Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tournament Journal - 3/26/2005

Pregame

3:00 I've tuned to KEYE's Coverage. Our schedule today: West Virginia-Louisville followed by Illinois-Arizona.

3:22 They just mentioned Kevin Pittsnogle's 3-point shooting ability. My fear with him is that because of his slim build and 3 point shooting ability, the NBA folks are going to try to make him another Dirk Nowitzki

3:27 Seth Green Says Louisville is going to win because they can hit 3's in the corner. Even though he's been wrong most of the tournament, he's right because the weak point of the 1-3-1 zone is along the baseline

Louisville-West Virginia

3:30 We go out to Albuquerque, where the over-excitable Gus Johnson, and his partner Len Elmore (who basically carries this pair) are calling the action

3:34 PSP Ad. I love the PSP. A friend of mine got his hands on one, and I got to play it. The graphics and processor are comparable to a current-gen game system. If I were a rich man (la de da de da de da de da) I'd get one

3:35 You know, Tracy Wolfson is kinda cute... Anyway, they've cut to a shot of John Belien trying to inspire his troops

3:39 Starting lineups

Louisville: Larry O'Bannon, Fransisco Garcia, Taquan Dean (I think my brother has a black belt in Taquan Dean, I'm not sure), Ellis Myles, and Juan Palacios

West Virginia: J.D. Collins, John Herber, Kevin Pittsnogle, Tyrone Sally, and Mike Gansey

3:40 And we're underway in Albuquerque as Louisville controlls the tip

3:45 It's feels like a dagger to the heart whenever Gus mentions the Red Raiders losing to West Virginia. Yeah, it was going to happen. Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

3:48 We're at the first TV Time out, tied at 3. There's been a lot of good defense and bad shot selection on both teams so far. They say that some games are a clinic in how to play basketball, this is a clinic on how to pick bad shots.

3:52 The Mountaineers have opened up a 6-0 "run" on 2 three point shots and a lot of misses in between.

3:55 The run is now 16-2. West Virginia is settling into their offense and Louisville can't find it's rhythm on either end of the court. It would help if And Pitino just looks stunned. Wow.

3:59 You never know how tough it is to spell "Pittsnogle" until you actually try to type it.

4:01 TV Timeout: 19-7 Mountaineers.

4:04 Louisville just had an offensive possession that sort of defines their half to this point: they did what you're supposed to against the 1-3-1. They got it inside along the baseline to Palacios, got it out to Brandon Jenkins, who was wide freaking open because the defense collapsed on Palacios, and Jenkins clanked the 3. Even when they execute perfectly, the shots won't fall.

4:08 TV Timeout with 6:48 to go West Virginia 27, Louisville 11. Anyone know what Louisville's lowest point total for a half is?

4:10 By the way, Louisville's 3-point shooting: 1-9, 11%. That's like batting .111 for all you baseball stat folks out there. Well below the Mendoza line.

4:15 Bad sign if you're a Cardinal Fan... Ellis Myles just went off on the ref for a foul call. I'm not sure if his complaints are legit because it was kind of away from the ball and I couldn't see it, but it's not good to a Cardinal player lose his head in the first half. Maybe Pitino can settle him down during the TV timeout.

4:21 Louisville goes on a 5-0 run out of the TV timeout to make the score 38-23 and John Belien wisely calls timeout before the momentum completely switches.

4:24 Ouch. Mike Gansey just hit the deck after a hard foul from Francisco Garcia. Gansey composes himself and makes 2 free throws.

4:27 Halftime. More Tracy Wolfson. Rrrrrrrrr.

Anyway, West Virginia 40, Louisville 27. Louisville's 5-0 run streched to 9-2 by halftime, but they are still down 13. I don't know how you can ever feel good about being down double digits, but at least the Cardinals are over the mental blocks posed by facing an unusual defense. West Virginia, on the other hand needs to settle down and keep making shots. It was the Mountaineers going cold in the last 2:00 of the first half that paced that run.

4:34 By the way, West Virginia's shooting percentages: 64% from the field, 71% from beyond the arc! Yikes! Nice numbers for a 3-point line/shot clock era team.

(Somewhere in this break, the second half got underway)

4:58 Sorry, stepped away to take care of my laundry for a moment and missed the first 5 minutes of the second half. Oops. Anyway, Louisville hasn't really cut into the lead at all. It's still West Virginia 52, Louisville 40 with 14:29 left to go.

5:05 TV Timeout. West Virginia went to man-to-man to give the Cardinals a different look, but the Cardinals took advantage and the lead is now 54-48 Louisville now has complete command of the game. They look confident, they feel confident, they have the momentum, and all they need now is the lead.

5:07 You know the McDonalds McGriddles commercials? You know the girl who's consoling her fellow employee by comparing women to McGriddles? How come there were no girls who looked like that when I was working at McDonalds as a teenager?

5:10 The lead is now 54-50 West Virginia on a Otis George jumpshot, and John Beilein's team looks completetly lost out there. Oh, and Tyrone Sally, WVU's leading scorer, just went to the bench with his fourth foul.

5:14 Now, West Virginia is on a 6-1 Run to extend the lead to 60-51. All that work the Cardinals put into getting back into the game will go to waste if they don't come out of the timeout and play good defense.

5:18 Ellis Myles has the classic "Who, Me?" expression as he gets called for an obvious goaltend.

5:21 Out of a West Virginia timeout Kevin Pittsnogle just got a very friendly bounce on his 3-point shot

5:22 TV Timeout. 68-58 Mountaineers. They just played Mike Krzyzewski's American Express commercial, one day after Duke was eliminated. I gleefully shouted things at the TV that I can't print here.

5:25 Taquan Dean, bad ankle and all, just hit a 3 out of the time out. Amazingly he has 20 points on that bum ankle.

5:27 Louisville goes on a mini-run and West Virginia, up 71-65, has to call timeout to stop the bleeding.

5:29 Fransisco Garcia fouls out with 4:02 to play. Wow, that was a huge loss for Louisville. He's one of their big offensive contributors. I feel for him, he fouls out and has to sit out the last 4 minutes of what might be his last collegiate game.

5:31 TV Timeout with 3:47 to go and the Mountaineers lead 72-67.

5:37 J.D. Collins and Larry O'Bannon just dove for a loose ball and J.D. Collins comes up a little groggy. Timeout 74-71 West Virginia

5:39 Otis George has pulled the 'ville within 1, and the crowd at The Pit is on it's feet...

5:40 And Kevin Pittsnogle hits a HUGE 3 to extend the lead to 4!

5:41 Timeout Louisville with 54.0 seconds to go. 77-75 Mountaineers

5:43 Larry O'Bannon ties it for Louisville!

5:44 Taquan Dean has a chance to win it, and misses! It's overtime in Albuquerque!

5:47 Tyrone Sally has fouled out. Which means both teams are now down one key offensive contributor. Larry O'Bannon makes both free-throws to give Louisville the lead. Somewhere, my friend "ctkatz" from the Avalanche Message Board is smiling.

5:49 Taquan Dean extends the Louisville lead to 4, then Louisville gives 2 of it back on a stupid perimeter foul.

5:50 And Mike Gansey makes the lay-up to tie it up! Timeout, Tied at 82.

5:55 Taquan Dean, who has been the catalyst for Louisville's comeback, came out of the game doubled over, and none of the announcers are sure what happened. Louisville is still up 1, though.

5:56 Palacios hits a HUGE layup to make it 88-83 Louisville! Losing both their leading scorers has not diminished Louisville at all. West Virginia, on the other hand, is playing like they have no energy left.

And somewhere, Kentucky fans are cursing at their TV screens at Rick Pitino. I know I'm looking ahead a bit, but how cool would it be if Rick Pitino's Cardinals stuck it to the Kentucky Wildcats and their blue-blood fans in the championship game?

6:01 West Virginia is now in a "foul and pray" situation. It's 92-85 Louisville.

6:06 It's over and Louisville is your first entrant into the Final Four. Great comeback by the Cardinals, who were down by 13 at half.

Illinois-Arizona

6:13 CBS now goes to Chicago for Arizona-Illinois. As expected the crowd at the former Rosemont Horizon is a sea of orange. Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas are on the call.

Starting Lineups
Arizona: Hassan Adams, Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, Ivan Radenovic, and Mustafa Shakur
Illinois: Dee Brown, Luther Head, Deron Williams, James Augustine, Roger Powell

6:19 Buoyed by the home crowd, Illinois jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but the pace has slowed somewhat. It's going to be difficult to tell who a slower pace favors because both teams are up-tempo.

6:22 TV Timeout. Arizona has clawed back to tie the game at 8.

6:24 And Arizona takes it's first lead of the game on a layup. They are on a 12-2 run. So much for the home crowd advantage, the Illini fans are quiet for the moment.

6:27 Luther Head makes a 3 to tie it at 14 and the crowd is back in it!

6:29 Rich McBride gives the Illini the lead on another 3-ball. Arizona needs to tighten up it's perimeter defense during this TV timeout because the 3-pointer is keeping Illinois in the game. Also the Illini are getting second chances on the offensive end. I imagine Lute Olson is telling his troops to box out.

6:35 Channing Frye just rejected an Illini shot. No soup for you! Other than that, not much happening except the teams are trading baskets.

6:38 They just showed a stat graphic showing that Salim Stoudamire is 0-1 on shots. Credit Illinois' defense for not giving Stoudamire good looks, but at some point, Salim is going to have to get involved in the offense.

6:41 TV Timeout. 26-24 Illinois.

6:47 It's bad enough that the picture went black, CBS Sportsline's game cast has gone south.

6:49 OK, my folks just invited me to go to the Cheesecake Factory, so I'm going to take them up on their free food. I'll recap after the game.

More Tournament Journal tomorrow.
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