Archive for March, 2010

Iman Shumpert clamps down, and Tech steps boldly forward

Iman Shumpert puts the clamps on Big Game James Anderson. (AP photo)

Tech's Iman Shumpert knocks the ball from Big Game James Anderson. (AP photo)

Milwaukee – These weren’t the Jackets we’d come to know. These were different Jackets, different and better and more grown-up. Locked into the sort of game they would have bungled away — what, two weeks ago? — they held their nerve and made foul shots and kept defending and now they’re in Round 2 of the Big Dance and acting as if they plan to hang around a good while longer.

What has changed? Said D’Andre Bell: “Outside of trusting and believing in ourselves, the only thing that’s much different is the maturing of Derrick Favors.” But there’s more to it than one gifted freshman coming into his own. There’s a team here that’s coming into its own.

Iman Shumpert is sometimes the sort of point guard who keeps both teams in the game. On Friday he made only one basket, that on an alley-oop, and four assists, and still he kept Oklahoma State from playing its game. He defended James Anderson, who’s known as …

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Tech does it with talent, but this time with a purpose, too

Tech's Moe Miller hits the floor and corrals a loose ball. (AP photo)

Tech's Moe Miller hits the floor and corrals a loose ball. All-out effort, folks. (AP photo)

Milwaukee – Talent had something to do with it, but it wasn’t just talent this time. It was talent applied, talent backed with planning and purpose. It was talent plus tenacity, and added together it means Georgia Tech will play Sunday.

The Jackets outfought and outthought Oklahoma State down the stretch, and even if it lacked in artistry, it brimmed with heart. There’s was nothing pretty about this, nothing except the final score and the date in Sunday’s Round of 32.

In the end, it was all D. Iman Shumpert stole the ball from James Anderson, and then Derrick Favors forced another Anderson turnover, and that was it. Tech held its nerve and made its foul shots, and the Institute banked its first NCAA tournament victory since 2005.

The first half was strange. Anderson, the Big 12 player of the year, scored only seven points and sat the final 6 1/2 minutes after incurring his second foul. …

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Live from Milwaukee: Can Tech outdraw the Cowboys?

The opening tip. Georgia Tech won it. That's always good. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The opening tip. Georgia Tech won it. That's always good, isn't it? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Milwaukee, Wis. — James Anderson is known as Big Game James on merit. He had 31 points against Baylor, 30 against Kansas State, 28 against Texas, 27 against Kansas and Texas A&M. All of those opponents were invited to the Big Dance. Tonight Anderson will play against Georgia Tech.

Tech has a bevy of big defenders to run at Big Game James — Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr., D’Andre Bell. The Jackets have had success against big-time guards in the past fortnight, essentially defusing Greivis Vasquez (15 misses in 21 shots) and Jon Scheyer (nine misses in 13 shots)  in the ACC tournament, but they were helpless against Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney (32 points, nine assists) in the regular-season finale. So what I’m saying is: This could go either way. How’s that for analysis?

I see it going Tech’s way, though, for a basic reason: Oklahoma State starts one man taller than 6-foot-6. The Cowboys …

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On Day 2 of the Big Dance, I ruefully reflect on Day 1

Milwaukee — I broke Rule 1 of Bracketology about 16 hours ago: I started bragging.

“Haven’t missed a game,” I told Randy Waters of 11Alive yesterday after Georgia Tech’s open practice.

“You had Murray State?” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “And keep going. I also had St. Mary’s and Old Dominion.”

I was unbeaten through the afternoon games even though the day’s first three games all looked to be going against me. (Old Dominion, BYU and Villanova each won narrowly, the latter two in overtime.) I thought to myself: “You could have the 16-0 day you’ve always dreamed of having.”

Dream on, moron.

The night’s doings: UNLV lost to Northern Iowa, and I’d picked the Rebels because of their coach, who used to be the Atlanta Hawks’ coach; Marquette lost to Washington late, and I’d picked the Eagles because they played in the Big East, and then Ohio wiped out Georgetown, and I’d picked against the Bobcats because I’d forgotten how dangerous Mid-American teams can be. Anyone remember Miami …

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At issue in Milwaukee: Does Tech have another run in it?

Here we see an example of defense not working so well. (AP photo)

Here we see an example of Georgia Tech's defense not working so well. (AP photo)

Milwaukee — There are two ways this can work: Georgia Tech can take its run to the ACC finals and let that stand as a season-saver, or it can fashion an even stronger run and make us remember this team not as the bunch that went 7-9 in ACC regular-season play but as one of the most memorable in Institute annals. Given your druthers, you’d obviously choose the latter. But it doesn’t always work that way.

In 2000 Arkansas won four games in four days to win the SEC tournament (Joe Johnson was among those Hogs); it lost its first NCAA tournament game. In 2006 Syracuse won four games in four days and won the Big East; it lost its first NCAA game. In 2008 the Georgia Bulldogs won four games in four days and won the SEC on Tech’s floor; it lost its first NCAA game.

Tech won three games in Greensboro and nearly a fourth. But sometimes the worst thing you can do when you’re playing well is to stop playing …

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Live from my hotel room: The NCAA tournament commences!

My view of the proceedings. Note the abundance of foot hygiene. (Photo by M. Bradley)

My view of the proceedings. Please note the abundance of foot hygiene. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Milwaukee — OK, here’s the plan. We’re going to tip off our NCAA tournament coverage with a live chat off the afternoon games, same as we did a year. As some of you might recall, last year’s chatting was done from my house.

Some might also recall the action photo of my propped-up feet. (For reasons unclear, y’all found this the height of hilarity.) Far be it from me to flout tradition, so I offer another action shot of MB’s tootsies, only this time the venue has changed. I’m ensconced in my plushly appointed hotel across the street from the arena where Georgia Tech will hold an open practice later today.

Because I need to wander over for that — you never know when the coach might say something nice about the media — we won’t make this an all-day affair. We’ll start around 12:15 p.m. EDT — I’m on CDT, FYI — and we’ll go until the opening games of the day are done.

We can talk about the …

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Upset! The Fiasco is now Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco

It's the same snazzy banner headline, but a less alliterative name.

As you can see from the hasty redesign, it's the same snazzy banner headline but a less alliterative name.

Folks, the NCAA has asked us to rename our little contest. So the Final Four Fiasco will become Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco.

I’m assured nothing else will be affected: The brackets already entered online will remain in our database and will be tabulated, same as if this was still the FFF as opposed to B’sBF.

But you needn’t be. Just enter the contest here, if you haven’t already. (The deadline is Thursday at noon.) And we thank you for your continuing patronage.

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The Big Dance begins, and a billion brackets wait to be broken

It begins again in earnest, the event that brings commerce to a grinding halt. Starting Thursday, the NCAA tournament seizes hold of our lives and doesn’t let go until April 5. It makes bracketologists of us all and household names of schools we couldn’t have located with a GPS. (Coppin State? George Mason? Davidson?)

Even the worst installments of the sprawling event — to be blunt, the past few haven’t been vintage — offer the most riveting viewing in North American sports. It’s March and it’s mad. It’s a rite of spring. It’s the Big Dance, and 64 pep bands are ready to blare. As you’re reaching for the earplugs, here’s a quickie guide to Round 1.

The 5 most likely upsets

  • No. 13 Siena over No. 4 Purdue (Friday, 2:30 p.m.): So many people are picking this one it shouldn’t even be considered an upset.
  • No. 13 Murray State over No. 4 Vanderbilt (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.): The quick Racers from the Ohio Valley Conference are a bad match for the Commodores.
  • No. 12 Utah State over No. 5 …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Tech is ‘talented’ – and also dangerous

Two terrifically talented Techsters make a Dukester tremble. (AP photo)
Two tenacious and terrifically talented Techsters make a Dukester tremble. (AP photo)

If you had a nickel for every time somebody described Georgia Tech as “talented,” you’d be Arthur Blank. The famous Dick Vitale grabbed me by the arm Sunday in Greensboro — Dick sometimes gets grabby — and said, “They have a lot of talent.” And who was I to disagree?

I mention this because Sporting News Today and ESPN.com trotted the “T” word in their NCAA tournament assessments of Tech. Wrote Mike Decourcy of SNT, who rated the Jackets the 12th-best team in the grid: “The Jackets have more individual talent than just about every team in the field. OK, so they don’t always use it.”

Wrote Ryan Fagan, also of SNT, in rating Tech eighth among 10 double-digit seeds that could make the Sweet Sixteen: “The Yellow Jackets have about as much talent as any team in the country, but they have the toughest draw of any No. 10 seed.”

Wrote Andy Katz of ESPN in his look at the Midwest Regional: …

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Georgia Tech to the Final Four? That’s not the fact, Jack

I wish I could say I see the Jackets sticking around longer, but I'd be lying. (AP photo)

I wish I could say I see the Jackets sticking around longer, but I'd be lying. (AP photo)

Just when  I was thinking Georgia Tech could make a nice NCAA tournament run, reality interceded. (Reality is a killjoy.) The committee released its bracket and handed the Jackets the 10th seed in the Midwest. Given the 10th seed in the South or the West, they might well have won two or three — heck, why not four? — games.  As is, I can’t see them winning more than once. The reasons:

• The opposition is fearsome. When Tech reached the 2004 Final Four, it was the No. 3 seed in a regional featuring a good-but-not-great Kentucky and Gonzaga as Nos. 1 and 2. (Each was upset in Round 2.)  This year Kansas is the best No. 1 seed in the grid, Ohio State the strongest No. 2, Georgetown the most robust No. 3. The committee insists it tries to follow an “S” curve in its seedings, meaning the weakest No. 1 will be bracketed with the strongest No. 2, but the composition of the Midwest looks more …

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