Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Afternoon Linkage: The bells of St. Mary's
By Eamonn Brennan
Phew. Yesterday and today feel a little bit like off days after the madness of the first two rounds of the tournament. In that vein, what better time to take a link-bound look around the college hoopsosphere? We'll be in the midst of too much good basketball in just a day's time; now is our only time to reflect.
Today's links start in-house, where Diamond has a tremendous account of the way St. Mary's fans have embraced their team's upstart success in the NCAA tournament: "Once he announced that the bus had turned onto Saint Mary's Road, many ran to the school's main entrance and found that the fire truck and police cars that escorted the Gaels back were blasting their sirens and laying on their horns. The hundreds who lined the road mobbed the players at the door of the charter bus and chanted coach Randy Bennett's name. It took the team nearly an hour to get back to the locker room. Samhan, who had come off the bus holding a camcorder to document the wild scene, was so fired up afterward that he went into the gym and put shots up until 3 a.m." The story also features a fellow Eamonn, though this one spells his name in the more common one-n format. Of course, he's every bit as handsome and erudite as you would expect from someone with such a name.
Joe Posnanski looks back at the Kansas Jayhawks and wonders if he should have known something was amiss: "'Oh, we're good,' [Self] said, which seemed an odd thing to say. Good? Well, sure they were good. Everyone knew they were good. They were ranked No. 1 in the country. And yet, he said it more than once and earnestly -- 'Oh, we're a good basketball team' -- and I remember even then thinking about the line in Casablanca: 'You know how you sound, Monsieur Self? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.'"
USA Today's Michael Heistand discusses the ramifications of expansion, saying that an expanded first round tourney won't be the dealmaker that fans and folks like me seem to dwell on: "While fans fixate on the tournament field expanding, that's a small potato in the stew. First-round NCAA action isn't a big TV draw. More games with teams that couldn't make today's tournament would sweeten a deal — not be key. New early-round games might not be worth much more than what NBC paid for the 1979 tournament, whose Bird-Magic final was the highest-rated college basketball game ever. Just $5.2 million."
On the other side of that coin are the fans at Maryland blog Testudo Times, which have since recovered from the devastating loss and written a fitting tribute to their departing seniors, most notable among them Grievis Vasquez: "They played the game the right way. They are more like the National Championship team than any other team Maryland has had since or before, at least in terms of work ethic. They played like Gary wanted them to, and that's not always easy. Not since Juan Dixon has Maryland had a player as likable as Greivis Vasquez. Before then, maybe not since Len Bias. Walt Williams might be more important for what he did for the program, but biding [sic] Greivis good-bye has been an awfully hard process. His passion and mentality are all that is great about college basketball. Having fun and entertaining the fans, defending his honor and representing his team, but never at the cost of winning." As with any description of Vasquez as "likable," it's a relative term; much of the ACC probably disagrees. But there's no question Greivis was one of a kind. College basketball will miss him.