Monthly Archives: March 2009

Pitt 76 Villanova 78

image from postgazette.com

image from postgazette.com

Game Recap

Well, I’ll come clean.  I haven’t posted in so long because I wasn’t ready to talk about this one yet.  It hurts.  A lot.  Usually you say, ‘we’ll get ’em next year’.  But next year is looking like the first major rebuilding era in Oakland in a long time.  So that goes out the window.  It also hurts because with a big time shot like that: you know you’re going to see it replayed over and over.  I better come to terms with this loss because it’s going to be played again a few times every March and definitely every time we play Villanova.

I was looking back at the game and trying to pick out what we could have done better.  Yes, some players could been more visible on the stat sheet, but overall we did well.  We didn’t get our stars into foul trouble.  We had a good game plan for ‘Nova (minus some zone in the first half that still baffles me.  But at least we switched back to our base).  We didn’t shoot the lights out from the field or the free throw line, but we shot about our average.  We did very well against Villanova’s pressure defense.  We had some defensive lapses, but for the most part it was solid.  Villanova is a dangerous team offensively and could have done a lot more.  Overall, we played a decent game.  Not outstanding, but good (and before you even say it, it is unfair to ask a team to play above their standards at will or consistently.  Then the standards wouldn’t be where they are.  Basketball is a game of skill and strategy, but there is a little bit of luck thrown in there to make things interesting.  That extra luck is what makes an outstanding performance).  We played well enough to win, but we ran into the hottest team of the tournament who played outstanding.  There is nothing to be done about that.  They beat us the first time on strategy, and they beat us again on luck.  Villanova averages 75% from the free throw line over the season.  They shot 96% on Saturday.  There is nothing you can do about that.  An athletic team like Villanova will get to the line on occasion.  They average a little over 24 free throws a game, and they shot 23 of them against us.  We didn’t foul too much.  They shot about their average from the field (because of how hot they were coming into the game, I actually give that as evidence of good defense) and that was good enough.  I think the crushing thing about this game was how we lost and I’m not talking buzzer beater.  I went into this game predicting we were going to lose because of a match-up problem.  We came out with a good strategy to eliminate that problem, and we still came up short.  That’s what hurts for me.  Oh, well.  I guess there’s always next year…..sort of.

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Pens 4 Rangers 3

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Not the Pens best effort, but that could have had a lot to do with the level of competition as well.  You look at the stats, and one thing jumps out at you: the penalty minutes.  The Rangers racked up 41 of them!  (The Pens had 20 of their own, which is nothing to sneeze at).  The most amazing part?  The Pens didn’t get any of their 4 goals off the power play.  That’s right.  The Rangers spent 2/3 of the game in the box, and the Pens couldn’t score during any of it.  That’s a sign of a major problem.   We’re the only team in the NHL who treats a power play like a punishment.  But, on the bright side, Sid’s game winner was classic.  Split the defense, slip it through the five hole.  Doesn’t get much prettier than that.  Devils are in town tomorrow.  Man, when do we get a meaningless game to breathe during?

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Elite Eight Picks

image from charlotteobserver.com

image from charlotteobserver.com

Well, it’s time again for me to make a fool out of myself.  Here’s my thoughts on the elite eight match-ups.

UConn/Missouri – I think, like all the elite eight match-ups, this will be a pace game.  If UConn can slow things down at all, they’ll win.  If Missouri can speed things up, they have a chance.  UConn’s played against quick teams before and had success (look at Louisville), so I give them the edge.

Pitt/Villanova – Another pace game.  I think Pitt will be more mindfull of fouls then they were the last time they played Villanova, but I still think ‘Nova can expose them with their quickness.  As much as I hope I’m wrong, I’m going with the Wildcats.

Louisville/Michigan St. – This one should be fairly straightforward.  Michigan St. turns the ball over too much, and Louisville is built to expose those type of teams.  Cards run away with this one.

North Carolina/Oklahoma – Both teams are extremely well balanced.  They both have an All-American center.  They both have depth in the backcourt.  They both have defensive lapses on occasion.  They’re pretty much identical except for Carolina’s depth at the 3, 4 and 5 positions.  That wins it for them.

There you have it.  Good luck and please don’t wager too much on my lack of basketball knowledge.

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Weekly Beer Recommendation

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

I’ve already done an Anchor Brewing Co. beer (their Porter), but as the brewery that a lot of people credit with starting the microbrewery trend, it deserves a second go-around.  Their Liberty Ale offering is kind of light for a pale ale, which is nice.  It’s not dominated as much by hops as other pale ales.  There’s a lot going on in the flavor of this one.  I picked out a strong citrus taste and maybe a little peach, but that’s as far as I got.  I wasn’t very impressed with the head, but that’s picking nits.  Overall, a quality beer that is extremely easy to drink.

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Pitt 60 Xavier 55

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

One more time: survive and advance.  I think the refereeing in this game was a little awkward, but consistent.  They never called fouls on post players and wouldn’t let you touch a guard driving to the hoop.  I think they were trying to reward the athleticism as a way to limit the physical play from two teams that would be happy to have a wrestling match.  Xavier surprised me on the boards.  I thought some of their rebounding numbers were kind of inflated in the guard heavy Atlantic 10.  But they did an excellent job of getting themselves in good position.  I like how DeJuan and the other post players deferred a lot to our guards after they felt how the game would be called.  That’s what won us the game, and I’m not sure we could have done it a few months ago.  I think the significance of making it to the Elite 8 will be hammered to death, so I won’t beat a dead horse.  But it IS a relief to have that monkey off our backs.

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Sweet Sixteen Predictions

image from stltoday.com

image from stltoday.com

So after a pretty crap-tastic first round and a little bit of redemption in the second round, I’m back with my thoughts on the sweet sixteen. So here goes:

Louisville/Arizona – Arizona lucked out with their second round match-up. They have some NBA level talent, but not enough ball-handlers to beat the Cards.

Kansas/Michigan St. – there two are almost mirror images of each other. I think the separating factor in this one is Michigan St.’s experience.

UConn/Purdue – Purdue has a killer defense, and UConn is dealing with some distractions right now. But there’s no way Purdue can match up with UConn’s frontcourt. I think UConn gets half their points off rebounds, but points are points.

Missouri/Memphis – This should be an up and down game in the 90’s. I think Memphis wins with a better defense and better finishers around the hoop.

Pitt/Xavier – Xavier can play physical and rebound. But Pitt is the best in the country at that style. If Xavier tries to beat Pitt at their own game, they’ll definitely loose. If they use their quickness, they have a shot, but not a great one since that’s not their comfort zone.

Villanova/Duke – Both teams love to run the floor. ‘Nova is a little better at rebounding, but Duke has a better defense. Defense wins in this one, but it’ll be in the 80’s where it’s anybody’s game.

North Carolina/Gonzaga – Lots of great match-ups up and down the lineups. Gonzaga should give UNC a real test, but UNC has the depth to wear down the Bulldogs at the end of the game.

Syracuse/Oklahoma – Syracue’s zone is built around stopping guys like Blake Griffin, but Pitt had some success with interior passing against the Orange, and OU can do the same. Even if they can’t, the Sooners have some shooters like Willie Warren that can be zone busters.

There you have it. Until the elite eight, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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Pens 2 Flames 0

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Quick!  Everyone back on the bandwagon!  That was one of the fastest paced games I’ve seen, and we really seemed to thrive on it.  Fleury stood on his head.  We won all the battles in the corners (makes you wonder where all that scrappy play was back in January).  We made some solid defensive plays.  There’s nothing else you can say.  We played a really tough team, played outstanding hockey, and deserved the 2 points.  I like the response to the loss this weekend.  Serious playoff implications with the Rangers in town on Saturday.   If we play this well the rest of the season, we won’t ever loose.

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