Another mystifying March Madness!
Who invited Virginia Commonwealth? Certainly not Dick Vitale, who wanted to see Virginia Tech in the Tournament. And Butler, back again, after losing its best player from last year’s improbable run?
And while Kentucky and Connecticut reside among basketball’s bluebloods, these two editions weren’t supposed to still be playing, either.
Let’s allow the coaches to explain how this happened. All quotes are taken from the official NCAA-sanctioned post game press conferences, as transcribed at asapsports.com.
Steve Fisher, San Diego State: Connecticut is good. They guard hard. Obviously, we didn’t shoot free throws well enough today, and free throws can advance you or send you home. Walker is very good, he’s a hard guard.
Translation: We missed 37 of 64 shots, 15 of 22 threes, and 7 of 13 free throws. How’d we stay within seven of UConn?
Jim Calhoun, UConn: When we came out in the second half, one of my fears has been that somewhere along the line that psychic energy, this is now our eighth game in 16 days, or something, but not physically, but mentally, and we had a let up, we got up by 7, 8, or 9, and they came back.
Translation: Talk about psychic energy! Our guards scored 60 points!
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: They just got on a real roll. When you get on a roll, you have more energy than the other guy who doesn’t get on a roll. We had no stop for them. And you kind of get overwhelmed a little bit.
Translation: Arizona did to us what we’ve been doing to everyone else for the past 25 years. It might have been psychic energy.
Dave Rose, BYU: Their overtime looked like they had a little more to finish the game than we did.
Translation: Mark Fox told me to beware of Florida in overtime, but I thought he meant the second overtime.
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin: You need to score. And once we didn’t score inside, I think the guys got a little gun shy, and then we started looking to hit some from the outside, and that didn’t work. I mean, you’ve got Jon Leuer 1 for 12? He’s a good player, a very good player, and he works hard.
Translation: We missed 39 of 56 shots, 22 of 29 threes, and 6 of 19 free throws. How’d we stay within seven of Butler?
Buzz Williams, Marquette: I thought they were outstanding. I knew they were really good, and I thought they played even better than good. We were completely uncharacteristic in every facet of the game. I thought in the first half we were pitiful.
Translation: They played very well in the first half. I looked up at the clock and it was 10-8 in our favor, and the next time I looked at the clock is when I went off at halftime, and it was 40-15.
Roy Williams, North Carolina: We played very well in the first half. I looked up at the clock and it was 10-8 in their favor, and the next time I looked at the clock is when I went off at halftime, and it was 40-15.
Translation: I thought we were outstanding. I knew we were really good, and I thought we played even better than good. They were completely uncharacteristic in every facet of the game. I thought in the first half they were pitiful.
Chris Mooney, Richmond: We weren’t able to slow them down in any way.
Translation: We played like Marquette.
Thad Matta, Ohio State: Kentucky’s the best team we played this year.
Translation: Once again, the SEC-Big Ten thing carried over from football to basketball.
Brad Stevens, Butler: When we were down nine, there was a media time out, and we just said, score, stop, score, stop, and the game will get a lot tighter. And we did score, we went down and got a stop, we hit a three. Now, all of a sudden, it went from nine to four. Now, all of a sudden, you’ve got a ballgame, and momentum late, and that’s a really good thing.
Translation: It’s a simple game, really.
Billy Donovan, Florida: I really thought the difference in the game was over those last nine minutes, there were just some plays.
Translation: It’s a simple game, really.
Sean Miller, Arizona: I give tremendous credit to UConn. You don’t have a feel of their great poise and how they control the game until you’re playing against them. They played with great poise.
Translation: Hey, we cracked Duke. You’d think we could’ve made these guys crack.
Jim Calhoun, UConn: I’ve been fortunate over 39 years to have a lot of teams do a lot of different things, but never could I imagine a team winning 9 games in tournament play in 19 days.
Translation: We’ve got psychic energy on our side.
Shaka Smart, VCU: Once again, we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into the game. But these guys believed they could win. They knew we could win.
Translation: So, we don’t deserve to be in the Tournament, huh? Let the naysayers beware! Now its off to Houston, and let’s win there!
Roy Williams, North Carolina: If you don’t really care who won the game, it had to be a game you enjoyed watching if you love basketball.
Translation: At least we looked good losing.
John Calipari, Kentucky: The resiliency of this team was unbelievable. It got late, they tied it up, and we didn’t back down. And it ends up being a great college basketball game.
Translation: Hopefully this is my first Final Four appearance that stays in the books.