns it against NC State in Duke blowout (Raleigh News & Observer)
Much had been made of Jabari Parker’s decreased productivity in the days leading up to No. 23 Duke’s game against NC State, with the freshman not playing at the level he did to start the season. But a renewed focus and a better understanding of what opponents are looking to do to him resulted in Parker returning to the form many grew accustomed to seeing.

VIDEO: South Carolina celebrates Final Four trip by dousing Frank Martin in water

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.

The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/846124174259118080/video/1

VIDEO: Darius Rucker tears up as South Carolina advances to the Final Four

Leave a comment

Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.

This isn’t really a secret.

Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:

You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:

Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.

VIDEO: Did South Carolina get away with a blatant travel after risky full-court pass?

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
1 Comment

South Carolina is heading to its first Final Four in school history after a 77-70 win over No. 4 seed Florida in the East Region on Sunday.

But the No. 7 seed Gamecocks’ historic win also came with some late controversy.

With South Carolina clinging to a 70-68 lead with 53.7 seconds left, the Gamecocks opted to make an extremely risky full-court pass on an inbounds play. The pass was caught at the other end of the floor by South Carolina’s Duane Notice.

Then Notice took about four or five steps before he was fouled by Florida’s Chris Chiozza to send him to the line.

It looks like Notice had a pretty blatant travel on the play. It’s a ridiculous catch in traffic that has to make South Carolina football fans proud, but Notice is clearly walking after getting the ball. Notice knocked down two free throws after Chiozza’s foul to make it a two-possession game as it became 72-68 with 50 seconds left.

Florida was obviously flat in the second half and didn’t deserve to win on Sunday. But it makes you wonder what might have happened if a travel was called on Notice. The Gators would have had a chance to tie with under a minute left instead of it being a two-possession game.

South Carolina advances to first Final Four in program history with win over Florida

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

South Carolina entered this year’s NCAA tournament, their first NCAA tournament since 2004 and their fifth NCAA tournament in the last 43 years, having never won two consecutive tourney games in the history of the program.

On Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden, Frank Martin led the Gamecocks to their fourth straight win and their first trip to the Final Four.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 11 of his 26 points in the final 10 minutes, leading No. 7 seed South Carolina back from a 40-33 halftime deficit for a 77-70 win over No. 4 seed Florida. P.J. Dozier added 17 points and Chris Silva finished with a critical 13 points and nine boards, coming up with some huge offensive rebounds and hustle plays defensively in the second half.

After shooting 7-for-12 from three in the first half, Florida missed their all 14 attempts from beyond the arc in the second 20 minutes. South Carolina’s defense, which is second nationally this season, according to KenPom, and which allowed 40 points to the Gators in the first half, buckled down in the final minutes, forcing turnovers and taking the Gators out of what they wanted to do offensively. They shot just 11-for-35, or 31.4 percent, from the floor after halftime and didn’t get a clean look at the rim in the final five minutes of the game.

That’s how South Carolina plays. That’s who they are. It’s physical and it’s ugly and it’s just so effective when they’re able to make shots at the other end of the floor. And that is where this team has changed in March. The Gamecocks lost six of their last nine games heading into the NCAA tournament, failing to score more than 1.00 points-per-possession in five of those six losses.

But the story of this game isn’t how this South Carolina team has changed.

The story is how the program has changed.

The Gamecocks were a 10-win team that went 2-14 in the SEC the year before they Frank Martin away from Kansas State, a hire that was made thanks to a falling out with his athletic director, and boy, does that look like a coup now. He was responsible for leading Kansas State, which isn’t exactly a program known for basketball success, to their only Elite 8 since 1988. He’s now led South Carolina to their first Final Four in the history of the program.

South Carolina will advance to Phoenix to take on No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the Final Four.

A season of highs and lows ends for Kansas in the Elite 8 again

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
2 Comments

For the second season in a row, Kansas was one-win shy of a Final Four appearance, falling to Oregon, 74-60, in the Elite Eight on Friday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

This comes a year after Kansas, as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, fell to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite 8.

Just as stars such as Perry Ellis struggled in that regional final, so did KU’s freshman phenom Josh Jackson, whose quick two personal fouls that saddled him on the bench and appeared to take him out of the game mentally. Devonte’ Graham, averaging 20.0 points per game in the tournament, was 0-for-7 from the field. Frank Mason III’s first-half performance assured that Oregon would completely run away with the game before halftime.

The loss put an end to a tumultuous season for the Jayhawks.

Kansas entered the 2016-17 season as one of the favorites to win the national championship. The Jayhawks went on to win the Big 12 regular season title for an unprecedented 13th consecutive season. Frank Mason III, in the eyes of many, was the wire-to-wire national player of the year.

However, for all its accomplishments on the court, Kansas faced more than its share of issues off-the-court. Lagerald Vick, who was under university investigation for allegedly striking a female student. Carlton Bragg was arrested — and subsequently suspended — for drug paraphernalia. There was also the affidavit released a day before the start of the NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks, detailing the incident outside a Lawerence bar from December involving both Vick and Josh Jackson. Even Devonte Graham’s arrest for an unpaid ticket made headlines during this string of non-basketball related news.

The Jayhawks downplayed talks of distraction before the start of the NCAA Tournament and backed it up by dominating opponents through the first three rounds. The average margin of victory was 30.0, and that includes victories over Michigan State and a 32-point beatdown of a Purdue team that held a massive mismatch on the interior.

It looked like Self was destined to add to his Hall of Fame résumé; a third trip to the Final Four — first since 2012 — was in front of essentially a home crowd. Instead, Oregon handed the Jayhawks their worst tournament defeat in the Bill Self era.

Seven times under Self, KU has made the Elite Eight and was sent home.

Perhaps, all would have been forgiven — or at the very least, overshadowed — had KU cut down the nets in Arizona.

Instead, its season ended in an all too familiar place.