The Big Dance (oh, and a couple Laker notes)

Kurt —  March 13, 2007

Why waste time — who do you have in your Final Four? I’ve got Florida, Kansas, Georgetown and Texas A&M, with Kansas beating A&M in the finals.

There is no shortage of information on college teams out on the Web, but if you want some of the stats I use here to help with your picks check out Ken Pomory’s site, which has more quality info than just about anywhere. And, if all you care about is the NBA and you’re watching the NCAA games just as draft scouting, be sure to check out the NBA Fanhouse series College Eye For The NBA Guy where they break down potential draft picks to watch.

As for a few thoughts on the local teams…

If you don’t know much about Long Beach State, check out my primer over at LAist. They bring the Phoenix Suns “small ball” — but with a more gambling defense — to the college game. They start three guards and the tallest player is 6’6”. They average 68 possessions a game, the 19th fastest pace in the nation (out of 366 teams), with an offensive rating of 109.6 (points per 100 possessions). The guy to watch is Aaron Nixon, he has just about unlimited range, well beyond the NBA three, and he is fearless about shot selection (in both the good and bad way). Plus with five seniors starting and seven in key roles, Long Beach can be dangerous.

Except that they get a bad match up (but a fun one for fans), Tennessee plays almost exactly the same style but do it better. They are 15th in the nation in pace (73 possessions a game) with an offensive rating of 115.1. For fans this will be a fun game to watch, up and down pace and a lot of scoring and steals. Bet the over and enjoy.

For USC, I want to see them match up with Texas in the second round. Nick Young and Kevin Durant could put on quite a show, and that would be a lot of quality athletes on the floor at the same time. Texas will win, but that will be fun.

As for the Bruins, I really like them — I just like Kansas better, hence I have UCLA losing in the elite eight. But they play great defense (Laker fans, that’s what a defensive rotation looks like, in case you were wondering) and any team that does that has a chance. Plus, Collison at the point is a great floor general who gets the ball to the hot hand and to guys in good positions. I’ll be pulling for them to screw up my pool.


Just a few Laker things while we’re at it:

• Kobe’s wayward elbows have gotten him in more legal trouble. Really, we all should have seen this one coming.

• Very interesting post (aren’t they all) by Roland Lazenby wondering what Phil Jackson is up to:

Where Phil’s relationship with Michael and Shaq worked because of a strong supporting cast, Phil’s relationship with Kobe is now perhaps suffocating a superstar.

Once he forms a relationship, Phil tends to cut off communication between the rest of the coaching staff and the superstar. It’s Phil and the star, with little outside interference tolerated.

This season for the Lakers is mostly kaput. IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

So Phil needs to lighten up a bit with Kobe. Let him loose to enjoy whatever they can find in this year’s circumstances.

But Laker fans also have to lighten up. Phil’s basic premise, his MO of forming a strong bond with his superstar, is a proven thing.

The Lakers must start again next season, once again bringing along the supporting cast as Kobe matures into the star and leader he can be. When they were healthy and growing dynamically as a team, they earned the fans’ patience and forbearance.

In this case, “wait until next season” is not a platitude. It’s a legitimate strategy.