COMING UP BIG
What's the definition of good timing? Putting up a career high in an NCAA tournament game. Here are six players who pulled off that feat.
JAMES AUGUSTINE, F, Illinois: Who says the Illini don't have post scorers? Augustine had 23 points (to go with 10 rebounds) in a second-round win over Nevada. Previous high: 21.
ANDREW BOGUT, C, Utah: With Oklahoma collapsing on defense and limiting him to just 10 points, Bogut responded by dishing out seven assists. Previous high: five.
PAUL DAVIS, C, Michigan State: When Davis provides a rebounding presence, the Spartans are tough to beat. He grabbed 14 boards in a win over Vermont. Previous high: 12.
KYLE LOWRY, G, Villanova (above): He came off the bench to score 15 points in a second-round win over Florida, providing the Wildcats with a much-needed lift after No. 2 scorer and leading rebounder Curtis Sumpter injured his left knee in the first half. Previous high: 12.
IVAN MCFARLIN, F, Oklahoma State: The senior scored 31 points, hitting 11 of 12 from the foul line, in the Cowboys' second-round defeat of Southern Illinois. Previous high: 27.
GERMAIN MOPA NJILA, F, Vermont: After averaging 5.8 points this season, he scored 20 (on 9 for 10 shooting), and grabbed nine rebounds, in a first-round upset of Syracuse. Previous high: 15.
COMING UP SHORT
What's the definition of bad timing? Having your worst game of the season in the NCAA tournament. Here are five players who fit that ignominious bill.
GERRY MCNAMARA, G, Syracuse: The Orange was used to McNamara's rescuing it, but he shot 4 for 18 (1 for 7 from three-point range) in a loss to Vermont. McNamara also made the game's costliest turnover when he dribbled the ball off his foot with Syracuse down by two in the closing seconds of overtime.
AARON MILES, G, Kansas: He had four points (0 for 5 shooting) in the loss to Bucknell, the second time this season the senior (9.3 points per game) failed to make a field goal.
DEREK RAIVIO, G, Gonzaga (above): After averaging 13.0 points with four 20-plus outings, he scored five on 2 of 7 shooting and did not make it to the line in a loss to Texas Tech.
ANTHONY ROBERSON, G, and MATT WALSH, G-F, Florida. Gators' sharpshooting duo fired mostly blanks, making a combined 11 of 49 shots (6 of 27 on threes) in Florida's two games. Roberson was especially frosty from beyond the arc, shooting just 1 for 12.
Even freshmen who have had stellar seasons tend to tighten up in the crucible of the NCAA tournament. Here's how four first-year point guards graded out:
RAJON RONDO, Kentucky (left): A. In wins over Eastern Kentucky and Cincinnati, he was his usual disruptive self on defense (seven total steals) and had 28 points, 11 assists and seven turnovers.
RONALD STEELE, Alabama: C. Though his offense in a loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee (16 points, eight assists, three turnovers) was satisfactory, he was overmatched on defense by the Panthers' speed.
JORDAN FARMAR, UCLA: F. He was cold from the outside (1 for 9), made only one trip to the line (missing both free throws) and committed four turnovers (to five assists) in a loss to Texas Tech.
DANIEL GIBSON, Texas: F. The Longhorns' leading scorer (14.2) was strangely tentative until the final minutes of a loss to Nevada, finishing with eight points, zero assists and three turnovers.
END OF THE LINE?
When contacted on Sunday morning, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim declined to comment on the status of junior guard Billy Edelin (left), who hasn't played since Feb. 19 and did not make the trip to Worcester, Mass., last week for the NCAA tournament. (Freshman forward Dayshawn Wright was also left home, while freshman guard Josh Wright practiced with the team but was not at the game. No official explanation was provided for the three players' absences.) Since arriving at Syracuse in 2001, Edelin has been suspended twice--for one year following allegations of sexual misconduct (no charges were filed) and for 12 games because he participated in an unsanctioned summer league--and last season he left the team in February for personal reasons. Boeheim has repeatedly welcomed Edelin back, but Edelin has not justified that faith. It's time for Boeheim to cut him loose.
1. College basketball will sorely miss Tom Brennan. At a time when many coaches take themselves way too seriously, the Vermont coach cum radio host was a breath of fresh air. Here's hoping he finds a bigger microphone sometime soon.
2. The NCAA needs to clamp down on the new fad of players' lifting their jerseys to show off the name of their school (above). Just as it did in recent years with trash-talking and hanging on the rim, the NCAA should make such showboating during the game an automatic technical foul.
3. It was great to see Villanova junior center Jason Fraser (21 points, 15 rebounds) have a big game in the Wildcats' win over Florida. Fraser has kept a positive attitude while dealing with multiple injuries (he's had three knee surgeries) during his career.
JOHN BIEVER (LOWRY)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (RAIVIO)
AL TIELEMANS (RONDO)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (EDELIN)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (JERSEY)