What we’re reading while we stock up on "Cosmos" episode recordings for the offseason. Submit links via Twitter.
"I am watching what looks like a high-functioning practice, in that the Shockers' first-team defense is impeccable with its ballscreen coverages, and its offense is lighting up the second unit like it's done to so many Missouri Valley teams for the past two months. But a single possession where they get casual with the ball results in Marshall calling the action to a halt. 'I'm telling you guys, in some game soon, it's gonna happen," he says, in the kind of pleadingly aggressive manner that many of his statements get delivered. 'We're gonna play a team that's as active as we are, as handsy as we are. And what are we gonna do? I saw Louisville play last night and had a flashback to the national semifinal, and what they did to us. [The Cardinals forced seven turnovers in the final seven minutes en route to a double-digit comeback.] We've gotta protect the ball. Because someone is going to take it out of our hands.' You do not get to 31-0 by reminiscing about your wins. You get there by fostering a sense of foreboding. By obsessing over minor flaws and fixing them. By telling players -- and I will hear this so many times during film sessions and scouting reports -- that they CAN'T RELAX. That if they do, this run at history might get snatched out of their hands."
"But that doesn’t mean the Jayhawks are a shoo-in to win it. Far from it, even if they had a healthy Embiid. A potential quarterfinal game against Oklahoma State figures to be a very competitive game, even with the proximity bonus I’m assuming Kansas gets at the Sprint Center. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a third-to-last seed better than Oklahoma State in recent times. In other low-seed excitement, Baylor is the fourth choice despite being seeded seventh. The Bears get the virtual bye in the opening round and a quarterfinal game against Oklahoma will be a coin flip. The Big 12, like the Pac-12, does not have incredibly low odds for the seven-seed playing the eight-seed for the title."
Speaking of Kansas, Bill Self should have been the Big 12 coach of the year. Not that the coach of the year award matters. But still.
Green Bay's loss in this weekend's Horizon League tournament has become the latest data point in the mid-major-conferences-do-their-auto-bids-wrong argument, and rightfully so. But that doesn't mean anything for the Phoenix coach Brian Wardle, who is stuck spending a week hoping -- and doing a little gentle politicking -- that his team's season won't end in the NIT.
T.J. Warren earned the ACC's player of the year award Tuesday, and it has become increasingly difficult to argue with his primacy: He finished the season with back-to-back 41- and 42-point scoring efforts, he led the league in scoring with 24.8 points per game, finished eighth in rebounding with 7.1 boards per, shot 53 percent from the field and finished with a 115.2 offensive rating on 33.2 percent usage and 36.9 percent (!) shot rate. How NC State got that kind of play from one guy and isn't a going to the NCAA tournament is a mystery for the ages. (Actually, never mind: NC State was a terrible defensive team. Mystery solved!) Here's the tricky thing: If Warren was the ACC POY, does that mean he's a better national POY candidate than Jabari Parker? No, he's not; Parker had a great season and his team is much, much better than NC State. But then how … actually, forget it. Player of the year voting hurts my head.