Michael Rogner

Perfection: 40-0 Baylor goes out on top

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For the first time in history, a college basketball team has gone 40-0. The Baylor Bears, led by their star Brittney Griner, beat Notre Dame 80-61 to win the women’s National Championship.

Baylor had led by six at halftime. Notre Dame was able to cut the lead to three with 15:09 left in the 2nd half, but then the wheels came off. They were outscored by 16 the rest of the way. Notre Dame had stayed in the game for the first 25+ minutes thanks to poor shooting by Baylor, but once the Bears started making shots it was over. Baylor made all 3 of their 2nd half 3-point attempts, after shooting 1-8 in the first half.

Brittney Griner scored 17 of her 26 in the 2nd half. And she added 13 boards and 5 blocks. This, despite Notre Dame (35-4) using every defense in the book to stop her. They changed so much that announcer Doris Burke called out the Irish defense on just about every possession. And whatever defense they were running, it was designed to keep Brittney Griner from touching the ball.

But even double-teaming Griner at all times couldn’t keep her from dominating, and Griner led the Bears to their 2nd ever National Title. It was the 2nd straight loss in the championship game for the Fighting Irish.

Griner has already stated that she’s coming back for her senior season. But she’s also made it known that her dream is to play for the L.A. Sparks, and the Sparks happen to have the 1st pick in this year’s draft.

Griner and the Bears lead at halftime 34-28

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Despite being double-teamed on virtually every possession by Notre Dame’s zone defense, Baylor star Brittney Griner leads all players with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks at the break. The Bears have a 6-point halftime lead over Notre Dame in the National Championship game for women’s hoops.

Baylor has only shot 12-31 (39%) from the field, including 1-8 from beyond the arc, but have extended possessions with 11 offensive rebounds. Destiny Williams and Odyssey Sims each have 8 points for the Bears.

Sklyar Diggins is leading Notre Dame’s attack, and has matched Brittney Griner with 9 points at half. Notre Dame is 2-4 on 3-pointers, but is being beaten on the offensive glass 11-6, and has made five fewer free throws. Still, they’ve proven that they can win this game, but they’ll need to stop Baylor’s offensive rebounding if that is to happen.

Jorge Brian Diaz leaves Nebraska

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Tim Miles hasn’t been the coach for long at Nebraska, and today he had his first major announcment.  6-11 center Jorge Brian Diaz – who missed the final 14 games of the regular season – is leaving school and returning home to Puerto Rico.

Diaz, a junior, had chronic foot issues this season.

As a sophomore Diaz was 2nd on the team in scoring. This year he averaged 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds. In his career he started 65 of 81 games.

His departure leaves the new head coach in a position that he’ll be breaking in an almost entirely new starting lineup. Four of the five starters for Nebraska were seniors, and the only ju

What is going on at Wake Forest?

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Since Jeff Bzdelik took over the Demon Deacons eight players have either transferred or been kicked out of the program. And that’s in just two years. The latest casualties are starting point guard Tony Chennault, back up point guard Anthony Fields, and big man Carson Desrosiers.

This was a team which spent time at No. 1 in the nation just three years ago. In two years Bzdelik is 5-27 in the ACC.

The Star News addressed this today.

In the end, Bzdelik’s future at Wake will depend not only on how much improvement his team shows next season, but by how much of that team he manages to retain. If he’s the kind coach for whom players don’t want to play, then it’s probably time to start looking for a new coach.

The good news for Wake Forest fans is that Bzdelik has six of his own recruits (and potentially more) coming in with this recruiting class. The bad news is that Bzdelik hasn’t done anything on the court that gives much hope for any but the most optimistic fans. He had a pedestrian record at his previous stops, and many feel he had an inside track on the job simply because of his friendship with Wake’s Athletic Director.

Wake Forest has yet to find its footing since the tragic death of Skip Prosser. Dino Gaudio had some success, but was fired. And three of the players he recruited were later kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons.

So has Jeff Bzdelik simply been setting the stage for Wake’s resurrection by weeding out the players who won’t get him there, or is he running a program that is rudderless?

Weber State’s Damian Lillard officially enters the draft

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Two weeks ago it was reported that Damian Lillard was leaving Weber State and entering the draft. The following day, news outlets received word that he was still considering his options. Today it’s official. The only All-American in the 40-year history of the Big Sky conference is headed to the next level.

“I’d like to thank my teammates who have supported me from day one,” Lillard said. “I’m glad I spent my last four years here,” he said. “After the season, I took time to think about everything. After talking with coach Rahe and my family, I decided to declare myself eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft.”

Lillard, who helped lead the Wildcats to a 25-7 record this season, was the nation’s second-leading scorer with an average of 24.5 points per game. He scored 30 or  more eight times, making 41% of his 3-pointers and 89% of his free throws. He also led his team in assists and steals, and was 2nd in rebounding.

Most mock drafts project him as a mid-1st rounder.

The game within a game: Blocked shots by Davis, Withey

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Blocked shots. Swats. Rejections. Whatever you call them, this game featured a lot. Kentucky blocked 11 shots. Kansas blocked 5. And there were definitely a few that went uncredited.

But everyone knew that this game would feature blocks. Anthony Davis blocks 13.8% of the shots when he’s on the floor.  Jeff Withey is even better, blocking 15.4%. Predicting blocks was about as informative as predicting World Wide Wes would be hugging Kentucky players after the game.

Both Davis and Withey played defense at an elite level tonight. Mostly guarding one another, the two combined to shoot 3-18 from the floor.

Though with blocked shots it’s not always the ones credited in the box scores that deserve all the attention. It also matters which team does a better job altering shots – not simply playing good defense – but causing players to completely change the arc of their shot midway through the course of taking it. Both the Kentucky and Kansas gameplan featured players attacking off the dribble, which gives chances for opportunistic shots blockers like Davis and Withey.

And in that battle, Davis was better than Withey.

Withey played 32 minutes. Davis played 36. Withey blocked four shots. Davis blocked six.  But when it comes to altering shots, Davis was the champ. By my count he caused Kansas players to alter their shots eight times that didn’t result in blocks. Kansas attempted 62 shots, which means Davis affected 23 percent of those attempts

Withey? Just three shot alterations.

Had Withey altered more shots, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game. But it would have been a lot closer.