MILWAUKEE – So this is how they celebrate the first day of spring round here? Snow?!
Well, what the heck, might as well have it. Covering an NCAA basketball tournament is all about hotel, arena, hotel, arena. It could be 80 degrees outside and it wouldn’t matter. So no complaints here. It’s Milwaukee, it’s supposed to snow.
Here inside the warmth of the Bradley Center, it’s been a fun day today going back and forth between Tech’s Iman Shumpert and Ohio State’s Evan Turner talking about their history as eighth grade teammates and what they look for in the match-up Sunday. (And yes, this is really just downright shameless promotion for you to click on a story I just finished on the subject of those two.)
But what my story didn’t say is that Turner knows so much about Georgia Tech, from keeping up with his old friend Shumpert, that he could give Ohio State coach Thad Matta a scouting report right after the Buckeyes’ win over UC Santa Barbara Friday night.
For all the matchups Shumpert has drawn lately – Greivis Vasquez, Jon Scheyer, James Anderson, this one is going to be the most personal, probably the most interesting and definitely the biggest, if Tech can figure a way to top No. 2 seed OSU.
And here’s what makes Turner so dangerous, besides everything (as my best friend says): he led the Big Ten in rebounding (9.2), as a point guard. He had 10 boards last night for the Buckeyes. And when Turner gets a rebound, it means the break starts now. So Tech has got to be ready to go from offense to defense in a flash.
Meanwhile, some tidbits for you.
Mfon Udofia did not play on Friday night against Oklahoma State, in large part because of a sinus infection. It was the first game he’s missed all season.
He did not participate in the shoot-around on Friday and had to get IV fluids on Friday afternoon, Coach Paul Hewitt said.
“I’m sure if pressed we probably could have played him,” Hewitt said. “But he didn’t go through shoot-around, IV, I’m thinking ‘You know what? I like the way the rhythm of this game is going. Why risk it right now?’”
Hewitt said Udofia would be available on Sunday.
Lack-o-depth for OSU
Georgia Tech should have a big advantage on the Buckeyes in the depth department, at least if you look at the numbers.
In Tech’s five postseason games thus far, including four games in the ACC tournament, the Yellow Jackets have averaged 74 minutes per game from their bench. Ohio State? Only 29.5.
Over their last 10 games (skipping Kentucky State), the Yellow Jackets have averaged 72.3 minutes from their bench, while Ohio State has averaged only 21.9 minutes from its bench.
Buckeye big man Kyle Madsen, who is 6-9, 250, gets the most minutes off the bench for OSU, spelling 6-8 forward Dallas Lauderdale. But he’s about the only really consistent contributor off the bench.
Tech went eight deep on Friday night against Oklahoma State, and usually goes nine when Udofia is feeling good.
Ohio State went seven deep Friday against UC Santa Barbara, but the two guys off the bench – Madsen and P.J. Hill – combined for only 14 minutes.
Right there, you should say advantage Tech. I know the NCAA tournament has long timeouts, and guys can catch their breath. But you’d think, it could only help Tech.
Here’s Hewitt’s take on whether depth is an advantage for Tech: “I hope so, but I also know that because of how long the time outs are and how long halftime is that probably lessens the impact of that.”
OK one little tale for ya
With a nod to fellow scribe Simit Shah of “The Buzz,” magazine, I have to admit to you guys that three of us accidentally high-jacked a shuttle last night, one we thought was a media shuttle. It was chilly, and raining, and late, so rather than walk a few blocks back to the media hotel, we jumped aboard this shuttle that was parked near the sign that said “media shuttle.”
Imagine our surprise when our driver pulled up at a restaurant in downtown Milwaukee and not the media hotel. It seems he thought we were regular fans ready to patronize his restaurant and we thought he was the media shuttle.
Well, lucky for us, he was a pleasant guy, and agreed to drive us on to our hotel. And as things turn out, his father is the guy who’s been driving the Yellow Jackets around this weekend.
Good omen, perhaps. I guess the driver from the 2004 tournament was not available, for luck’s sake, but if you have to go elsewhere, might as well have a nice guy’s father.
OK, time to go find a bus and jump on it. Chat with y’all later.