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Jon Crispin, Westwood One NCAA Tournament Analyst

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb
The Truth Network Radio
March 24, 2023 7:12 pm

Jon Crispin, Westwood One NCAA Tournament Analyst

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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March 24, 2023 7:12 pm

Jon Crispin joined Zach to discuss how Markquis Nowell was able to take over Madison Square Garden and his impressions with Gonzaga's comeback over UCLA. 


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Auto Trader. John, appreciate you doing this. How you been?

Oh, I'm good. Well, I mean, what a time of year. And to be at the Garden for some of this, I mean, I felt like this was probably one of the best individual performances I've seen at the Garden, at least college basketball wise, since Kemba Walker. So what a fun night to be a part of. I mean, really in so many ways. You know, it's funny you say that because we opened up the show talking about Marquise Noel and we were talking about those great performances like from Kemba, Shabazz Napier, Steph Curry, Jimmer Fredette, Gordon Hayward.

Like we could do this all day. Jalen Brunson, Ryan Archidiacono, Jalen Suggs. You have a guy that's standing there at five, seven, five, eight from New York, and he just took over the NCAA tournament. He's been the best player in the tourney so far.

Yeah. Well, it's funny because so many teams think they have an idea of how to cover them, right? The hard hedge was Michigan State, but he just picks you apart. He's such a dangerous passer because he's almost has the same green light he has to shoot.

He has the green light to pass. And some of the passes he makes are not exactly ones that you'd see most coaches be okay with to the point where the defense doesn't even know it's coming. If you think about a quarterback kind of throwing it by the ear of a linebacker who's out in coverage, doesn't even see the ball because you shouldn't be throwing that pass anyway, that's part of what made it such a fun watch. But the fans really got into it too. And the whole concept of a New York guard, you get lit up in the garden.

When you say New York City guard, it sounds cliche, but you think tough in mind, tough in body, and then just absolutely oozing with swagger. He had it. It was really one of the more humbling performances, particularly considering he went out with an ankle injury that I thought he was done for the year. I honestly thought I was like, that's it. That's the season's probably over because the way he turned his ankle, I thought that was going to be it.

Couldn't put any weight on it. He comes back, continues to will his team to victory, but still give Michigan state credit too. I mean, there's a reason why it was a great game because two teams played really well. I'm glad you brought up the quarterback point because the pass that he had to Kiante Johnson, when we were watching it live, I said, that's Patrick Mahomes on a basketball court.

Yeah. He had multiples. I mean, he would throw a backdoor pass that you sit in there going, that's a turnover. Oh, layup. Oh, that's a turnover up dunk. Like there were just so many plays like that, but then you, and you're kind of arguing with your coach, you keep your player and then the defense up and you know, awareness in terms of the corner of your eye. And he throws that lob in the overtime.

It was one of the more remarkable things I've ever seen. And it was almost as if he was toying with everybody. He was, he was playing the game. Everybody was trying to compete in the game. And it was just, it was one of those things that as an analyst, if you try to break certain things down, you try to say, well, maybe you want to trap, get the ball out of his hands, maybe show zone at one point, slow them down that matchup.

But the reality is you just kind of sit back and enjoy it. The best player often wins in the NCAA tournament. And without a doubt, Marquise Noel has been the best player before. And it was so fitting with how the way the game ended with him making the play and then just putting the cherry on top of the Sunday with the ridiculous layup. Yeah. And then there was Mateen Cleaves who, you know, last time Michigan State, last time Big Ten won a national championship.

It was 2000, my freshman year at Penn State. And Mateen Cleaves was sitting kind of right behind the press row along courtside. And you could see Marquise Noel jawing. He was jawing with Mateen Cleaves. And after he made that pass, he started the change that this is my city. And he just kept rolling with it. It was one heck of a matchup. But some of the crowd interaction was a big part of that too. It really brought you into the event.

John Crispin here with us. So the crowd was obviously all in support of Marquise Noel. And then it's always cool. I've been in the building when you have these teams. Like I know that FAU's at 9C, but I've heard of like the Florida Gulf Coast chants when FGCU went on that great run and they beat Georgetown. When you get a sense of an underdog and you're in the tourney, everyone chanted FAU last night. It's like, what the heck are we doing? That's the NCAA tournament.

Yeah. I tell you, it was interesting too, because as FAU came back in the game, you could see even the Kansas State fans really cheering along FAU. But then it was almost got to a point where you're like, all right, they, they won by seven, but it got to a point where I almost felt the Kansas State fans go, wait a second. Should we rather play Tennessee?

I almost got that feeling. Cause, cause you saw the way FAU tapped. You saw how physically they were able to come back in this game. They leveled up in terms of physicality and toughness, which was a pretty remarkable thing to do given that Tennessee has just been kind of the most physically imposing team in the tournament. But this FAU team's not a Cinderella. I mean, I guess we can call them a Cinderella cause they haven't really done anything in the NCAA tournament, but they're a top 25 program and deserving of so. It's 34 and three, you don't win 30 plus games without being a legit program. I mean, we've said that before about Gonzaga.

Well, what's the competition like? No, you win 30 plus games. You're doing something right. This is a team that's won 20 in a row at one point this season. They know who they are. They know how to get the game played to their liking.

I mean, they can set the terms of the game. And I think they're actually a dangerous opponent for a team like Kansas State where, you know, FAU might be a little bit more switch heavy. And I think that could be a challenge for Kansas State. It was almost stunning in the final 10 minutes, just how inefficient Tennessee was, but I got to give credit. Like you were saying to the FAU defense, they just gave them no space in the paint. Well, part of the reason why they didn't have space is because they couldn't shoot and they weren't willing to shoot. And, you know, granted, you lost the guy Ziegler earlier this year.

He's like your playmaking point guard and you have to put basketball on the basketball. And you do, you limit yourselves in some way. But I think the way I look at it is this. All the guys on Tennessee, they didn't even think about going to Florida Atlantic. If they got a letter from Florida Atlantic, they never even opened it.

And there's not a single guy on Florida Atlantic that probably got recruited by Tennessee. So you look at that and say, guys, you were superior players, yet you don't know how to play superior basketball. You were all superstars where you came from, yet at this level, you have no confidence to be able to score on the offensive end. And as we're seeing, when you look at, you know, the strengths of Alabama, you look at the strengths of Kansas State, you look at the strengths of Gonzaga and their comeback last night and UConn, they're offensive minded teams.

And we're getting to a point now, particularly with these two year teams, the transfer portal, and I own all this stuff. Teams aren't as great defensively as a team. The physical teams could be good defensively, like, you know, the toughness and physicality of Tennessee on the defensive end, that makes them a good defensive team, but ultimately offense wins. And I think as so long as we continue to follow that trend of offense wins, we're going to have better basketball. It'll be more fun.

It'll be, it'll be more competitive games possibly played in the seventies, eighties and nineties and less than the fifties and sixties. John Crispin here with us, the Gonzaga UCLA game, John, it was so weird because early on it was like, Oh, it's disappointing. It's a blowout. UCLA is up 13 and a half. And then Gonzaga was blowing out UCLA and the final 90 seconds. I've never seen anything like that.

Yeah. Well, you know, you know, when you have seen something like it in other Gonzaga, UCLA, and that's what it was. And I don't know where that comes from because I haven't really been that big on this Gonzaga team.

And I don't mean to say that in like a negative way. I know they're scoring a lot of points that they're leading the country in scoring, but I just haven't seen that killer instinct from them. And they lost a lot from last year, but you can just see the type of, the kind of, the kind of confidence you get from playing through Drew Timmy. He commands attention and when he commands attention, defense gets out of position. When he's such a good passer and playmaker, they're able to space the floor, move the basketball well, and if you can move the basketball well and make shots, you can come back when you're down. And I think Gonzaga has that recipe.

Now from a consistency standpoint, I don't see it. If UCLA is at full strength, David Singleton and Jalen Clark are there, different story, but the reality is UCLA couldn't come up with the stops to win that basketball game. And yet again, we get another thriller from UCLA and Gonzaga. Yeah, it is unfortunate because with the Dean Bona injury and then Clark right before the tourney, it felt like UCLA, if they are healthy, they're probably the best team in the country, in my opinion.

Yeah, I'd have to say yes. The only question is like, who are they offensively? I think that's been the challenge. It's almost like the group is missing that Johnny Juzang level player.

Like Johnny Juzang, when they weighed that final four run, he was a lights out jump shooter. And you probably have to play through Jaime Hocquez more. And that's going to be a challenge, but ultimately they get stops. They're rooted in their toughness. And I think Mick Cronin is building this thing for the long haul. It's not about just getting good now with the group you've got. It's about establishing a foundation. I think a lot of people are surprised to hear that you have to establish a foundation at UCLA. Well, but the reality is that the foundation is not what it once was under John Wood.

The realities of today are different. You really need to root something good if you want to maintain it, if you want to sustain something, make it perpetual. And I really think Mick Cronin is doing a great job of focusing on playing the long game. It's not just about winning a game. It's really about building this team and building this program with a strong foundation that is sustainable. John Crispin, when you take a glance at Gonzaga and you talked, I heard your analysis on them and it's fair because heading into this tournament is the first time in a while that there hasn't been pressure on Gonzaga.

And now they're three wins away from getting a marked viewer championship. And that's an interesting part too, where the expectations are down a little bit, maybe, you know, however you view that if you're a Gonzaga fan, you still probably expect them to win a national championship. But I think if you're being realistic, you don't see the personnel that can score the way they always have. So maybe that frees them up.

Maybe that's freeing for a guy like Wazir Bolton. And maybe he can make a higher percentage of shots. And if you start making a higher percentage of shots around the perimeter, you get the space you like, you get more ISO opportunities for someone like Drew Timmy.

If Strother can be effective from the perimeter. I think they have the opportunity to do it, but freeing them up might be the biggest key. And I think the pressure of expectation really is brutal for college kids. I don't think they realize how difficult it is, particularly when you add NIL, particularly when you add professional opportunities beyond this. It really is challenging.

So maybe this frees them up a little bit, makes them a little more dangerous. And it kind of does feel with how dominant UConn's been that I bet you a lot of people are going to take UConn over Gonzaga in this game. Oh, absolutely.

I mean, I would. I mean, I look at the national championship game and I say, God, if I got UConn and Alabama, that would be a terrific national championship game. Tough teams who can be defensive minded with their length and physicality, but also want to score. UConn is playing as well as anybody right now. And I think there was a moment there earlier in the season where they looked as good as anybody, but then they got bored. And then they got challenged by the Big East, which snuck up on us a lot. I don't think people realize how good the Big East was and how it is. I mean, you look at the teams that are left in the field from the Big East.

Yeah, it's still a solid group. We talked about Creighton earlier this year coming out of Maui. They're a national championship good.

Well, they lose Ryan Kochbrenner and that falls off a little bit. So I think UConn was probably surprised by how good the Big East was, but throughout that process of playing in the Big East, you developed an antifragility to figure out how to win in different styles, which ultimately makes you even more dangerous in March. John Crispin, before we let you run the games tonight, I know Alabama, San Diego State just underway. Bama's up 3-0 right out of the gate. You got Princeton, Creighton as well. Can you make the argument for San Diego State and Princeton or is this just going to be Alabama and Creighton advancing to the Elite Eight? I have a tough time thinking Princeton can beat Creighton and I have a really tough time thinking that San Diego State can stay with Alabama. I think Alabama is as good as advertised.

Two of everything, great length. They look to score it. And Brandon Miller's the best pro in college basketball. There's no way around that. So I do. I think it's Alabama. I think it's Creighton. And the real question is, what type of Creighton team would we see against Alabama?

Because Creighton can be really dangerous too. So I look forward to that regional so long as those two advance. And then finally, Miami, Houston, and then also Xavier, Texas. That's the field tonight of what Gonzaga UCLA and Kansas State, Michigan State was last night.

Where do you go in those two matchups? Well, I'll tell you, you know, Houston, I love their defense and ultimately it goes down to the real health of Marcus Sasser. If he could be that scorer, I think they could be national championship good. Now the challenge is for Houston, the best way to beat pressure is to attack it off the bounce. And that's what Miami has. They can attack you off the bounce with pretty much all, I'd say four or five positions on the floor at any given time. That's what makes them so dangerous. And they don't really run a lot of offense. They don't have to. They really get into action and then get into attack mode.

And that's what makes them so dangerous. So I think that's going to be a good game, but I think ultimately the offensive rebound and the physicality of Houston kind of gives them a bit of an advantage. And Xavier, Texas? Oh, Xavier, Texas.

I think Texas was a really impressive team and I thought Penn State got a tough draw having to play Texas, mainly because of the matchup. But I just really like what Sean Miller's done with his group. I think he's been freed up too. Kind of got a second lease on life. Now he just looks like a trailblazer with what's going on in college basketball at the moment.

Everything that was under the table now just moved above the table and it's all good. I actually like Xavier in this. I think they've got the physicality and the guard play. And I think Jack Dungy is one of those kinds of X factor guys because of his ability to stretch the floor.

One more for you before we let you run. All these years later, what does that run that you went on with your brother mean to you when you look back at it? It means more now seeing that Penn State team this year. We saw the Penn State team this year and I thought they were terrific. I thought that was a really good Penn State team. And I'm like, man, how hard is it to get to a sweet 16?

We see these, the St. Peters of the world, the FAUs and you think, well, it can't be that bad. Well, it's tough. You had to beat a two seed and it really comes down to the right two seed. Now I think in North Carolina when we won, we beat North Carolina was a two seed. I think we got the right two seed.

We were able to be physical and I think it gave us a bit of an edge. Tough two seed for the Penn State team this year to take out Texas, which was such a brutal matchup. But I think the hope for us with Penn State and hope for my brother in particular, he's in coaching and obviously wants to be there someday. The hope for us is to be forgotten someday. And the problem is we still matter. And part of the reason why we still matter is because Penn State hasn't figured it out consistently enough to make us not matter anymore.

So hopefully one day the sweet 16 run in 2001 is a mere afterthought and somewhat forgotten. And I can't fault Shrewsbury for taking the Notre Dame job. I just wonder who they're going to hire. Like I look at Dusty May, Pat Kelsey, probably the first two names at the top of my list. Yeah, I'd say Dusty May in particular. He's got big 10 ties up his time at Indiana under Bob Knight.

Whether it's now or someday it'll be my brother. He wants to coach there. That's all he wants to do.

He's a Division 3 head coach, multiple NCAA tournaments at the Division 3 level, multiple conference championships. So at some point it'll be him. And I know his process right now is he wants to help the right hire. He wants to help Pat Kraft and at least clarify the vision for the program so it's more of a long-term hire and not just a stepping stone job. If we have this as a stepping stone job again, no one really gets served well. And we're going to be right back to square one, two, three, four, five years down the road and the program doesn't really get any better. So I think we really need to look at this thing as a long-term hire and build this program to the point where it's relevant.

Well my producer Hatte Kicke is a big-time alum at Penn State, proud graduate. When your brother's eventually coached to the team he wants a courtside ticket to the Bryce Jordan Center, right? Well deal, deal.

Maybe let's make that future start sooner than later. You got it. John, great job for Westwood One throughout this tournament calling the NCAA tournament. We appreciate the time. You got it, my pleasure.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-24 20:27:19 / 2023-03-24 20:35:34 / 8

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