Off The Boards

Off The Boards

By Jack Scheuer

March 20, 2019 Edition

In what is currently the most exciting time of college basketball, our mood is dampened somewhat with the firing of Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. That move, coupled with Fran Dunphy “retiring ” at Temple means we’ll be without two legendary coaches, who, the day after the season ends, will probably be invited to join the Big 5 Hall of Fame. And, there is no doubt that other honors will surely follow. These are two stand-up men, highly regarded coaches, who ran squeaky-clean programs. They are true Philadelphia treasures who will certainly be missed.

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Dunphy, one of the most highly respected coaches in the country, saw his 30-year career (580 – 325) evidently end last night with the Owls 81-70 loss to Belmont in the NCAA play-in game.  Belmont, recording its first ever tournament win, now moves on to play Maryland on Thursday.

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Questions, predictions, and observations regarding the little tournament that gets underway this week. These bits of information could either help you with your brackets, or quickly get you knocked out. It’s the NCAA’s folks, nothing is guaranteed. So here we go: Will coaching be a big factor? If so, I’m looking at Virginia and Gonzaga to meet for the title with the Zags winning the whole thing. Will little Wofford, with talented shooter Fletcher Magee, win a game or two? That wouldn’t surprise me at all. Which of the dark horses could go pretty far? My choices would be Houston, and LSU. And then there is the unknown, like Zion’s sneaker exploding again, or another FBI report causing a coach to be removed. It’s all part of what, in my opinion, is always the most enjoyable sports event of the year. Let’s hope it will turn out like it usually does: Non-stop Good Hoops.

                                     
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Trivia Time: What player holds the record for most points scored in an NCAA tournament game? Answer at the end of the column.

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Yale played well and deserved to win the Ivy League title.  However, having the championship game being played on its home court is totally unfair, just as it was last year with Penn winning at the Palestra. Surely those high-powered academics that run the conference can figure out a way to have its playoffs at a neutral court. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

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Times have changed department: It seems like more and more, at crucial times in games, we see assistant coaches taking over during timeouts. Can’t imagine a Wooden, Smith, Knight, etc. stepping aside at crunch time.  I know the game has changed through the years, but the general principles still prevail. And It’s really not that complicated.

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This and That: North Carolina’s flashy freshman guard Coby White, is that state’s all-time leading high school scorer….Should be some big- time guard play in the tournament with players like Murray’s Ja Morant, Cassius Winston from Michigan State, LSU’s Tremont Waters,  Anthony Cowan, Maryland, and Tre Jones from Duke … AJ Brodeur, Penn’s talented junior, led the Quakers in points, rebounds, blocks, and assists. And never stopped working…. Its always been said that winning close games is the mark of a good coach. Thus, it should be noted be that Fran Dunphy’s team was 8-1 this season in games decided by four points or less, and went 4-0 in overtime contests. Just sayin’.

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Answer to Trivia Time: In a 1976 game against Ohio U, Notre Dame’s great Austin Carr went off for 61 points.

This is the final “Boards ” for this season. Enjoy the tournament even though those upsets are killing your brackets, and have a nice summer.

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