Posts Tagged ‘ Kentucky ’

The (potentially) post-Marshall tournament

If not for one fleeting moment in Sunday’s game against Creighton, we would be reading stories this week on how North Carolina was the only team in the tournament to look as impressive as Kentucky in the opening weekend. Drowned out by the annoying group-think hysteria surrounding the Wildcats is the fact that for a few minutes in the second half against Iowa State Kentucky actually looked vulnerable. Kentucky made an impressive run that prompted the media to conveniently forget that part of the narrative, but nonetheless, Kentucky, like every other top team in the tournament looked, at least for a few moments, like it could possibly lose a game.

Every other top team, that is, except North Carolina. We jumped all over Creighton early and afforded ourselves the luxury of letting them back in the game – only in a relative sense – before burying them down the stretch. At no point did it appear that we could possibly lose the game. We were not vulnerable.

Most in the media have only made passing reference to this truth as they wish farewell to our chances at winning the national title, and for some even our chances at advancing to the Final Four. To their credit, a small minority have recognized that a logical conclusion of our outstanding showing this weekend is that we retain more than enough talent to win the matchups before us and continue to advance without Kendall Marshall. But I haven’t seen anyone write that we looked as good or better than Kentucky on Sunday; to most there is an ever-widening gulf between the Wildcats and the rest.

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Random early March thoughts on college basketball

I stated at the outset that I was leaving the x’s and o’s and comprehensive analysis to the ESPN folks; this blog really is merely a personal journal of sorts recording experiences that are among the most important to me. However, since it is now March, when we are deluged with material to discuss, analyze and pick apart, some of it quite stupid, I will no doubt indulge my outlet here to share a random collection of thoughts on the season and the national landscape at regular season’s end.

The all-conference teams and the Sporting News All-America teams came out this week, and I hesitate to write too much on this since several more All-America teams are soon to follow. But a few glaring thoughts. I was surprised by the ACC media leaving Kendall Marshall off of the first-team (even barely), but only because of how much the conversation had shifted in his direction over the past two weeks. The tide of media opinion tends to sway in a massive exercise of group-think weeks before the votes, and on that measure, many were calling for Marshall to be in the POY conversation. Ultimately, Tyler Zeller turned in too many increasingly impressive performances for that to be an issue, but all the same, voting for Marshall for All-ACC, and even first-team All-America, was trending.

In hindsight, though, his second team appearance should not be surprising. None of the players in ACC history with similarly historic assist totals made the first team except Bobby Hurley, and he only made it his senior season with a 17 points per game average. I think the media got it right – Henson’s double-double average and status as the conference’s premiere defender and Barnes’ status as our leading scorer made them impossible to leave off. What Marshall is accomplishing this year is unprecedented and truly remarkable, but a guy who averages 7 points per game cannot match the production of Henson and Barnes. Marshall’s classy response indicates he understands that’s the way it works.

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