College Basketball Nation: Brad Beal
March, 18, 2012
By Jason King | ESPN.com
OMAHA, Neb. - Pleased as he was with the victory, Florida center Patric Young responded to Sunday’s 84-50 shellacking of No. 15 Norfolk State with a sigh and a shoulder shrug.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Young said.
That’s not entirely true. Sunday’s victory propelled the seventh-seeded Gators into the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year, which is more than 52 other NCAA tournament teams can say after the opening weekend of postseason play.
But it was easy to see how it may not have felt like all that big of a deal to Young and his teammates after annihilating a Norfolk State squad that was so bad it was embarrassing.
Where was the Spartans team that shocked the world by upsetting Missouri on Friday? What happened to all those long, lanky 3-point shooters who couldn’t miss? And what about Kyle O'Quinn, the vivacious 6-foot-10, 240-pound center who had 26 points and 14 rebounds 48 hours earlier against the Tigers.?
O’Quinn had just four points and three rebounds Sunday.
“He didn’t come out with the passion and energy I thought he was going to have,” Young said. “That affected him and it affected his entire team.
“We hadn’t anticipated anything like that.”
Granted, Norfolk State probably didn’t realize just how good of an opponent it would be facing in the Gators, who have won their two NCAA tournament games by an average of 30 points. Florida defeated Virginia 71-45 in the Round of 64 on Friday.
Florida will take on Marquette on Thursday in Phoenix. The Golden Eagles are the No. 3 seed in the West Region.
Peter G. Aiken/US PresswireErik Murphy and the Florida defense held Norfolk State to 27 percent shooting from the field.
“I haven’t seen Marquette play a lot,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said, “but I’ve heard unbelievable things about them. Certainly, their seed is a reflection of who they are.
“Certainly, I will have a chance to watch them a lot starting tonight. I know they’re a good team. I know they play hard.”
So, too, do the Gators.
Sparked by their trademark, full-court defensive pressure, Florida rendered Norfolk State helpless. The same team that shot 54 percent from the floor against Missouri connected on just 27 percent of its field goal attempts Sunday.
The Spartans were just 4-of-24 (16 percent) from 3-point range and were outrebounded 48-31.
“They have a different type of athlete,” Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said of Florida. “Having (Erving) Walker and those guys get up and pressure you for 94 feet is different than some of the other teams we’ve played.
“Maybe it was fatigue, but we don’t want to make excuses about it. They did a great job. Hats off to them.”
Florida trailed 6-4 early but then went on a 25-0 tear that gave the Gators a 29-6 lead. Brad Beal scored seven points during the march while Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy added six apiece. It was a never a game after that, as Florida led by 28 points at intermission. It extended its lead to as many as 38 points in the second half.
Boynton led five Gators in double figures with 20 points. Beal added 14 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. Marcos Tamares scored 12 points for Norfolk State, which received a standing ovation and loud cheers from the thousands of Kansas fans who were waiting for their team to play Purdue in the nightcap at the CenturyLink Center.
Jayhawk supporters were thrilled that the Spartans defeated former Big 12 rival Missouri two days earlier. As bad as it played Sunday, no one can ever take that away from the Spartans, who are one of just six No. 15 seeds in history to defeat a No. 2 seed.
Norfolk State was playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
“If you look at where we came from, this is a big step,” O’Quinn said. “So for everybody to witness that step that we took as a university ... you’ve got to be proud. You have to be.
“We’re not satisfied with losing, but we knew coming in that you either win a national championship or you go home. That’s the nature of the game.”
December, 29, 2011
By Dana O'Neil | ESPN.com
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Before his team faced No. 10 Florida, Rutgers coach Mike Rice sat the Scarlet Knights down for a home movie, hoping that celluloid evidence of what a team could accomplish with a little faith might somehow spawn some belief in their skeptical minds.
The video was less than 12 months old, made on Feb. 9 of this year, when Rutgers upset then-No. 10 Villanova.
It might as well have been the Zapruder film.
Films of victories over top-10 programs are rare, grainy artifacts in the Rutgers archive room. There were, in fact, just seven lonely -- and mostly dusty -- videos in the library.
Now there are eight.
The Scarlet Knights, a team parked in the outliers’ version of relevant, upset the Gators on Thursday in double overtime, 85-83.
That the Knights, who previously this season hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record or an RPI better than 224, were able to pull off the stunner was only slightly more stunning than how they did it.
Rutgers rode the backs of a trio of backcourt freshmen who managed to play with more skill and poise than Florida’s dynamic duo of Kenny Boynton (a junior) and Erving Walker (a senior). Eli Carter, who exploded for a career-high 31 points, Myles Mack (14) and Jerome Seagears (13) did more than just outplay Boynton and Walker for the game; they skewered them in the extra periods. The freshman trio scored 17 of the Scarlet Knights’ 19 overtime points to just five from Florida’s pair.
“Our freshmen’s faces lit up,’’ Rice said of watching the Villanova video. “I just said, ‘This is what happens when you believe. This is what happens when you don’t think impossible is impossible. This is what happens when young men are determined to follow the formula and play for one another.' It’s a process.’’
That’s the same term Billy Donovan used in discussing his team’s loss, a process.
His “team didn’t play the right way,’’ the coach said, citing not just the Gators’ 18 turnovers but foolish decisions in various offensive sets and an inability hold on to what looked like a reliable 9-point first-half lead.
But neither coach was willing to make wholesale trades on his team’s fortunes based on this one game in December.
Nor, history says, should they.
A season ago, the Gators lost to Jacksonville at home. And went to the Elite Eight.
A season ago, Rutgers beat Villanova. And promptly lost its next four and six of its final eight.
The result, both coaches know well, doesn’t matter nearly so much as what you do with it.
“What we need to do is see how self-reflective we’re willing to be,’’ Donovan said. “What do we need to do differently as coaches and as players? How you handle situations like this is a big part of any young player’s development. It’s a matter of what comes out of this. That’s why I say it’s bigger than this game.’’
What comes next is truly the question.
This could be a huge first step for Rutgers, a program that has been locked in an abysmal purgatory for years.
In his second season at RU, Rice now has two wins against top-10 teams. Only the legendary Tom Young has more (four) in school history.
That tells you all you need to know about Rutgers’ run of irrelevance. That and the 20-year chasm between NCAA tournament berths.
Rice, most would agree, has the Knights headed in the right direction. It’s just taken them a little time this season to find the map. Rutgers beat up on an unappetizing menu of walkovers -- an RPI doesn’t reflect everything, but when your team RPI is 256 and you have seven wins, it tells you plenty -- and lost to anyone with a pulse. That included Miami, Illinois State, Richmond, LSU and Princeton.
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireRutgers freshman Eli Carter pulls up for the jumper that sent the game into double overtime.
Rice knew things could get better because he had talent. A year ago he was getting by on smoke and mirrors, fully aware he didn’t have the sort of transcendent player you need to survive in the Big East. He has that guy now in the form of Carter, but he needed Carter to recognize it, too.
Finally -- or suddenly -- this week, he got a glimmer of hope, sensing in practice that his team was finally buying into the lessons he was preaching, maybe even ready to take a big step.
And then there were the steps, in living color, on the court, against, of all teams, Florida.
Carter hit a dead-eye, fearless 3 to force the second overtime and swished a driving leaner to score the go-ahead bucket in that frame. Mack then sealed the deal with his own 3 with under a minute to play.
Those were just three of a highlight package of clutch shots those two and Seagears hit during the game.
“The guys really got after it this week in practice,’’ said Carter, who logged 46 of the 50 minutes. “Not just the starting five, but everyone, down to the walk-ons. We knew we were better than we were playing. We never put our heads down.’’
Now the Knights need to make sure their heads don’t get in the clouds.
Florida, meantime, has nothing to be ashamed of. The Gators have lost three games this season -- at Syracuse and at Ohio State, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation -- and on the road here.
But how UF processes this one is what people will be looking at. Brad Beal finally looked like a freshman, with seven turnovers, and Patric Young disappeared until the overtime periods. Neither can afford too many repeat performances.
More crucially, Walker and Boynton need to be more dynamic and less enigmatic. They can be a duo you love for their fearlessness and detest for their carelessness, sometimes in the span of two possessions.
If Florida is to be as good as advertised, the Gators need to find a rhythm with one another and within the game.
“We didn’t maximize each other,’’ Donovan said. “There were too many guys standing around and watching, but I think this is something we have to go through, as much as you may not like it, to reach our full potential.’’