Dawg Blog - NCAA's Day One

Well, Thursday got off to a rocky start down here in San Diego. While listening to Jim Rome pontificate on Barry Bonds and the WBC, I got a call from a friend on layover on his way down to San Diego. "Are you at Cox Arena?" he asked? "No," I said, still wiping the sleep from my eyes. "So you don't know what's going on?" he queried? "Nope," I said. What was it?

Well, looks like all the terror alerts were coming into full effect, as two bomb-sniffing dogs smelled something unusual by one of the consessions carts that circle around the top of Cox Arena, San Diego State's basketball complex.

Alerted to the scene, San Diego's bomb squad then had their bomb-detecting robot check the consessions out. Turns out the dogs probably just wanted some hot dogs with ketchup and mustard on them, but because of the delays in getting players, fans and everybody else back into Cox, the first-round schedule was quickly abandonded. Here's the new schedule:

12:50 - Marquette vs. Alabama
23 minutes following that game - UCLA vs. Belmont
TBA - Illinois vs. Air Force
TBA - Washington vs. Utah State

Here's the official NCAA Statement regarding the incident:

"In the normal course of security checks at Cox Arena this morning, a suspicious package was discovered. NCAA officials and law enforcement authorities agreed to evacuate the building. Te building was evacuated, and the package was examined by law enforcement. The all-clear has been given by law enforcement, and the games will continue with a revised schedule to be determined shortly. We will continue to remain vigilant in our security planning throughout the tournament, and the safety and security of our student-athletes, teams and fans is paramount."

Since I was still back at the media hotel, it didn't affect me. But it still reminded me of our boat cruise back during 911 and the uncertainty my parents went through, not knowing if I had been on that tour plane that went down during a tour of the Mayan ruins. So after those calls were made I went down to catch the media shuttle to Cox.

Getting there, you would have never known anything had happened. I got to courtside with 5-6 minutes left in the Alabama-Marquette game, blown away that it was so close. I left the hotel with the Tide comfortably ahead. The Golden Eagles' Steve Novak had a chance to tie it at the end, but couldn't put it down. "It was a set play, and we pretty much ran it to perfection," he said after the loss. "I ended up being wide open in the corner and Wesley Matthews got me the ball. I'm not really sure what I would change about it, it obviously didn't fall. It was probably the first open shot I had all night."

Novak went for 17 in the 90-85 loss to the Crimson Tide.

Belmont-UCLA halftime: Belmont was up early, but UCLA began to display their dominance late, pulling away to a 35-23 halftime advantage. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has 11 points and five boards at the break.

As an aside, when Gonzaga's Leon Rice decided not to accept the recently vacated head coaching position at Idaho, it left Vandal administrators with a little egg on their face. UW assistant Cameron Dollar is rumored to now be the leading candidate for that position, along with former LMU head man Steve Aggers. Having seen Dollar yesterday in the UW locker room, he seemed upbeat, loose and ready to talk about anything - as long as it was about Husky basketball. Clearly he's focused on his current task. If Dollar does decide Moscow, Idaho is in his future, it'll have to be after the Huskies make their tourney run.

UCLA over Belmont 47-28 with 12:59 left, second-half: With this game clearly in hand (not a shocker there), let's look at the early first-day carnage. Wichita State takes out the Hall by 20. There goes one of my Sweet 16 picks. I know, I always make at least one first-round pick that ends up being a serious head-scratcher. And I wonder if Craig Littlepage is thinking twice about giving that berth to the 'Hall instead of Cincinnati?

Second shocker - Montana over Nevada. This 12 over 5 upset means that Washington is in the clear, right? No need to worry about that 12 over 5 tourney jinx anymore... (right). This one was surprising in the sense that Yakima product Andrew Strait just seemed to have his way going up against all-everything Nick Fazekas. Definitely not the same Griz team the Huskies tossed out of round-one in Boise last year.

I guess UW-Milwaukee over Oklahoma is technically an upset, but what savvy bracketologist didn't take UWM? This matchup was begging for the underdog to come out on top. And I didn't take media darlings Winthrop, so I didn't lose a point there. The BC-Pacific game was a barn-burner for the first six minutes of overtime action, but then it was all Eagles. The Tigers could have done some serious damage to my bracket if they could have pulled the upset, but my final four remains intact. Alabama over Marquette is technically an upset, but the 7-10 games are usually as much a toss-up as the 8-9 games are. The rest looks like chalk so far. Iona is giving LSU all they want, and the GW, UNC-Wilmington game looks like it'll be another 8-9 clash of wills.

UCLA 60-28 with 8:43 left: A strange occurance; every time there is a media timeout, the entire crowd at Cox goes into spasms of booing, as if the media is to blame for their lot in life. Never experienced that before. Here comes the under-8 TV timeout, but very little booing this time. I guess it was because the PA announcer didn't say it was a 'media' timeout.

And this just in from the NCAA Department of Redundancy Department: apparently they misspoke in their 'statement' regarding the supposed bomb. "In the earlier release regarding today's building evacuation, reference was made to a 'suspicious package'. To clarify, no 'package' was found."

Glad we got that clarified. But wait! Too bad the NCAA didn't proof-read their 'clarified' statement, because it still makes mention of this non-'package'. And everyone is at an utter and total loss as to why the NCAA is a bankrupt organization...

End of game 2 - UCLA over Belmont 78-44 - Bruins beat Bruins. Too bad when one has to beat up on it's own kind, but that's what the NCAA tourney brings - no remorse. Looks like the Muskateers of Xavier are giving Gonzaga all they can handle, up three at the half. Iona up five over LSU? Let's hear it for the mid-majors! Now it's time to grab some more quesadillas and get ready for Air Force-Illinois; another one that looks like an absolute laugher on paper. The UCLA and Belmont fans are still leaving Cox Arena, there's not one fan in their seats, and there's literally 12:40 left on the pre-game clock. The two teams are warming up and there's not one soul in their seat. One of the weirdest images I've seen in a while. Watching the Air Force and Illinois fans try to get in their seats before tip will be high comedy, for sure...and to add to it, we're already falling behind the NCAA's revised schedule, as strange as that may sound...I bet the fans outside are screaming bloody murder, as now the pre-game clock is at 9 minutes and still not one butt in the seats. It truly feels like a practice day, like yesterday.

This is the most surreal situation I've ever seen. The horn is about to go to start the AFA-Ill game and NO ONE is in the stands. Fans are starting to filter down, but when the Illini came out, it was just their band playing and that was it. Now there are fans coming down the aisles. Weird, just very weird.

Ill 7-6 over AFA with 15:19 left in 1H: Game going on, no one home. That's the story so far. Fans filling up the joint like lemmings, but it's probably only at 10 percent capacity. Just a very unique situation. Definitely sucks for the fans, and the UW and USU fans are going to probably end up getting the greatest brunt of it, since they are last up.

Ill 27-19 over AFA with 5:11 left in 1H: The Illini on the verge of blowing out the Falcons, but AFA just won't go away. They rely too much on the 3, but they kind of have to. Ill just has to keep pounding it inside. That's their game.

Ill 35-28 at the half: The Falcons just refuse to go away and Ill doesn't seem to have that killer instinct so far. I expect one or two of the Illini shooters will get hot for a stretch and that will be that. UNC-Wilmington and GW going to extra frames, not surprising. Seems like all the 8-9 games go down to the end. Xavier up four over the Zags with less than four minutes left? Morrison and company have made a meal out of winning the close ones this year, but we aren't in the cozy confines of the Kennel anymore...Zags win out, of course. Did anyone else truly expect anything else? I know I sure didn't. Now it's time to see if the Falcons can give Ill a run for their money...

Ill 44-38 with 15:30 left: Washington comes out to watch a little bit. The UW fans' section - seated directly behind me - sees the team come out and acknowledges them with a nice ovation. The team sees them and waves. I talked briefly to one of the UW assistants, who are scouting the AFA-Ill game and ask them if Utah State is really WSU in different uniforms, and they said that sounds about right. We'll see how the purple and gold handles things early on. Wouldn't be surprised to see a start much like the Belmont-UCLA game. Belmont had an 18-12 lead at one point, but then the Bruins went to work...note to the UW coaches; when scouting Ill, please put a man on Jamar Smith. He has 12 points right now, four bombs.

Ill 62-47 with 8:27 left: All over now for AFA, the shots aren't falling and the Illini are having their way wherever they want to go. The Huskies head back into the locker room, to another ovation from the UW fans that have made it down to SD. Ill is very athletic and very dangerous. If UW is lucky enough to advance, the second-round game is going to be one for the ages. While the team was up in the stands, the occasional fan would come down to get Brandon Roy's autograph, which he was more than happy to give. Once the team left, the UW band took their place. AFA's band played a White Stripes tune earlier in the half. Wasn't expecting that...

Ill over AFA 74-62 with 2:08 left: Stick a fork in the Falcons, they are history. Smith has been deadly from deep. A steal and a big skywalking one-hand jam and now it's a 14-point lead. I go back in to get some more iced tea, and the Huskies are stretching and warming up in the hall. "One game left!" says one of the security ladies by the door. "Let's make it a fast one guys!" Couldn't have said it better myself. Win the thing and get out of Dodge for the night, a perfect scenario. Too bad I don't really think it's going to be that easy.

Game over; Ill wins 78-69: AFA never went away, but they could never come closer than one point in the second half. Weird technical foul by Dee Brown with over a minute left and his team comfortably ahead. Not sure what was up with that. Ill leaves the court and UW is ready to move onto the court. The band greets them. Soon after, USU cruises in from the other sideline. I'd say there are roughly three hundred solid Aggie faithful, but if they keep things close I expect a lot of 'new' USU fans to crop up in favor of the underdog.

When it's all said and done, the Huskies and Aggies will tip off at roughly 8 p.m., not too shabby at all considering the circumstances. Nice job NCAA. In the other three games going on to round out Day One, Indiana up on SDSU, Duke by three over Southern and TAMU up by nine over Syracuse. Take that Mitch Levy!

9:35 before tip: Some teams have stayed out the whole time before the game starts, some have decided to go back in their locker rooms for a quick meeting before their game starts. Washington chooses the latter, and are warmly greeted by the UW fans as they head back in. USU stays about 90 seconds longer and then does the same. And since when did the cheer squad for UW consist of four women and five dudes? Abominable ratio...

4 minutes to tip: SDSU just took the lead over Indiana, which comes as pleasant news to a lot of fans still here. Both teams come out and have to criss-cross at half-court...interesting way that worked. I expect the Illini fans want USU to win...my question is, for the AFA fans still here, who are they going to be rooting for? Romar comes out, as the band plays Dawg Pack tonight by giving him the 'Ro-mar!' greeting. His wife and daughters are in the first row of the UW section.

Tipoff: Roy guarding Pak, Jones guarding Harris. Should be a good one right out of the gate. Jensen wins the tip and we're off...

18:02/1: Roy gets the Dawgs up with an early bucket. Solid on defense, haven't allowed a point. USU is trying to leak guys out on the break, but Jones isn't having it. UW 2-0. Washington is doing a lot of switching, especially along the baseline.

16:13/1: USU still hasn't scored. Williams and Appleby in. The Aggies are throwing the ball away. Williams takes a charge against Harris, his first foul. UW still 2-0.

15:51/1: Under-16 TO. In the huddle, Romar is really animated. His jestures indicate that he really wants the ball to be pushed forward as quickly as possible.

15:29/1: Williams puts up an airball his first time out, followed by a foul on Roy. But the Aggies are having a devil of a time on their own offensive end. Roy bricks a reverse after getting stuffed the possession before. The Aggies get on the board on a Harris layin, and the USU faithful erupt. Mike Jensen's first three attempt skids off the side of the backboard. Very skittish play by both teams right now, as Jensen and Dentmon take a seat.

13:10/1: Williams makes his second shot, a baby hook, but fouls on the other end. Aggies take their first lead on an 'and-one' by Chaz Spicer. USU 5-4.

11:36/1: Fueled by Dentmon and Williams, The Huskies go on a quick 5-0 run. UW 9-5 at the under-12 TO.

10:53/1: Williams draws his second charge and then goes solo on the other end for two and then buries a jumper off a Roy assist. UW 13-7. Stew Morrill from USU immediately calls timeout.

9:01/1: Roy with one of his patented up-and-under moves, but picks up his second on an offensive foul the next trip up. He needs to really make sure he plays within himself. UW is smothering USU on their defensive end. Nearly 12 minutes gone in the first half and the Aggies haven't come close to sniffing double-digits. UW 17-7.

7:41/1: Jaycee Carroll is by far USU's most dangerous weapon offensively so far. Nate Harris? Invisible. David Pak? A ghost right now. UW's pressure is making them force plays. UW hasn't played super on their own end, but they are keeping the pace up when they can. The Aggies are very content to stick to a half-court game.

6:12/1: Carroll's outside game isn't working, but he takes it strong to the hole on Appleby. As soon as that happens, Romar immediately puts Jones back in the game. UW 17-13. Dentmon gets fouled on a shot, but no call. Jones does get an offensive rebound, and also gets fouled. The Aggies went zone for one possession, then Morrill had them go back into their man defense.

4:46/1: Jones is playing his butt off on defense, forcing USU turnovers. Roy is starting to assert himself on the offensive end. Appleby checks back into the game after two BRoy free throws. Harris catches Appleby napping for a lay-in plus-one. UW 19-16.

4:00/1: Roy salvages a rough UW possession by making a long three from straightaway. When UW is iffy on their threes, they really seem to struggle, and right now Jensen, Jones and Appleby couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. But Brandon is shooting it well. Those other guys need to keep shooting, to keep some semblence of offensive balance. UW 22-16.

2:50/1: Jones keeps shooting the three, and this time he hits. To get another shooter into the mix will be huge for the Huskies. UW 27-18.

1:48/1: USU goes zone after a Harris make, and that seems to befuddle UW a little bit. Roy jacks up a three with his guy in the air, but the ref doesn't call the contact. Williams gets the board and the putback. USU is really crashing the offensive glass now, something Harris is effective at. UW 29-18.

:51.2/1: Romar calls a quick 30-second TO after USU turns the ball over again. This is a chance for UW to take a double-digit lead into halftime, a big psychological hump to overcome for the Aggies if that happened. This might just be the best half of defensive basketball UW has played so far this year. Williams tries to do it all on his own, but Pak undercuts him and forces a jump ball, possession to USU.

:2.0/1: Jones almost makes a half-court shot as the buzzer sounds. UW 29-20.

Halftime: Romar made the right pre-game adjustments on USU. Jones guarding Pak has worked really well, Pak has no points and only one shot. No points for their center, Matheus. So far it's been the Carroll and Harris show, as I'm sure UW expected it would be. The Aggies have just cleaned up on the glass, as Harris already has a double-double; 11 points and 11 boards. USU is out-boarding UW so far 20-12. Williams leads the Huskies with 12, followed by Roy with 11. Each team is relying on two scorers. We'll see if that changes the second half. USU 0-6 from beyond the arc and they committed 14 turnovers to Washington's three. That's the difference in the game so far.

18:29/2: Pak probably got an earful in the locker room, so he immediately comes out and scores. Carroll does too, but they are answered by a Dentmon three. UW 34-24.

17:20/2: Jones makes his second three in a row, but USU comes back. Roy's three misses, but Jensen skies in for a rebound and dunk. The tempo of the game is picking up, and that has to favor UW. Appleby and Williams come back in the game, using their normal substitution patterns. UW 39-28.

15:49/2: USU brings the score back within double-digits, but then Matheus gets called for coming over the back of Jensen. Both teams are doing a good job of getting defensive rebounds, so that the offense is almost always one-and-done. UW 39-30.

15:13/2: Appleby needs to start making a difference in the game, and he goes right to work, penetrating and dishing to Williams for a bucket and-one. Carroll answers with a long three. UW 42-33.

14:24/2: Roy cheats up on a pass, but recovers and gets the next one, but it's thwarted when Williams travels. Roy comes up with a big three to bump things back up to 10. UW 45-35.

13:00/2: Dentmon comes in from behind on an USU rebound, strips it and the ball comes back to Jones, who buries a three. UW comes up with another USU turnover, and Roy takes it to the hole for two more, forcing Morrill to call a TO. UW 50-37.

The crowd is living and dying by the reports on the big screen and they let out a big gasp when it was posted that Indiana had taken an 85-83 lead with just seconds remaining. For a lot of the people in Cox, that game is probably more important to them than the one they are watching. When play comes back to USU-UW, a lot of the crowd starts booing.

11:42/2: It's the under-12 TO, so they bring back the scoreboard. As soon as Indiana goes up 87-83, the SDSU faithful can read the writing on the wall. I had the Aztecs advancing, so one more pick bites the dust.

10:50/2: Appleby hits his first three and UW nation lets go a big sigh of relief. He didn't leave it in Seattle. UW 53-39.

10:07/2: USU is screening UW to death up top, so the Huskies have to do a lot of switching. Matheus gets past Brockman and dunks it, prompting Romar to call a timeout. UW 53-44.

8:57/2: UW is starting to settle for long-range shots. Williams gets a good look deep, but can't connect on the bunny. USU has their chances to cut into Washington's lead, but they keep turning it over. We'll see if UW has the instinct tonight to put this one away.

7:43/2: Appleby is just not making it happen tonight, certainly not for a lack of effort. USU can come back, but they keep sabotaging themselves. Illinois has to be watching both these teams and licking their chops. Outside of the rooting sections for the two teams playing, Cox Arena is quite sparse right now. UW 53-46.

7:23/2: Roy the Provider provides a key bucket out of the UW timeout. Carroll comes back on the other end with a running curler. Dentmon puts another three on the board. UW 58-48.

6:03/2: The refs are starting to call some very interesting fouls. Roy got a phantom call against him a few trips back, and now Jones gets called for doing nothing but trying to get back on the offensive end of the court. USU scores on a layin and-one. Romar calls time as the Utah State fans get on their feet. UW 58-51.

5:02/2: UW needs a bucket, and guess who they go to? You guessed it. And of course, Roy delivers. Spicer has come on of late for the Aggies to give them a little more punch, but Roy buries a three to give Washington an 11-point lead. Harris catches UW in a switch and makes a layin over Dentmon, and Morrill immediately calls timeout. UW 63-55.

3:40/2: Jensen comes up big for three as Roy dives and dishes. Carroll comes right back with one of his own for USU. Give the Aggies credit. They aren't going anywhere. But Roy won't be deterred, putting down another trey with a USU guy in his face. Aggies go down low for Matheus against Jensen. UW 69-60.

1:59/2: USU forces UW into a rare passing error and comes back downcourt. Morrill calls timeout. Looks like the five of Roy, Williams, Jones, Dentmon and Jensen will finish the game for the Huskies. UW 69-60.

1:43/2: Washington plays tough defense and forces a long, long three from Pak that doesn't catch iron. Possession UW. Romar calls TO. Less than two minutes left and both teams have scored exactly 40 points in the half. UW 69-60.

1:37/2: USU goes into hack-a-shaq. Problem is, they've only committed three team fouls the whole half. Appleby comes in for Williams, a smart move for free-throw shooting purposes. The Aggies have to foul four times before UW goes to the line. Appleby misses the front end. A USU three misses, and Roy corrals the rebound. Dentmon is fouled. Appleby goes out and Williams goes back in. Justin is dollar bills, sinking both his chances. UW 71-60.

49.5 seconds/2: Dentmon gets on a breakaway and feeds to Jensen for a left-hand slam. USU misses, Jones gets fouled and Romar starts to clear the bench. Burmeister, Gasser, Wallace and Smith all come in. Jones makes his two and goes to the bench with BRoy amid huge applause from the purple and gold faithful. The band starts up an acappela version of the fight song. UW 75-61.

Game Over: UW wins 75-61. Fans for both teams stood up for the last four minutes of the game, good on both of them. The difference in the game? USU's turnovers and Brandon Roy. Roy is truly a special talent, a go-to guy in every sense of the word. He goes for 28 points tonight, all of them big ones. Williams adds 15, with Dentmon and Jones chipping in 11 apiece. The Huskies were out-rebounded 33-22, and the assist battle was tied at 13. But USU had a big discrepancy in the turnover department, 19-6. Overall, UW jacked up 28 threes, making 12. USU was 3-13 from the arc.

The team gets a huge greeting as they head to their dressing room. Romar acknowledges the UW crowd with a raised fist. He sure had a determined look on his face.

Dawgman.com Top Stories