Hey folks, I’m back again from courtside at the Maui Invitational for the afternoon/evening’s games in the winners’ bracket. I figured I’d give Chaminade some love in the picture above. Why not?
I’ll be giving you updates and hopefully getting some better pictures today, since a bunch of the ones I took yesterday just didn’t turn out great.
Cincinnati 69, No. 22 Maryland 57
Cincinnati pulled a bit of an upset yesterday, as they knocked Vanderbilt into the consolation bracket with a great win. They’re clearly riding that momentum as they have the early lead, 9-7 with 13:54 left in the opening half.
At the under-12 timeout in the first half, we’re all tied at 9-9. Maryland has a better idea of what it wants to do offensively but Cincinnati’s length and athleticism have stunted the Terps so far. On the offensive end, the Bearcats look to just want to drive and kick or dump it down to Yancy Gates in the post. That’s not very creative and against a veteran team like Maryland that could lead to a lot of turnovers. This will be an interesting game that will pit Maryland’s experience and quality against Cincy’s athleticism and strength. The battle between Deonta Vaughn and Greivis Vasquez should be fun to watch as well.
Freshman forward James Padgett just had a great put-back dunk for Maryland, pushing the Terps to a 14-11 lead. Padgett comes from a wildly successful high school program at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York. All they did during his high school career was win the New York City Championship four times. Ho-hum. All the guy does is win.
With 7:29 left in the opening half, Cincinnati has snatched back the lead, thanks to a corner 3-pointer by Deonta Vaughn. 16-14 Bearcats at the under-8 minute timeout.
Vaughn nailed another 3-pointer, this time from the opposite corner, giving the Bearcats a 19-14 lead and forcing Gary Williams to call a 30 second timeout to regroup. Vaughn is hot right now.
Super-frosh Lance Stephenson has shown up tonight. He just had a really nice steal off of Vasquez, capping the ensuing break off with a thunderous dunk. Vasquez has looked awful so far tonight. 25-14 Cincinnati with 3:13 left in the first half.
With 35.3 ticks left until the break, Cincy has a 29-18 lead. Deonta Vaughn is owning Vasquez so far. He’s just a more solid all-around player. Vasquez tries to be too pretty with everything as opposed to just finishing things off.
A great tip-in by Dion Dixon off a short shot jumper by Stephenson punctuates a half that Cincinnati owned. 31-18 Bearcats at the break.
Some numbers at the half:
Vasquez is 2-of-8 from the field, ending the half with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists to go along with 2 turnovers.
Vaughn leads all scorers with 10 points and Lance Stephenson is second with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Another halftime observation: Jay Bilas’ peach shirt is stylish.
By the way, I totally forgot to mention that James Padgett and Lance Stephenson played together in high school at Lincoln in Brooklyn. No wonder they won four straight New York City titles.
Interesting exchange just happened. Two scouts, one from the Timberwolves and one from the Lakers are occupying the seats directly in front of me. After Vasquez launched a corner 3-pointer that barely grazed the far side of the rim, the T’Wolves guy turns to the Lakers guy and says “That’s why he can’t play two…” the implication being that the only way you take Vasquez is if you think he can run the point in the NBA. With 14:47 left, it’s 39-26 Cincinnati after they countered a good run from Maryland.
44-33 Bearcats with 12:22 remaining. Stephenson just broke Maryland’s press basically by himself and hit Yancy Gates sprinting down the lane for a nice dunk. Those two are starting to work well together.
With 11:18 to go, Maryland is down 46-35. They’re getting beat on the boards, they’re press isn’t troubling the Bearcats and Cincinnati is finishing its chances. The Terps need someone to step up if they want to make it to tomorrow night’s final. Paging Greivis Vasquez…
9:45 left and the Bearcats are still doing what they want offensively. Yancy Gates just made a gorgeous little five-foot baby hook. He’s looking like a serious candidate for tournament MVP as he just added a nice turnaround lay-in. 51-36 Cincinnati.
Maryland takes a timeout right after Deonta Vaughn hits a 15-footer off the break to extend the lead to 53-36 with 9:15 to go. Gary Williams is beside himself. On the plus side, he looks great in the bright yellow polo he’s wearing.
Under-8 minute timeout, 55-42 Cincinnati. With 7:31 to go, Maryland looks sunk right now. Vasquez is trying to assert himself more now but he’s clearly forcing things. On the defensive end, Padgett just can’t matchup with Yancy Gates.
Timeout Cincy with 5:21 left and the Bearcats leading 58-44. Stephenson is really impressing tonight. He just had a monster offensive board that he layed back in. He clearly wanted to dunk it but didn’t get up enough to finish that way. Nice game for the freshman tonight.
Yancy Gates is just dominating. Back to back possessions with points for the big man, once on an offensive board and put-back and then on a breakaway dunk off a nice pass from Vaughn. Maryland is getting killed on the glass, mix in Gates, Vaughn and Stephenson and you’re not going to beat Cincinnati. 62-48 Bearcats with 3:22 to go.
Maryland is trying to make this into a ballgame late. 64-54 with 2:01 left. Right now the Bearcats are out-rebounding the Terps 41-31. That’s the key stat of the game right now.
Big early win for Cincinnati. Well done by Mick Cronin’s team. 69-57 Bearcats, they advance to the championship tomorrow against the winner of the next game between Wisconsin and Gonzaga.
I’ll be back with some final stats and notes in a bit.
Some final game notes:
Yancy Gates finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and a block. Lance Stephenson had 11 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. Deonta Vaughn finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.
Greivis Vasquez finished with 19 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers. But 9 of his points came at the free throw line. He finished 5-of-17 from the field.
Cincinnati out-rebounded Maryland 47-33.
The Terps shot just 35.8 percent from the field, while the Bearcats hit 44.3 percent of their shots.
Cincinnati logged 24 personal fouls compared to just 18 for Maryland. The Bearcats need to fix that as they move on, or it will come back to bite them.
On to the nightcap…
Gonzaga 74, Wisconsin 61
Great crowds from both schools, they have the two most vocal, enthusiastic fanbases here and they also have the biggest number of fans who made the trip. Should be an exciting chess match between the “Vampiric” Bo Ryan and the diminutive Mark Few.
Hey Shane Victorino is in attendance. I’ll try and get a picture or two of the flyin’ Hawaiian.
Quick, fast-paced game so far. 17-16 Gonzaga at the 11:56 mark. Sorry for the lack of updates so far. I was sitting on the floor trying to get some pictures of the action. So far Wisconsin looks solid but so does Gonzaga. Both teams are executing well. Shaping up to be a great game.
Gotta say, Victorino is a great guy. Hasn’t denied anyone autographs or pictures and even managed to smile when I told him I was blogging and he shook my hand and patted me on the back when I told him I was an old Padres fan who was bummed when they had to get rid of him.
With 9:04 to go in the opening half, the Zags are trying to open things up. 28-19 Gonzaga following a Bouldin breakaway layup, plus one. Can’t say enough about how much more impressed I am with Bouldin this year. The guy has improved his game in all facets. He clearly runs this team.
Same score with 7:53 left in the half. Gonzaga is far more athletic than they’ve been in years. Once this team gets a little experience they’ll be pretty dang good. Especially since they already have a go-to guy in Bouldin.
This crowd has been excellent. Just as good as I thought it would be. They’re in it on every call on both sides. It’s nice to see since the crowds at this year’s event haven’t been as big as usual.
With 6:12 left in the half, Bo Ryan calls a timeout after back-to-back breakaway buckets for the Bulldogs. 32-19 Zaga. Junior Steven Gray and sophomore Demetri Goodson are both all over the place for Gonzaga so far.
Wisconsin made a serious push to close the end of the half, but Gonzaga pushed back and is still out to a 43-33 lead at the break. Bo Ryan and Shane Victorino talked at the end of the half and I think Victorino headed back into the Badgers’ locker room. Possibly to deliver some inspirational halftime words? No idea, I’ll see what I can dig up.
I’m currently listening to a halftime conversation between a Cincinnati assistant and tournament director (and former Wake Forest and South Carolina head coach) Dave Odom. Odom is educating the young assistant on what he needs to do to stop Gonzaga if the Bulldogs are indeed the Bearcats’ opponent tomorrow night.
Some halftime numbers:
For Gonzaga, Robert Sacre has 10 points, 2 rebounds and a block; Steven Gray has 10 points, 2 boards and 2 assists; Matt Bouldin has 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers. The Zags shot 50 percent from the field and hit 10-of-12 from the free throw line.
Wisconsin got 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists out of Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor stepped up when Trevon Hughes went out with two quick fouls. Taylor finished the first half with 10 points and 2 assists.
At the under-12 timeout in the second half, Gonzaga still has the lead at 54-42. I really can’t say enough about the way Matt Bouldin plays the game. The guy knows how to get open, how to set others up and how to avoid mistakes. As a bit of a basketball purist, I love that kind of player. The kind of guy who doesn’t need to score to make a big impact on the game. He does everything, not just fill up the points column. Finding that kind of guy is increasingly rare these days.
I’ll say it again, Bouldin reminds me of how Kirk Hinrich played when he was at Kansas.
Not to go all Peter King on you and make crazy predictions way too early, but freshman forward Elias Harris (if he sticks around) will leave Gonzaga as one of the school’s all-time greats. Mark it down. He’s a 6’7, 215-pound kid who can really do it all from the small/power forward slot. He already wants to attack the basketball a lot, which is something you usually have to teach young post players. He’s aggressive and knows what he can do around the hoop.
To give equal time to some Badgers, Trevon Hughes will make the first-team All-Big Ten squad this year. He’s a scoring point guard who teams will have to shut down if they want to beat the Badgers.
Jon Leuer just dropped in a six-footer to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 58-52 with 8:58 to go. Gonzaga already has 7 team fouls, compared to just 4 for the Badgers. This could get dicey for the Bulldogs if they don’t stunt the momentum right here. Good timeout by Mark Few.
At the 8:45 mark, right out of the timeout, Bouldin nailed a huge pull-up 18-footer. That’s what seniors do. 60-52 Gonzaga.
At the 7:34 mark, Bouldin finds Sacre for a turnaround hook and a foul. 62-54 Gonzaga as we enter the under-8 timeout. Sacre is headed to the line after the stoppage.
I should mention that Jon Leuer has really shown up tonight. The junior forward has used every bit of his 6’10 frame to get easy buckets around the tin. Nice game for him so far.
With 5:12 to go the Zags have pushed the lead t0 67-56.
Freshman Kelly Olynyk has had a few nice defensive possessions back to back here for Gonzaga. Bouldin is on the line right now with 4:37 to go. Naturally, he made both, 69-56 Gonzaga.
A stop and a score here for the Bulldogs could all but salt this one away. That chance was blow by Olynyk’s travel on the previous possession.
Olynyk made up for his turnover with a power board on the defensive end, then Bouldin finished a lay-up after a gorgeous, old school up-and-under move. 71-56 Gonzaga at the under-4 minute timeout (3:00 left).
This one is about to turn into a free throw shooting exhibition. A very well played game by both sides, but Gonzaga is clearly the better team. I would say they’re the best in the tournament but Cincinnati has surprised me two days in a row, so I’m not going to bet against them putting in a good performance tomorrow night in the championship game.
Gonzaga is emptying the bench with 20.9 seconds left, this one is in the refrigerator.
And we’ve got our final, 74-61 Gonzaga wins and advances to the final tomorrow night to face the Cincinnati Bearcats. I’ll have some postgame notes and final stats for you in a bit.
Some final game notes:
Bouldin led the way for Gonzaga with 18 points. He added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and didn’t turn the ball over in 37 minutes. Steven Gray logged 38 minutes, scored 15 points, grabbed 5 boards and dished out 2 assists. Elias Harris added 12 points and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes.
A key stat here is that the Bulldogs hit 21-of-25 free throws. That’s huge, especially when you shoot 47.2 percent from the field and out-rebound your opponent 35-27.
For Wisconsin Jon Leuer had a nice game. He finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Travon Hughes was hampered by early foul trouble and manged to score just 7 points, while adding 8 boards and 3 assists. Jason Bohannon, a guy the Badgers need to have play well was off all night. Bohannon was just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc and finished with 7 points.
Sophomore Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench. He looked poised and controlled all night.
Well that’s it for today. I’ll be back and live-blogging the final tomorrow night when Gonzaga takes on Cincinnati.