Game Notes: First Round Running Diary
Live from Louisville/Morehead State, Vanderbilt/Richmond, BYU/Wofford, and St. Johns/Gonzaga.
2:29: Game #2 tips off! Excited for the game, but especially to see Richmond’s Justin Harper, a talented 6-10 inside-out guy that should be a nice addition to any NBA squad.
2:36: The game’s first time-out shows the current Princeton-Kentucky score (which the Tigers led by 3 in the second half) and the remaining Morehead/Louisville fans absolutely loved seeing the Wildcats trailing to an Ivy League team. Actually, if Princeton can hold on, then Morehead would be the only team from the Bluegrass state to make it past the first-round. I check to see if Richmond Head Coach (and former Princeton forward) Chris Mooney steals a peep at the “out of town scores.” He doesn’t.
2:40: I was very public that Vanderbilt was my “Big conference sleeper.” I love Jeffrey Taylor, the Commodore forward. At the “under 12” time-out, Vandy enjoys a five-point lead over the Spiders.
2:46: Right behind me, the Morehead players (now showered and changed) ascend into the team’s fan/family section. Applause and hugs abound.
2:48: Taylor drives baseline for an impressive two-handed flush in traffic. Commodores take an 18-10 lead.
2:55: After the Spiders switch to a zone defense, Vandy immediately finds John Jenkins (the best natural long-range shooter in the nation) and he promptly nails three straight three-pointers. 29-18 Vandy lead.
3:10: Getting caught up in the UK/Princeton game, which coincided with a long delay due to a flagrant foul in my game. With three left, the Commodores cling to a 3-point advantage.
UK HOLDS ON as Brandon Knight nails a tough floating lay-up with two seconds on the clock! The NCAA TOURNAMENT, IT’S FANTASTIC! I would have loved to see an Ivy team advance.
3:17: The first half ends, with Vandy holding firm to a three-point lead, 35-32.
It’s time for snacks/bathrooms/check messages/watch Northern Colorado v SDSU/prepare for a radio interview that I will be doing between games.
4 PM: Well, actually it turned into grabbing a quick dinner, as they rolled out the buffet a little early. The chicken fajitas and minestrone were nice. I passed on the St. Paddy’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage.
Well, Vandy raced to a quick lead in the second half but the Spiders nailed a series of 3’s to not only close the gap, but with just 9 minutes left, they actually took a three-point lead.
4:04: At the “under 8” time-out, the game is knotted at 55. Not too shabby.
4:09: Harper makes a circus runner in the lane to give the Spiders another 4-point lead. The crowd here has blatantly gotten behind Richmond. The neutral fans want another “upset!” Although, if Richmond pulls it out, I don’t consider it to be much of an upset.
4:12: Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, Kevin Anderson and Harper are currently a combined 11-30 from the floor, but the Spiders are leading it 62-58 with six remaining. Vandy big man, Festus Ezeli has been a force to reckon with, as he gets loose for an open dunk.
4:17: So there was this cat-faced (obviously had major surgical work done) woman that I had seen the last couple days doing sideline reporting for the CBS crew. I was blown away when someone near me noted, “You know that’s Leslie Visser?” No way. It legitimately looked nothing like the Visser I know. TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING AIN’T GOOD!
4:23: With just over two remaining, the Spiders cling to a two-point lead.
4:24: Vandy calls a time-out with the ball, 59 seconds remaining and trailing by two points. So, needless to say, this Denver region has been pretty solid, so far.
4:27: Richmond holds the ball up one, under 30 seconds. Anderson drives to the hole and hits a difficult fall-away just outside the paint for a three-point lead and 19 ticks remaining.
4:31: A Richmond steal all but seals the game for Richmond; a three-point lead, two shots and just 5 seconds remaining. While not a buzzer beater, it was pretty damn good.
4:33: HOLD IT! A missed Richmond free-throw and a subsequent foul gives the Commodores new life!
A few more free throw misses extended the game, but Vanderbilt could not even things out. 69-66 final.
So the morning session gave us a one-point and a three-point game. Tonight is BYU/Wofford and Gonzaga/St. John’s in the night-cap. This might sound funny after the day’s nationwide craziness, but I think that last game might turn out to be the best.