Alright, let's talk to Mike Tecorski, national college basketball writer, columnist, sporting news, Hall of Famer. He joins us on the Adam Gold show. Alright, sir.
First of all, thank you. I know it's very busy down there in Houston at the Final Four. Definitely one of the top 30 Final Four cities, I think. There you go.
If there are 29, then yes, it's one of the top 30. Exactly. All right. So first of all, we did a little experiment earlier about the lack of name recognition with San Diego State. And I wasn't even including this year's team. But it's hard to come up with a Mount Rushmore of San Diego State basketball at all. Right. You just can't you can't even name.
It's hard for me to name. I consider myself somebody who embraces the history of the sport. Like, I know Michael Cage. I know Kawhi Leonard.
I know Tony Guinn. Well, I think you'd have to put Steve Fisher up there because... Oh, I wasn't doing any coaches. Yes. We're doing coaches, of course. There are some programs that don't exist without that seminal coach. Sure. I mean, San Diego State would exist, but it wouldn't be this. They existed before Steve Fisher.
Yes. Michael Cage. Steve Fisher did not coach Michael Cage.
All right. So let me let me ask you this about first of all, San Diego State wins on a buzzer beater. And as somebody who has been otherwise busy with hockey, missed everything Saturday, did not see a thing from Saturday. I appreciate the way you wrote about the buzzer beater between San Diego State and Florida Atlantic, because it brought me there. It brought me to the moment. It brought me to the decision to not call time out defensively, you know, to let the whole thing play out, not to foul and then to let your defense go out and win that possession and create the opportunity for you to win the game on a shot and to not call time out. That is an incredible amount of trust in your team that we never see in college basketball today. I thought that was a brilliantly written piece that you can find a TSN mic on Twitter. Walk me through that whole sequence.
So I already feel like I was there because I read it. Well, it started with with them scoring with 38 seconds left a foul line jumper from their backup. Big guy, Jayden would be, uh, he had shot really poorly from the free throw line in the game at two of six. And, and some of those, I mean, believe me, those four were like, they should have given him another four misses just for the nature of the four. And yet when he, uh, when he stepped up and made that foul line jumper, it's now a one point game and there's 30 there's. And by the time they actually get the whole thing sorted out, by the time the ball goes through, it's, it's 36 and change.
So there's a six and change differential in the shot clock. And I'm sitting next to Pat 40 of Sports Illustrated and Pat said, I'm not sure I'd play this out. And, and I thought the same and concurred with him and he tweeted it and I retweeted his tweet and then, but then I thought about it and I thought, and this is sometimes a mistake sometimes people make in watching or even in coaching, uh, a particular game is we thought con conventional basketball.
Right. And, and the problem was we weren't thinking San Diego state, because if there's any defense in the country that you would trust with getting that stop, that's the one. And, and Brian Dutcher understood that, and that was the key him understanding his team and, and, and, and appreciating what his team was great at. And so they, the, in, in retrospect, not just because of the buzzer beater happened in retrospect when considering it, uh, yes, not, not fouling and playing the possession out with a six and change differential was the right play. And so then it came down to, uh, they, they kind of had a feeling that at some point, uh, FAU would get the ball on some sort of downhill drive, even though they're good at preventing that, they figured that by that point in the game, they understood that this team had a pretty good plan and was able to execute that. And, but they needed it to be a tough drive.
And, and that happened, uh, uh, they were able to get a rope, uh, to, to come over and help. And I asked him if he had blocked the shot, cause it looked like he could have gotten some on it cause the shot was really kind of meager. And he said, I don't remember.
That was the best answer. I don't remember if it was all a fog and then it comes off the rim in front, which was perfect for where, uh, where Nathan mental was, was positioned and he grabbed the ball and, and immediately knew where it had to go because there wasn't any time at that point, there were eight, there were about eight seconds when the ball came off the rim and you can't waste any of it. And so he turns and he finds Lamont Butler at that instant. And he, and I said, I said to him, I said, was it hard to find Lamont? And he said, the ball finds Lamont. That was a, those guys are awesome.
There's a great answer. The ball always finds Lamont and he came off the sideline, came right to the middle to get the outlet. And then he brought it up court. And the interesting thing was the one thing that didn't go right on that play was Lamont dribbled down looking for an avenue. He took it all the way down to the baseline and, and, and from where we were sitting, not far from where Jim Nance was sitting, it looks as if he was never going to get a shot off. We could see the clock, we could see him, we could see the defense.
It's like, there's no shot. And what I couldn't see was he nearly stepped on the end line, uh, at, and when he took it too deep, but he was able to make a one dribble move back and, and then lean to his left and, uh, he lost the defender in that move and had a clean look at the bucket and he made it. It was, and so all of that goes into those re literally, I guess 38 seconds to an extent, but those eight seconds was where so many things happen.
And it was fascinating to be able to take readers through that. I also think that when you're, if you are a good coach and you've gone over all of these scenarios time and time and time again in practice, that if you're good, if your message gets through, then your players know what they're supposed to do. And sometimes the expected on the other side is they're going to call a timeout. They're going to call a timeout to set it up. And when you don't, you're putting the other team in a little bit, you know, taking them out of their comfort zone. I always rather also, most of the time you have the ball where it needs to get anyway.
And when you start going through an inbound situation, sometimes that doesn't happen and all that stuff is gone. So I think that is, to me, that is really good coaching on their part. Let me ask you about Connecticut.
We only have about five or so minutes here left anyway. I apologize for that. Danny Hartley has done a great job. How much is Connecticut's resurgence due to the fact that they're back in the Big East? No, I'm not trying to knock the American, but it's different. How much of the being back in the Big East has benefited Connecticut? It's enormous, really. The American, you can see now as other members start to go elsewhere, several will be in the Big 12 next year.
The American was something of a marriage of convenience. The Big East is a true basketball centric league. And UConn needed to acknowledge, yeah, we're never going to be all that good at football. We can keep doing it because it's cool on Saturdays, but like, it's not going to happen here.
Let's do what we do best. Women's basketball, men's basketball. And that, and that, and for them, especially with the men's side, the Big East is where to be.
The women would obviously be better in some other leagues because they're like, do you look at maybe the ACC or SEC or the Big 10 where competition is deeper, but the men needed to be in a league that was basketball first. And that's where the Big East is helping them. The Lenovo, St. John's, Providence, all those schools are basketball first. You want to take it out further to Xavier and Creighton, but those schools, their athletic departments are all built around basketball and basketball success means everything. So I think it's helped UConn immensely to be in that environment. It's also their history.
And I think history matters. Part of the reason that I have been so down on Maryland basketball is that they have no, it's like they've given their culture back. No offense, and this is not about being mad or being, you know, the Big 10 is not a good basketball.
He had nothing to do with that. But Maryland is without a soul in Big 10 basketball. They make a ton of money. Good for them. And I'm sure over time they'll probably grow relationships, but they don't have a rivalry game. Zero.
Nope. No teams in that league look at Maryland as a rival, and Maryland can't look at any of them as a rival. They left all of that when they left the league. And you could probably say the same for Louisville, except there were occasional games maybe against Syracuse. But let me ask you about two schools in the Big East, Mike DeCorcy, that have new coaches. Rick Pitino, now at St. John's. Georgetown with Ed Cooley. Back in the 80s, they were part of the absolute powerhouse structure of college basketball. What are the odds that Pitino and Cooley return those two programs to prominence when no city schools, especially eastern city schools, are worth anything right now in college? Well, let's remember Villanova, and I, you know, I mean, it's in the suburbs.
Yeah. It's a Philly school. It's a Philly school, but it's in the, it's not even in the suburbs at Mainline. It's in the rich suburbs. It is. So, so it's a Philly school and they were really, you know, they were final four last year with Jay and national champion two times in the previous decade.
So I think it still can be done. I think they hired excellent coaches to do that in Georgetown's case. I know they hired the exact right coach to do it. I have the highest belief in Ed Cooley.
I think he's terrific. And then with Rick, you know, for me, the Rick hire was an obvious correct decision. It's up to Rick to make it the perfect decision.
Right. I did a thing. I did a column today grading the coaching hires in all six major leagues. And, and one thing I said was like, it's up to Rick. Like when, when, and I wrote this in a big long piece, I did as well in about Louisville and its championship banner and a 10 year anniversary of the championship because it doesn't exist is that Rick was vigilant when he was vigilant during those left during that last decade at Louisville. He, he, he was, he didn't, I was not always on the ball and I don't have any doubt that while he's recruiting for the next two, three months trying to get guys out of the portal and whoever, whatever top prospects might be left or undervalued prospects might be left. I have no doubt he'll put all the energy into that, but he has to keep his eye on the ball in order, in order for it to be the perfect hire. Otherwise, if you, if you're, if your attention is not, is not near constant, it, it can have, you can have problems like they had during the last decade at Louisville.
They had multiple problems because the attention span was elsewhere and he's 71 years old. He's allowed to have other interests, et cetera. But if you want to be the coach, this is what you signed up for. Yeah, I've, I have my doubts whether city, the, the city schools like St. John's or Georgetown, I'm not counting Villanova's city school. It's too, I'm sorry, it really is. If you walked on Villanova's campus and walked on Georgetown's campus, it doesn't matter where they are. You know what I'm saying? I mean, it isn't like, it isn't like, like Georgetown is, you know, there and there's a 7-Eleven on the next block, man. I mean, Georgetown is Georgetown. It's a place unto yourself. Georgetown might be an exception.
I don't think St. John's is an exception. I have my doubts as to whether they can truly be back. They have tried a lot of coaches, obviously none of them right, but they have tried a lot of coaches over the, over the years to get that place right.
And they have not done it. Really, what was it? Mike Jarvis was the last coach that, that won anything significant.
I think he made an elite eight, with, with Rod Artest. Yeah. With, with, with it, they, they should never have removed Fran when they did. And they, and they've paid for it for 25 years now. It's, it was a, it was a significant mistake. If they had problems with the way he was coaching, they were fixable. If they, if it wasn't about that, then, then, then their ego was too big. There were two sides from that. You know, each one said a different story, but whichever story it was, it was fixable.
And instead they went for the immediate ejection button and, and they've paid for it for 25 years. It's been a long time, man. I grew up in a time where St. John's and Georgetown were it. I grew up watching the Big East, even though I was an ACC fan, I really was.
I grew up watching the Big East all the time. Mike DeCorcio of the Sporting News. At TSN, Mike, have fun tonight at the national championship game in easily the 30th best final four city of Houston. There you go. Thanks. Thanks Mike. Take care.
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