Thursday, March 11, 2010

BET Round 3: Running Diary

It's New York City. It's Madison Square Garden. It's the Big East Tournament. The Madness of March is in full swing, as several teams have already punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament and many others are still looking to join them. I kept a running diary of the events as they unfolded during Villanova's match-up against Marquette. So without further adieu...

2:00 PM: As expected, the noon game is still being played. Why do they always list the second game at 2:00 PM when they know there's no chance it will start before 2:30?

2:05 PM: Why is the Big East Player of the Year letting Sardine drive recklessly to the basket with the game on the line? I know Scottie Reynolds would be taking over in this situation.

2:10 PM: Georgetown pulls the upset over Syracuse, and Onaku might be done for the year. Their #1 seed could be in jeopardy. Chris Wright with 27 points and 6 assists: I think someone's angry they didn't get an "Honorable Mention".

2:37 PM: The game finally tips off. Apparently it was delayed because Austin Freeman tried to eat the Reeces logo on the floor of the Garden.

First Half

19:00 - Fisher draws a foul, but misses both free throws then turns it over... not a good start.

- Reggie Redding scores the first points of the game on a long two.

17:00 - Mouphtaou Yarou with a LeBron James signature block from behind on the breakaway dunk! He looks like a young Hakeem, who was actually Akeem. (Olajuwon was also a soccer player from Africa who didn't pick up basketball until the age of 15. I hope Mouph turns out half as good as the Dream.)

- Scottie Reynolds makes his first 3-pointer.

- Stokes comes off the bench and hits a three. He had 20 points against Marquette last year at MSG... he likes playing here.

- Taylor King is in! I don't know why he was out, but I'm glad he's back. (Note: King would leave the game after two minutes and never return. So never mind that unfounded excitement.)

- Marquette makes their second basket at the end of the shot clock. Those are always killers to give up three points after playing 34 seconds of good defense.

- Stokes with the lucky bounce as the three-ball drops in. Nova needs Stokes making threes to have any kind of success in the Big Dance.

- Can somebody get a hand in Darius Johnson-Odom's face? He's made 3 threes already.

- Fisher goes to bench with two fouls and zero points.

- Reynolds gets caught in the paint surrounded by four Golden Eagles with nowhere to go, then pivots around and drops in an old school scoop shot. That was pretty.

4:00 - Buzz Williams may be challenging Patrick Ewing's record for most sweat produced at a basketball game at MSG.

- Scottie Reynolds and David Cubillan get in a tangle-up on the floor. These teams are playing hungry.

- Stokes is three for three for three! Say that three times fast.

- Fisher Price is back on the floor to score his first points of the game on a drive to the basket.

- The game is tied 30-30. For your halftime entertainment: The T-shirt Squad!

Second Half

19:00 - A bad offensive foul called on Fisher, his third personal foul of the game. Come on zebras, this is the BIG EAST, we don't reward flopping.

- Fish stays in and hits a three!

- Jay Wright rewards Corey Stokes by starting him in the second half, and Stokes responds by knocking down his fourth 3-pointer of the game. It's been a while since the Bayonne Bomber has been this hot from downtown.

- Another shot clock buzzer beater by Marquette. So demoralizing.

- Stokes hits another three and has 16 points for the game. Then, on defense, he lands awkwardly and comes away limping. Luckily, he stays in the game... we need him.

- Mouph is getting involved on offense. He hits a layup then draws a foul and makes both free throws. His upside is sky-high.

- Scottie hits a three. It's the second half, so naturally he's heating up.

13:00 - Yarou dives on the floor after a loose ball. It's weird seeing a big guy in a white jersey playing so hard at MSG. I've never seen Eddy Curry do that.

- He's on fire! Stokes is 5-6 for three and has 19 points.

12:00 - J-O is really peeving me off. (I'm not typing out his full name again; it barely fits on the back of his jersey.)

- Pena gets the offensive rebound, then goes up strong for the and-1. Nova is up 52-48.

- An intentional foul is called on Redding for stopping a clear path breakaway. That was a reach-in foul, he did not grab him. Plus, Scottie was right there, so he didn't even have a clear path.

- J-O gives Marquette a 54-52 lead. He has 18 points.

7:00 - Fish gets back to the free throw line for the first time since the beginning of the game, and he makes both. Fisher Price needs to keep toying with these defenders by attacking the basket.

- Scottie is struggling on offense, so he tries to draw a charge on defense by flopping, but there is no call. Then J-O hits another three. Come on Scottie, you're better than that.

- Facing Marquette pressure, Scottie dribbles the ball off his foot out of bounds. Today is not his day. I was hoping he would come out with a vengeance after the Big East POY snub. (Reynolds finished 4-10 for 10 points, with 2 assists and 3 turnovers.)

- J-O with ANOTHER 3-pointer for 24 points. I have a new enemy. Congratulations J-O, you have joined Luke Harangody, Edgar Sosa, Carl Krauser, Kevin Pitsnoggle, and Eric Devendorf in a long line of Big East players I despise.

- Meanwhile, as Marquette takes an eight point lead, it has been nine minutes since Stokes (19 points, 5-6 3PT) has attempted a shot.

- Fisher Price is creating open shots for his teammates as he sets up Pena under the basket. 'Tone hits both free throws to cut the deficit to two at 65-63.

- Fish with the steal and a breakaway. He goes up for a layup with extra hang time, trying to draw contact. We are tied at 65. Fisher often makes layups more difficult than they need to be, but he usually makes them.

- Fisher is taking over! Nova is down by one, 68-67.

2:22 - Finally! Stokes gets a shot off and drains it. (22 points, 8-9 FG, 6-7 3PT) The game is tied at 70.

- Lazar Hayward makes a three to put Marquette up 73-70. We're coming down to the wire here. Scottie needs to step up.

- A foul is called on Nova, Marquette goes up five, and the game is slipping away.

- Pena makes a layup, and Nova is down by three again.

- With the shot clock turned off, Nova is forced to foul Hayward. He makes both free throws to make it 77-72. We'd need to get lucky at this point.

- Fisher Price with the behind the back layup and-1, but he misses the free throw. (Fisher had a great game: 16 points and 6 assists, but he was 5-9 from the free throw line. Those four points could have made a big difference.)

0:18 - Cubillan dribbles out of control trying to avoid the foul and instead loses the ball on his own, but they call a foul on Villanova. Unlucky.

- After draining a lot of time off the clock, Pena makes a layup to make it 78-76, but Nova really needed a three there. The Marquette defenders were hounding Fisher and Stokes on the perimeter, not allowing them to get a shot off.

- Nova is forced to foul Hayward again. He gets a lucky bounce and makes both to give Marquette a four-point lead. It's rare when a team's center is the their free throw "icer" at the end of the game.

-Fisher misses a meaningless three at the buzzer and the game is over. Marquette wins 80-76.

They say it's tough to beat a good team twice in one season and almost impossible to beat them three times. That doesn't seem to effect the UConn women's team, but that saying held true for the men because it happened to Syracuse first, and now to Villanova, as both double-bye teams lost their first games. Nova is still in the big Tourny, and this loss will hurt their seeding, but I'll gladly take the extra time to rest, regroup and prepare for our round one opponent, whoever it may be. Until Selection Sunday...

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