In the first Final Four game, San Diego State followed the same basic script they did against Alabama and Creighton: take your blows early, then choke your opponent down the stretch and win late.
Worked like a charm against Florida Atlantic.
The Owls were up by 14 in the first half and still had a 10 point lead in the second.
But the Aztecs eventually got hold of the Owls and would not let go and that gave Lamont Butler a chance for greatness, and he stepped up, hitting the winning shot as time expired.
The second game followed the script too, only UConn’s, not Miami’s.
UConn dominated the inside and for much of the game basically punked Miami in the lane. We didn’t get a final tally, but we think the ‘Canes missed about 14 shots around the basket and the defense overall was just terrific by the Huskies, as they held Miami to 32.3 percent. Nijel Pack was 3-10. Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller each shot just 4-10. Norchad Omier was slightly better at 3-8 but Wooga Poplar was blanked at 0-7.
Only Harland Beverly shot reasonably well at 3-5.
There was a brief moment in the second half when Miami cut the lead to eight, forcing turnovers and finally looking like Miami, but it didn’t last. UConn took control and pulled away again, winning 72-59.
We were kind of torn here, on the one hand wanting the ACC to prevail and on the other pulling hard for Danny Hurley.
He’s lived his entire life in the shadow of his father Bob, possibly the greatest high school coach ever, and his brother Bobby, one of the greatest point guards in NCAA history.
We wanted the ‘Canes, but we also wanted to see Danny go somewhere where Bobby hasn’t been and where his father can never go and now he has a chance to do that. So we’re pulling hard for UConn Monday night. We’d love if Hurley got that.
We kind of missed this when it happened, but Caleb Mills has decided to enter the portal. He was a decent guard for Florida State, not great but decent. No word yet on where he’ll end up, but lots of dominos will fall before we see it all sorted out.
We’re seeing various coaches master the new situation and the game is changing as a result.
Everyone expected that a part of the new landscape would be an end of the one-and-done era, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon: the NBA and the players union struck a deal that keeps the age limit at 19.
We never understood players being in favor of competition joining the league straight out of high school because, inevitably, it takes jobs from marginal athletes. No one in their right mind would give away a lucrative job to an untested 18-year-old. Self interest and all of that. On a secondary note, this probably guarantees that high school superstar Cameron Boozer will be in college for his freshman year.
One of the funniest things we’ve seen this weekend was Iowa’s Caitlin Clark looking at an open Raven Johnson and waving her off, then ignoring her and leaving her open, free to shoot, obviously feeling that she wasn’t about to.
Turns out LSU is not that impressed and Alexis Morris took it personally, saying this:
“I don’t think they can guard us that way. I don’t think you can just leave me open on the perimeter or leave us open on the perimeter. Me personally, I find it very disrespectful, so I’m going to take that personally going into that game. You’re going to have to guard us. That’s just the competitor in me, and the will to win.”
That’s a good attitude and a healthy way to look at it. That said, there are a couple of problems with it.
First, you’re giving Clark bulletin board material and clearly, she knows how to use it. Second, unless we miss our guess, Iowa will have scouted LSU carefully and will know who they can and can’t leave alone to shoot.
In other words, Clark disrespected Johnson because she knew she could get away with it. They’ll be ready for LSU.
As we said, agreeing with Steve Politi of NJ.Com, it seemed like something big shifted. Sally Jenkins saw it too.