by John Walters


The Traveling Marburys

Watch for yourself. LSU guard Tremont Waters takes three steps, and arguably commits a palming violation, on his game-winning bucket. I’m not mad, bro; just resigned to the fact that basketball has come to this. It’s sort of peculiar that the only times basketball players take three steps on the way to the basket is when they absolutely need to. It’s almost as if the rules don’t count when the will to succeed becomes paramount.

Where have we seen that mind-set before?

Here’s what we don’t understand, and yes we’ve read the rules. Why is that if a post player picks up his pivot foot—in theory a second step—that is a travel, but if a high-flying, potentially posterizing potentate picks up his dribble near the top of the key and takes three steps it’s not? One of those three steps would’ve had to have been his pivot foot, no? And he still gets an extra step?

While we’re at it, the cradling-the-rock-as-I-drive-to-the-hoop move also must be banished. Thanks for listening. I’ll see myself out to work on my golf shots and cribbage game.

Blowout City: In games that featured 20-point leads, and in Auburn-Kansas’ case, 25, and in Purdue-Villanova’s 32, Saturday was plagued by blowouts: Florida State over Murray State, Michigan State over Minnesota, Gonzaga over Baylor, the Tigers over the Jayhawks and the Boilermakers over the JayWrights.

(Yes, yes and yes)

See Ja Later: Florida State, which got knocked out in the Elite Eight last March, played like a Final Four squad in humbling Ja Morant and Murray State. This was the worst defensive outing of the tournament, 90-62. This was the ugliest defensive outing of the tourney, as the Seminoles shot above 50% from the field.

Fletch: On Thursday Wofford’s Fletcher Magee set an NCAA record for most three-pointers made in a career, 506. Two days later the senior set an NCAA tournament record for most threes missed in a game without a make, 12. They say you miss all of the shots you never take, but sometimes you miss all of the shots that you do, too.

That’s Livers AND Onions!!!

The Best Of Carsen: Purdue guard Carsen Edwards springs for a career-high 42 points as the Carbombs obliterate the defending national champs, 87-61. It was 64-32 at one point early in the second half. The top three teams in the Big Ten have advanced to the Sweet 16: Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

Growth Spurts: How do players such as Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, who scored 36 in Gonzaga’s win over Baylor last night, wind up at mid-majors? By growing late in, or even after, the recruiting cycle. Learned via announcers yesterday that Morant was a 5’10” high school senior (he’s now 6’3″) while Clarke took a scholarship offer from San Jose State as a 6’2″ guard out of the lovely desert haven of Ahwatukee. He’s now 6’8″ and for our money, a top 20 NBA draft pick this June.


We believe in equal time so we’ll air Scott Van Pelt’s commentary on the Tom Izzo-Aaron Henry incident here. We disagree completely with SVP’s premise: that this was about how some people (us?) get offended too easily or don’t understand what it takes to hold someone accountable. Hardly. Yell at a player all you want. The moment you make it about physical intimidation you cross a line. Where was this attitude a couple of years ago when that Rutgers men’s coach was seen in practice abusing his players? Or is the difference simply that Izzo is well-liked and has won? The results don’t alter the behavior. The behavior is what it is. We agree with Drew Magary here.

One more thing: SVP seems to be making the argument that you shouldn’t be offended or opine on things that don’t directly concern you. Great. So let’s cancel First Take, High Noon, PTI, Around The Horn, Highly Questionable….

Dynasties Dunked On: With Villanova, Maryland, Florida and Kansas losing Saturday, that’s four schools that have accounted for six national championships this century. To see that many national championships this century fall today, you’d need Duke and North Carolina to lose. Don’t see it happening.

Uncontested Shots

I’m going to enjoy Announcer Phil’s schtick right up to the moment that he informs me that CBS’ coverage of the NCAA tournament does not include corn syrup…That was a really nice touch by CBS, giving Baylor’s Mark Vital a chance via recorded video to tell Charles Barkley what a role model he has been to him, and then it was a really awkward moment as you could tell Barkley did not know the kid’s name. And then it was even funnier, after Barkley promised he’d reach out to Vital, when you heard Kenny Smith mutter off-camera, “Wish he knew you like I know you”…Also enjoyed CBS’ feature  on the Michigan managers and their obsession with taking hotel ballroom taping to the next level…Coby White. Nassir Little. Half of the Wolverines’ squad. Will some announcer please explain what’s up with the pink sneakers? We assume it’s breast cancer awareness, but maybe these players also like the way they look/feel? Someone? Please?…While we’re at it, after we outlaw the ball-cradle-move, let’s outlaw the off-ball defender draping his arm around the back of his man…No one is doing a poor job, but as sideline reporters go, Lisa Byington (Salt Lake City) has distinguished herself as network-level quality. Also, apologize for not knowing her name, but the woman who handled Liberty post-game oncourt interviews on Friday also did a terrific job…We didn’t like the way the LSU game ended (had no dog in fight, just wanna see rules enforced), but wow was that a GROWN ASS MAN game. At one point we thought to ourselves, “What a sequence!” and just then Jim Spanarkel said, “What a sequence!”…By the way, yes, Ian Eagle and Spanarkel do a fantastic job and yet we’re going to get all Jim Nantz and whoever when the Final Four comes. That’s just the way it is…


Sunday Spectacular (best three games): 1) North Carolina-Washington (2:40 p.m., CBS), 2) Oklahoma-Virginia (7:45 p.m., TRU) 3) Buffalo-Texas Tech (6:10 p.m., TNT).

No, UCF-Duke did not make our list and yes, we know it will garner the highest viewership of the day. Duke doesn’t have an interesting game until Michigan State in the Elite Eight next weekend.

One thought on “BALL SCREEN

  1. Like the format over the last few days and appreciate the OT work, JW.

    Here’s to hoping we have a few close games today…

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