March 20, 2009
It's been a buzzer beater-less NCAA tournament so far, but not for a lack of opportunities. Clemson, VCU, Tennessee and, to a lesser extent, Utah State all had chances to win or tie with shots in the final seconds of their respective first round games. Instead, each team had ineffective possessions that led to a player hoisting a contested shot in traffic that fell woefully short.
The natural inclination is to blame the coaches for drawing up the plays; but the coaches of some of those teams include Bruce Pearl and Anthony Grant, guys who have shown they can draw up late-game plays in the past.
So why was Pearl's team shooting a three-pointer when they were down two points and had 7.2 seconds to get to the basket? And it's natural that Anthony Grant would want Eric Maynor taking the last shot against UCLA, but why did it look like there was no other option on the floor? And that Clemson shot? Please, I'm eating here.
What all the shots have in common is a certain selfishness. Tyler Smith didn't look for any Tennessee teammates before throwing up his prayer from the corner, despite the fact that he had Wayne Chism open inside. But selfishness isn't always a bad thing. Eric Maynor and KC Rivers are the guys who should have taken the last shots for their respective teams, but neither got a decent look, let alone a good look. And in the Utah State game, Tyler Newbold took only his 17th trey of the year with 5.2 seconds left on the clock in his attempt to tie.
Maybe this is a symptom of guys wanting to become the next Bryce Drew. They want to be the hero. Sometimes that's exactly what a team needs, but no one has come through yet in the 2009 NCAA tournament.