Write With Us!
Would you like to write with us? Feel free to drop a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your number one source for expert sports analysis on the web
As the clock hit zero in Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX) there was Kemba Walker pounding his chest, with his teammates celebrating around him as his school, The University of Connecticut Huskies punched their ticket to the National Championship Game.
The Huskies will take on the Butler Bulldogs who have reached the National Championship for the second straight year, one of few teams to ever do so. Butler who knocked off this year’s Cinderella team, VCU. Led by Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack, Butler can play both inside and outside in their half-court system led by head coach Brad Stevens.
While it’s a great story for the Butler Bulldogs, no one should be overlooking the story of UConn and more importantly the story of Kemba Walker. Sure they’re a storied university but not like Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky (who they beat to reach the National Championship).
Led by head coach Jim Calhoun, who has over 850 wins in his coaching career he might have one of his best team’s ever in this year’s UConn team. The growth of his team has been led by Naismith candidate, Kemba Walker.
Most of us know about what Walker brings as a player, this year. but the numbers were there his last two seasons because unlike most highlighted college players, Walker is an upperclassman. The numbers are there, Walker’s point average (23.7), rebound average(5.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.02) have all risen over his past two seasons, but it’s the leadership that matters most.
Any coach whether they have 850 wins or 85 wins, wants a team leader and by all accounts, actions speak louder then words. No actions have been more impressive then Walker’s, the kid from Bronx, NY has not only put up the points but has led by example, it seems as if almost every game, Kemba is not only scoring, but allowing his teammates to take the game over, whether it be freshmen Jeremy Lamb hitting from deep or big man sophomore, Alex Oriakhi grabbing rebounds and defending the paint.
All college basketball fans loved “The Jimmer”, all fans and scouts jumped through their chairs for Derrick Williams of Arizona, and everyone took notice of the skills of Duke’s Kyrie Irving. Yes, all these players were deserving of the attention they received but with Walker, he has a great game but it seems to go under the radar.
This is not saying Walker is underrated because everyone is now paying attention. Keyword is, now. Now that UConn is left out of all the powerhouse colleges, now everyone goes back and looks at what he’s done. Here is exactly what he’s done this year:
Walker has had ten games in which he has scored 30 points or more, he has had one triple-double this season but has nearly had a triple-double in many games. Walker went only two games without having a steal, contributing to his defense, and the most turnovers he’s committed in one game was five which came against Louisville, a game UConn eventually won.
The point trying to be made is that Kemba Walker is the NCAA’s flavor of the year, but that was after Jimmer, after Derrick Williams, after VCU and still doubts are arising. The NBA doubts that is, there is no debate that Walker has great NBA draft stock at this current moment, but whispers of Ben Gordon have come up with his name.
It can’t be true, with all due respect to Ben Gordon, he is nowhere near the talent level of Kemba Walker. Walker takes a game over, he leads by example, and his emotions drive him. He grew up with basketball in his veins as almost all college players have, but as told to ESPN in an interview after the Big East tournament Walker admitted that hitting his game-winning shot against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden was a “dream come true”.
The spotlight is on, the stage is set, we’ve been blessed to watch plenty of great college talent, and one remains above the rest and will showcase not only himself but his entire team come Monday night against the Butler Bulldogs with the Championship on the line.
Fun fact: UConn is 13-0 in neutral-site games this year (all tournament games) and Kemba Walker has been MVP of both tournaments that UConn has won (Maui Invitational and the Big East Tournament)
Here’s Walker in “Beast Mode”
The Southwest Region, doesn’t provide fans with many intriguing match-ups as almost everyone, including the President himself, have Kansas coming out of this region. Actually President Obama has the Jayhawks taking it all.
So, is he right?
While I don’t have the Jayhawks winning it all in any of my brackets, they will more then likely come out on top of this region. Led by Marcus Morris, who is one-half of the Morris twins along with Markieff bring the Jayhawks into the Big Dance, with storming effort. Marcus averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds this game, and should be force in every game for the Jayhawks.
Player To Watch: #2 Preston Knowles, Guard, Louisville Cardinals
Averaging 15 points a game, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and nearly 2 steals a game, Knowles has almost every aspect of the game down. Knowles finds himself with veteran coach Rick Pitino and has veteran-ship himself, being a senior for the Louisville Cardinals. No one wants to lose early during the NCAA tourney, and certainly want to make a run during the senior season. All this put together makes Preston Knowles, one of your key player’s to watch in this year’s Big Dance.
Darkhorse “Team To Watch”: Illinois
Potential, if nothing more, that is what can make Illinois one of the surprise teams in this year’s tournament. It’s been a repetitive story for the Illini who find themselves in close games with good teams, but always seem to fall at the end. With that being said however, Illinois has knocked off North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan during key-times of their season. A lot of great young talent surrounds Bruce Weber, if they can get it together, Illinois might be the team to surprise many.
Letdown “Team To Fall”: Notre Dame
Yes, Notre Dame deserved their #2 seed. Yes, Notre Dame has five seniors starting and they all will play a key-role for their team. Yes Ben Hansbrough was the Big East Player Of The Year, over UConn’s Kemba Walker. Like his brother Tyler, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, Hansbrough is a great college player, who paces himself perfectly so that he can come up big in clutch situations late in games. Notre Dame has the tools to make it, but they haven’t been to a Final Four since the ’70s. Notre Dame’s run can be ended at the Sweet Sixteen against a surprising Georgetown, or they could continue this great season. They are a great team this year, but have the potential to fall.
With all the preview fun stuff done, here are the picks, round by round, for each game in the Southwest Region of the 2011 NCAA March Madness Tournament.
With the play-in games all finished we start with Round 2
Writers note: Winners labeled in bold
#1 Kansas over #16 Boston University
#9 Illinois over #8 UNLV
*Upset Notice* Although I have #5 Vanderbilt over #12 Richmond, don’t be surprised if Richmond pulls off the upset.
#4 Louisville over #13 Morehead State
#6 Georgetown over #11 VCU
**Upset Notice** I know it sounds crazy but it could happen I have #3 Purdue over #14 St Peter’s, but St. Peter’s may just pull this off.
#10 Florida State over #7 Texas A&M
#2 Notre Dame over #15 Akron
Round Three Winners:
#1 Kansas over #9 Illinois
#4 Louisville over #5 Vanderbilt
#6 Georgetown over #3 Purdue
#2 Notre Dame over #1o Florida State
Sweet Sixteen Winners:
#1 Kansas over #4 Louisville
#6 Georgetown over #2 Notre Dame
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, and overlooked Georgetown making it to the Elite Eight, here is my winner, advancing to the Final Four:
#1 Kansas over #6 Georgetown
The favorite pick in this region, comes out on top. The Morris brothers will rise and veteran coach Bill Self will once again lead his team to the Final Four, while I don’t have them winning it all, there is once again, no doubting the Jayhawks.
This is part one of a series analyzing each position on the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
The most storied and critiqued position in all of football is the quarterback. Chances are, if you are playing that position for the Dallas Cowboys everything you do, whether positive or negative, will be thrown under the microscope and magnified. There is a lot of pressure for anyone playing this position and a player can only improve with experience. The Cowboys saw not only their back-up, but their third-string quarterback take snaps this year and we saw some positives from both.
We will start things off with the starter, Tony Romo. Before being injured in week 7, Romo surely wasn’t on his way to one of his better seasons. Throwing 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions is anything but impressive. Many people blame it on play-calling as then Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett had Romo attempting more than 40 passes three times out of those first six games. That means he was on pace to throw over 568 passes, a career high.
Going into the 2010 season the Cowboys organization had high hopes for Romo who had a career low in interceptions the year before. Nothing should change going into next season. Romo turns 31 in April, which means his window to become an elite quarterback and win a Super Bowl is may slowly be closing. Knowing the history of Jerry Jones, if you aren’t winning your job isn’t safe. This upcoming season will almost be a make or break year for Romo. He has had opportunities and Romo can only hope that with all the extra time off that he improves his mentality of the game and continues to cut down on mistakes and turnovers. Little does he know, there may be someone looking over his shoulder.
Jon Kitna had a great season as far as back-ups go, but he isn’t the one looking over Romo’s shoulder (we will get to that later). He did everything a back-up is supposed to and more at times. But there were also times where Kitna showed why he isn’t a starter. Through ten games he had 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He wasn’t explosive, but it was obvious he became comfortable in the offense as the season drew on and proved he is a reliable back-up. Kitna had four 300-plus yard passing games and was 4-5 as a starter. With his performance he definitely proved his worth in the league for a couple more years and is someone the Cowboys now know they can rely on if Romo happened to go down. The thing I really loved about Kitna was his fire during games. This guy hates to lose and appeared to take a leadership role on the team. This is something that Romo needs to look at. The Cowboys didn’t go 4-5 under Kitna because he is a great quarterback, but because he took command on the field and wasn’t afraid to get in the face of other players.
And here it comes, the two year player out of Texas A&M and the future of the Cowboys, Stephen McGee. Yeah, I said it. When Kitna got hurt at Arizona in week 16, the Cowboys turned to McGee to at least get the team in position to win the game. He did all that and more, throwing a pretty spectacular touchdown pass with under two minutes left. Although the Cowboys defense found a way to lose that game, McGee did it again the next week in Philadelphia, throwing for a game winning touchdown pass with under two minutes left to win his first career game in the NFL. That is pretty amazing considering he hadn’t attempted a pass in his two-year career with the Cowboys. Now saying he is the future of the team may be a stretch, but he has shown the organization that he is someone they might want to hold onto. Keeping him around under Romo and Kitna will only help his game. Playing in the last two games of the season gave the Cowboys a chance to evaluate him in game situations and he passed with flying colors.
The Cowboys need someone to come through in clutch situations at the quarterback position. Romo’s clutch moments have been a botched field-goal snap against Seattle in the 2006 playoffs, a game costing interception in the red zone against the Giants in the 2007 playoffs and the list goes on. McGee came in with his back against the wall and performed well enough to get the Cowboys in contention to win one game, and won another thanks to late game heroics. If groomed right, McGee could be the next one in line to take over the most prolific position in all of football.
Next post we’ll take a look at the Cowboys backfield….