Coach Flynn's US Blog - Sweet 16/Elite 8
Well this is my last night in the US...and what a way to finish up the trip with an exciting Elite 8 game between UNC and Wisconsin. This game, plus the other Sweet 16 games I went to, were held in the Carrier Dome at the University of Syracuse.
The facitilty was originally built for the Orange's football team, however, when its hoops season they divide the stadium in half and put up some makeshift seats across the field so it puts the capacity at about 35 000+ people. Its quite amazing to see that many people packed into a stadium to watch hoops...and I can tell you it makes all the difference - bigger atmosphere, more noise and a great deal of sledging between opposition supporters.
UNC won the game over the Badgers by 6 pts. The Tar Heels, although not quite hitting their best form in the tourney yet (they have only narrowly one their last two games), had just too much talent and held on for the win. Sean May, the UNC Centre, was awesome with 20/10 double double and some great interior passes to the other UNC bigs. Raymond Felton also was key for the Heals, playing through a sprained ankle to have a strong game. Those two, plus forwards Rashard McCants and Marvin Williams would all be first round selections if they came out for this year's draft.
The other big news from the college scene was the huge wins by Illinios and Louisville last night. Both teams came back from massive deficates - the Illini rolling over Arizona in OT after being down to the Cats by 9pts with 1:30 to go and Louisville giving up 18 3s (yes that's right 18 3s!!) and being down by 20 in the second half to beat West Virginia. They were both great games and showed off some future NBA players. My favourite is Deron Williams from Illinois, who draws comparisons to Jason Kidd but is in fact a much better shooter, although not quite the playmaker.
Speaking of shooting, I have been quite surprised by the accuracy of the shooters in this year's tourney. The US college system has been getting a bit of a bad rap over the last few years for not producing the quality of shooters it has in the past becasue the players are not staying as long in school...heading off to the pros after 1 or 2 seasons. However, this years tourney has been quite the contrary, there a plenty of teams that could shoot the hell out of it (WV, Louisville, Duke, UWM, Wisconsin just to name a few), and not just 1 or 2 guys who could stick it, but 5 or 6 who could, including a lot of big guys. It only went enhanced what was an already exciting product.
See you back down under.