Commission’s 60 Page Report Is One Step In The Right Direction

The biggest takeaways from Wednesday morning’s meeting in Indianapolis–Clean up the sport or suffer some very dire consequences

Led by former Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, the independent 12 member Commission came up with several bold measures to clean up men’s college basketball as we know it.

From articles that I read both on the Associated Press webpage and what Seth Davis reported on The Athletic website, there were a few takeaways on what will be done in the short term and long term.

They include these dramatic recommendations:

  1. In an attempt to rid the sport of “failed accountability” (remember that college football is run entirely different), the Commission recommended that the NCAA should have more involvement with players while in high school and less involvement with enforcement of those rules.   But as NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert mentioned after the meeting that “pay for play” will not be the model, nor it ever was the right thing to do.
  2. The “one and done” rule adopted in 2006 by the NBA will hopefully be revised.  However, if the NBA and NBPA refuse to change their rules for next basketball season, it would plan on reconvening and consider other options for the NCAA, such as going back to the late 1960’s when Lew Alcidor was ineligible to play as a freshmen or maybe locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient decides to leave school after a single year of playing.  The 12 member Commission is going to try and take a page out of the baseball model by  recommending that basketball players be allowed to test the professional market while in high school or after the college season is completed, while still maintaining their college eligibility.  If the player declares for the NBA Draft but is undrafted in late June, that college player would remain eligible as long as he requests an evaluation from the NBA and returns to that same school.  But similar to when we see some players leaving college entirely for professional careers after one year, the rules would not totally compel them to do so on that front.
  3. The current rule of enforcement needs to change big time.  According to the report, they hope to adopt more steeper penalties which include a five-year postseason ban coupled with the loss of postseason revenue sharing for Level I violations.  It would also allow lifetime bans against individuals given show-case orders and yearlong bans on visits for any recruiting violations.On the topic regarding “individual accountability,” such as requiring contracts for athletics officials to include cooperation with investigations and allow for NCAA discipline up to termination for violations.  Meanwhile, annual “due diligence” reports will be mandatory for college presidents, athletics directors and coaches to certify that they were conducted and properly followed through to a “T”–albeit not easy and very subjective.  In the case of last fall involving the University of North Carolina, they were found scot-free of any academic fraud because the Commission determined that by-laws made the institutions set up their own rules in determining how to conduct their coursework.
  4. The role of agents is not going to change in general, but the way they do business hopefully will change.
  5. The NCAA, with support from the NBA and USA Basketball, should have their own recruiting sessions during the summer, while taking on a more serious approach to certifying events they have no control over.

    The NCAA should require greater transparency of all finances of what it called ‘non-scholastic basketball events’.  Coaches will be banned from attending sycg events that do not comply with more stringent vetting, according to the report.  If enacted, this particular ban could wipe out AAU events that were once a diamond gem in discovering future talent every summer.

  6. The biggest statement from the report is that the Commission is calling for greater financial transparency from all apparel and shoe companies.  The ‘Big Three’ of Nike, Under Armour and Adidas have very extensive financial relationships with several dozen colleges and coaches are getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars.  At the same time, Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case.The commission also called out all university presidents, saying administrators on all levels can’t be allowed to turn any blind eye to infractions.

    To that end, the commission mentioned that all university presidents should be required to “certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and that their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules.”

    Easier said than done.The commission also recommended that the NCAA Board of Governors, currently comprised of 16 university presidents and chancellors add five members from the public giving them full voting privileges who are not currently employed as university leaders on campus.

  7.  

    The final points the Commission stated in the report called out any and all schools and individuals within college sports who are using the NCAA as a scapegoat for the problems in basketball, they basically have told all universities and individuals that they will be held accountable for keeping the game and the sport as clean as possible.

     

     

     

    “When those institutions and those responsible for leading them short-circuit rules, ethics and norms in order to achieve on-court success, they alone are responsible.  Too often, these individuals hide behind the NCAA when they are the ones most responsible for the degraded state of intercollegiate athletics, in general, and college basketball in particular.”

Bottom line is, bold change is coming.  This was a landmark day in the history of the NCAA.  Once Condaleeza Rice delivered her public remarks, she along with the 12 Commission members went behind closed doors with members of the NCAA’s Board of Governors and Board of Directors.

What’s next, you wonder?  They are all scheduled to have a discussion on all of the Commission’s proposals, but voting will not take place until later on in the summer–hopefully sometime in August.  Emmert has said numerous times to the media that he hopes a new package of legislation will be voted on during the summer and could be implemented before the start of the 2018-19 college basketball season in November.

Some of these recommendations may take years to be fully implemented, but I am so glad that change is coming.  No longer we will see the NCAA move at an archaic pace.  As long as we the public know what is going on with the shoe companies dealings and how the coaches try their best in recruiting quality talent to shape their rosters–and at the same time, try to keep the universities staying afloat financially speaking, these will be interesting times to monitor.

To access the full report, please click or tap or the link below:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4445900-Commission-on-College-Basketball-Report-and.html

 

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The Curious Times of Darius Bazley

Passes Up on Syracuse So He Could Suit Up For the G League

At 6’7″, Darius Bazley was a McDonald’s All-American from Cincinnati with tremendous talent.  His skill set was what some media analysts termed as simply, “off the charts.”

He was expected to be a big time star for the Syracuse Orange next fall.  Instead, he will be taking his talents to the NBA’s G League (formerly the D League, for those of you not too familiar with the NBA’s version of the minor leagues).

Veteran Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim seemed puzzled earlier this month when asked about why Bazley spurned the Orange.  He even went on the Golic and Wingo ESPN Radio morning show on April 3 to say that, “He is a great kid.”

According to an article by Phil Taylor of The Athletic, Boeheim has pretty much pigeonholed Bazley with very little wiggle worm to maneuver if his game falters or falls into a trap some NBA players feel when they first enter the league:

“I mean just look at Trae Young for example.  He can be playing in Idaho someplace this year riding the bus.  This whole thing about, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s get them in the G League.’  Have you ever been to the G League?  Have you gone to a G League game?  You ever lived where those guys live?  They’re adults.  23, 24-year-old guys.  Now you’re going to be 17-year-old guys there?  You’ve got to be crazy.”

Yes, I get it with the outrageous costs of tuition, room and board, and in some cases for college students–money for rent has spiraled out of control in our nation’s apartments.

Beginning with Kevin Garnett in 1995, the number of high school seniors declaring for the NBA Draft grew by leaps and bounds.  According to a North Carolina-Greensboro research paper, the report mentioned that in 2002–ten juniors, three sophomores, and one freshman were all first round picks.

Since then, an average of six to nine freshman get picked in the first round.

You can learn more about the report at this link below:

http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Groothuis_Peter_2007_Early_Entry_in_the_NBA_Draft.pdf

If the NCAA begins to finally change their long standing archaic way of thinking, they should start giving money in the form of a stipend to prospective athletes.  I agree with what Seth Davis mentioned many times in several articles, both for The Athletic and prior to that when he wrote articles for Sports Illustrated, that the college system as we know it is broken.

Sure, the coaches are getting paid millions and millions of dollars.  Plus, shoe companies are working hand over foot, day and night trying to outfit the teams and have their own marketable identity.  And if the NCAA continues to not give students enough money for participating in athletics, then they are left with nothing to do but holding up an empty paper bag.

Presuming Darius Bazley lights up the G League whichever team is fortunate enough to have him next fall, will he be remembered as a trailblazer of a different sort?  Or, maybe just maybe, it could be a true watershed moment for both the NCAA and NBA in general.

One thing is perfectly clear, at least in the mind of this blog reporter–the overall quality of play in both the college and pro game has gone way down.  Compared to the mostly team concepts stemming throughout most of the 1980’s when players stayed at least three years in college, this one and done rules has clearly not helped either in college or pro basketball.  Fans of their favorite schools need new programs every year to keep track of the revolving door of players in the likes of true blue bloods of Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and many other Division I schools across the country.  All 30 NBA teams try their best to teach the players the really hard knocks in life as a professional and all of the many distractions that come with the territory–seeing scores of gorgeous women on the road, social media interaction, media interactions, and the temptations in trying to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

G League fans, get ready for some possible fun times ahead.  We will see what Darius Bazley will do with his budding professional future.  And if it turns out his one year in the G League was great, only time will tell if he appears at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.

But for the time being, we have that big meeting on April 25 headed up by Condaleeza Rice as college basketball tries to right itself from the FBI scandal–with the recent news that Kansas and North Carolina State have gotten themselves in possible illegal water over a few players themselves.

I will try to make sense of what I read online and what I hear on both radio and podcasts.  My next blog at the end of the month will try to sort out the mess from that meeting and try to present what the NCAA is planning to run what hopefully will be a clean sport for the next 80 years and beyond.

 

Documentary Worth Checking Out

Recently, I checked Twitter and found a link to a documentary from 1983, which was posted by Jim Keavney.  Lem Tucker was a CBS News investigative reporter and in January 1983, he helped expose the cattle like world that is the big business behind men’s college basketball.

Former longtime Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps was interviewed, along with Seth Greenberg and Villanova head coach, the late Rollie Massamino.

Notice also what then Boston University Head Coach Rick Pitino was saying at a famous basketball camp in Pittsburgh that previous summer.  How different those thoughts were those many years ago.

The more the players names change, the more the general rules stay the same, even after all of these many years later:

 

Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson Declare for NBA Draft

Two vital cogs for Villanova’s championship run end on high note

In separate announcements, Mikal Bridges on Tuesday and Jalen Brunson on Wednesday morning have decided to forgo their remaining time in college and pursue playing in the NBA.

It was definitely a logical decision for Brunson, two time Player of the Year in the Big East and last week added the prestigious John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s Player of the Year.  Plus, he managed to get his degree in three years.  So, he definitely is on the right track.

Also, Sacha Killeya-Jones has decided to transfer after not getting adequate playing time for John Calipari at Kentucky.

At least, the news was good for one Big Ten school.  Both ESPN.com and NBCSports.com reported on Tuesday afternoon that guard Ryan Taylor will be enrolling at the school as a graduate transfer.  This means the 6’6″ wing who averaged 21.3 points this past season as a redshirt junior with Evansville will be eligible to play next fall.  Taylor spent his freshman year playing at Ohio University before transferring to Evansville.  This is great news in the fact that both Bryant MacIntosh and Scottie Lindsay graduating, this will give fans of “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” something to cheer about when the team finally moves back to their renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena in November.

Jalen Brunson Wins John R. Wooden Award As 2018 Player of the Year

Two-time Champion Also Won Bob Cousy Award for Best Point Guard

During the 42nd Annual College Basketball Player of the Year Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Friday night, there was only one other player that won both a national championship and the Wooden Award for Player of the Year–and that was Anthony Davis of Kentucky in 2012.

After looking over these statistics of Villanova’s first ever Wooden Award winner in Jalen Brunson, it was no contest:

                                                    2017-2018 Season                    Three Year Career

Games                                        40                                               116

Points                                         18.9 per game                          14.4 per game

Total Rebounds                        3.1                                               2.5

Field Goal Percentage             52.1                                            51.0

Free Throw Percentage          80.2                                            82.0

When asked by ESPN’s Rece Davis, he deflected the individual focus and instead said that his “focus was on the team.”  Brunson beat out some very talented players in senior De’Vonte Graham of Kansas, freshmen Marvin Bagley III from Duke, Deandrea Ayton of Arizona, and part-time General Hospital actor, Trae Young of Oklahoma.

Brunson’s coach, Jay Wright was the 2018 recipient of the Coach of the Year Award.  He still felt like he was “walking on air” since the city of Philadelphia threw a parade for the National Champions on Thursday through Center City.

The rest of the All-American team, which was announced on Wednesday included Keita Bates-Diop from Ohio State, Trevon Bluiett from Xavier, Mikal Bridges (winner of the Julius Erving Small Forward) of Villanova, Miles Bridges from Michigan State, and Jevon Carter from West Virginia.

The other men’s winners included some very worthy student-athletes.

Jerry West Award for Shooting Guard:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Averaged 18 points per game, shot 40 percent from three-point range.  Very heady player, who neatly fit into the mold of what Coach Matt Painter personified as a leader both on and off the court.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for Center:

Angel Delgado, Seton Hall

Leading rebounder in Big East Conference history.  He was simply a monster for two months plus.  Whenever his team needed help, Delgado was always there.  The level of play grew at least several notches whenever he made impact plays which kept the Pirates in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Karl Monroe Award for Power Forward:

Deandre Ayton, Arizona

Even though he had to sit one game due to what was going on with the FBI investigation at that time, he still lead the Pac 12 in rebounding.  Seth Greenberg brought up this cool stat that Ayton is one of five players in the last 25 years to achieve at least 24 double-doubles for an entire season.

There was also a women’s winner as well.

Considering the plethora of talent that the ladies displayed–right up to some incredible last second shots which propelled Notre Dame to unseat both Connecticut and everyone else’s favorite team in Mississippi State to capture South Bend’s first women’s title since 2001, the ladies stepped up their individual games in a big way.

The 2018 winner was A’ja Wilson from South Carolina, who averaged 22.6 ppg and 11.8 rebounds per game.  Wilson also had 105 blocks on the season and was the 2017 Women’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

The other women’s finalists were junior Asia Durr from Louisville, Oregon sophomore Sabrina Ionsecu, UConn senior Gabby Williams and UConn junior Katie Lou Samuelson.

Congratulations to all of the winners, very well deserved individuals who are joining a very select group of past recipients that were honored in years past.

The next time I plan to blog will be on Monday, which I hope will be the first of hopefully some interesting commentaries about the current state of the sport–and what you might expect in a little over 210 days when the new season begins on November 6 with the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

I will be talking about Darius Bazley, who spurned Syracuse to decide on playing in the G League instead of enrolling in college.  Bazley might be blazing a trail for certain players who are thinking very hard about the tempting world of trying to make it to the NBA.

With the simple fact that only the first round picks get guaranteed contracts and the second round draftees do not–there is no level playing field.  As head coaches have begun again in scouring the nation for that next “diamond in the rough”, Syracuse is one of over a few dozen schools looking not just only to rebuild, but reload with quality talent whenever and wherever they can.

Hopefully, when you read my next blog–you might figure that the college game is definitely changing faster than the ever changing stock market.

Please enjoy the rest of your weekend, as I will (finally) look forward to recharging my batteries so-to speak after posting several late night blogs since November.

Take care, everyone.  I will try my best to keep you loyal fans informed and in the know during this lengthy off-season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Shaky Start, Villanova Cruises To Second Title in Three Years

Simply A Dominant Run By An Amazing Group of Young Men

The 80th NCAA Championship game appeared on paper to be a mismatch, unless Michigan hit a bunch of threes to keep up with the torrid outside shooting from what Villanova did on Saturday night against Kansas.

Michigan surprised everyone by going inside early and often.  Mo Wagner hit his first four shots including one straight on three, good enough to register 11 points in the first five mintues.  Even Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman got into the act, nailing a trey of his own off a nice feed from Jon Teske to give the Wolverines a brief six point lead at 14-8.

Villanova’s first triple came at the 7:16 mark, as Sixth Man of the Year in the Big East Donte DiVincenzo went off hitting three treys as part of a game high 18 points.  In fact, he nearly equaled the overall team output when the rest of the team scored 19 during that time.

Villanova closed the first half on a 23-7 run in the last 11 minutes to grab a 37-28 halftime lead.  Villanova was 24-1 entering this title game when holding the lead after the game’s first 20 minutes.

The second half was mostly more of the same, as the Wildcats became the first school since North Carolina in 2005 to lead the nation in scoring and win the national championship by a final score of 79-62 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.  Villanova joined Duke (1991 and 1992), Kentucky (1996 and 1998), and Florida (2006 and 2007) to win two championships in a three year span since expansion of the Tournament in 1985.

Donte DiVincezno etched his name forever in championship game lore in winning the 2018 Most Outstanding Player Award.  He tied Glen Rice when he led Michigan to its’ last title in 1989 with a game high 31 points on 10 of 15 shooting (5 of 7 from three) and 6 of 10 from the free-throw line.

It was not one of Villanova’s better outside shooting efforts overall, going 10 for 27 on the game.  Michigan was far worse, going only 3 for 23 at a disappointing 13 percent.

Overall–Villanova was 27 for 57 for 47.4 percent, while Michigan was 24 of 55 for 43.6 percent.  Free throws also played a small difference as well, with Villanova going 15 of 20 (a cool 75 percent), but Big Blue Nation was only 11 of 18 for 61.1 percent.  Rebounding was all Villanova by a 38-27 margin, doubling Michigan 12-6 on the offensive end.

Besides DiVincenzo’s individual heroics as set a title game record for the most points scored by a bench player, Mikal Bridges was the only other Villanova player to finish in double figures with 19 points.

Villanova became the third team in NCAA history to win all of their tournament games each in double figures. The others were the 1957 San Francisco Dons, led by Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell, and in 1967 with UCLA led by the then named Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar).

For Michigan, the loss nearly equaled the 72-52 beatdown by Duke in the 1992 championship game (their runner-up finish that year later vacated) held at the former Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They were led in scoring by senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting and going 5 of 6 from the free throw line.  Mo Wagner had 11 in the first half, but only had five in the second half to finish with 16.  The biggest letdown came by Charles Matthews, who had only six points on the night before fouling out with 3:21 left in the season.

As a school, Michigan joins rather ignominious company with Kansas and Duke having lost six championship games all time.

What A Crazy, Strange Trip It Was Plus A Special Thank You To Many of My Loyal Blog Fans

With the season mired deep in controversy with the FBI getting involved in the underground shoe scandal and the first ever past national championship banner to be taken down thanks to a major sex scandal that rocked Louisville, there was so much parity during the 2017-2018 season.

And the craziest moment of the tournament, let alone the entire season easily brought to my mind a paragraph that I typed in a blog post earlier in the decade on whether in our lifetimes a 16 seed would actually beat a 1.

It did finally happen, on the evening of Friday, March 16, 2018 at the Charlotte pod when the Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers did what veteran play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz exclaimed as “the shocker of all shockers” creamed the overall top seed in the Virginia Cavaliers.

Even after the buzzer beaters by Jalen Poole from Michigan, along with Donte Ingram and Clayton Custer from Loyola of Chicago, there was one individual who had a moment which was both unique and exquisite wrapped in one neat package.

The most fun moment, how can you not love Sister Jean?  Some radio disk jockey in Knoxville at WKGN AM tweeted something mean about her, and even Jalen Rose’s 100 year old grandmother was getting into some nasty trash talk on Instagram.

But in the end–everything about her was pure, sweet, loving, caring, and true to her very last word.  A campus treasure at Loyola University in Chicago for over 27 years, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt became a viral and international sensation everywhere she went.  From Dallas to Atlanta and finally in San Antonio–if there was an Ultimate Fan Award, she would have won it hands down.

And everything else that we have experienced during these last three weeks underscore one very important thing–this tournament unites us as a country.  It brings millions of people together.  In a time where our nation, and practically our world is as divided as it has been in nearly 50 years–hopefully, the lessons we have learned from the guys that enjoyed playing for their school will resonate no matter what paths this complex game of life will lead into their next chapters in the professional world–NBA or other walks of life for that matter.

Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright can sometimes be self deprecating at times when you hear him speak.  By the time all of the blue and white confetti was sprayed all over the Alamodome floor prior to the 32nd airing of One Shining Moment–he joined the likes of John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Mike Kryzyewski, Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Bob Knight, Jim Calhoun, and Billy Donovan to win at least two national championships.

And the scariest part of all–some of the key cogs will be returning next November.  Just fyi–the Champions Classic takes place in Indianapolis Tuesday, November 6.

Clearly, the Big East is back.  That is how I am going to remember this crazy 2017-2018 season.

Thank you to all of my loyal readers for enjoying my blogs all season long.

In closing, I have a special note for those of you who might be reading on their smartphones in the City of Brotherly Love:

Please party smart.  This is not the time to be burning cars or climbing light poles.

Do the right thing and execute lots of common sense, especially if lots of alcohol is involved.  Similar to the improbable run by the Eagles in toppling the dynasty of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, I can only imagine many people on the Villanova campus may not get a lot of sleep in time for Tuesday morning classes.  For that reason and that reason alone, I completely understand.

Bottom line is that Villanova again is a deserving champion who played the game right and executed their offense and defense on college basketball’s biggest stage.

I will have one final short blog planned for you this coming Friday night, when ESPN proudly presents the annual Players of the Year Awards.  It always is a fun show, but the next time I hope to be talking about the games people play will be seven months from now.

In the meantime, I hope some of you can become crossover fans at my other blog:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/

During Final Four week, I had fun with the word river in the title of a few jazz albums.  And later this month, I am planning something very nice for a special singer/songwriter who calls Oregon home–who besides showing us some really neat cooking videos on YouTube also enjoys simple, quiet walks in nature as to “recharge” those batteries inside so-to speak.

As for what that very special thing is, you will have to read some of my blogs there going back to January 2017 to peel back the virtual onions on this really cool story.  The best part about this story, this woman’s dream came to fruition the following October.

What To Expect From Yours Truly Online During the Long Off-Season

As far as what my plans are in this blog during the off-season, I hope to chime in at least periodically (no less than two to three times per month) with coaching news, any major rule changes affecting the sport, and any other key information that might be worth blogging about–shoe scandal or otherwise.

Thank you to all for reading, and listening to my podcasts on Soundcloud.  I hope that everyone has a safe, enjoyable, and hopefully profitable summer.  I had lots of fun, and I hope you enjoyed every line that I had the pleasure of typing and publishing for most of the world to see:).

See you again on Friday.  Otherwise, please take care and I hope that next Halloween is filled with lots of chilly, ghouly fun for you ghosts and hot goblins out there–MUWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Bye for now.

Notre Dame Wins Women’s Title On Three Point Buzzer Beater

Same player that stunned UConn in semifinals did it again on Sunday night

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter.

For Notre Dame, things were about as bleak as a Hail Mary pass gone awry with hurricane force winds.  They were down by as many as 15 points and only managed to score three points in the second quarter, a new NCAA Tournament record originally set by the Syracuse Lady Orange in 2016 against UConn when they scored eight points during that year’s tournament.

Trailing 30-17 at halftime, the Fighting Irish chipped away at the lead.  A 16-1 run capped the comeback, as a putback by Jessica Shepard tied the score at 41 entering the final quarter.

The game stayed close right up to the final minute.  What followed after that was what ESPN play-by-play announcer Adam Amin simply called a “wild” sequence.

With the game tied at 58, Mississippi State star Teaira McCowan missed on a layup with 27.8 seconds left.  Both teams ended up turning the ball over, but McCowan fouled out after stripping the ball from Marina Mabrey–who had just tied the game as part of a 5 point run in the final 1:58.  The foul occurred just inside half court with 3 seconds.  After Mississippi State called time out to set up their defense, Jackie Young inbounded the ball directly to junior Arike Ogunbowale.  She dribbled twice and sank the championship winning three pointer with 1/10 of a second left as Notre Dame won their second women’s national championship 61-58 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  It capped the longest drought since last winning it in 2001, defeating Indiana’s all-time leading scorer in high school Stephanie White and Purdue that year in St. Louis.

Both teams hit the same number of field goals, 22–but Mississippi State ended up taking seven more attempts.  The game winning three and Mabrey’s triple were the only Irish players to connect from behind the arc, having missed their first seven attempts from deep.  The rest of the statistics were relatively even.

What a storybook ending for Notre Dame, having four players suffer season ending ACL injuries.  As they often say in sport, what cannot be quantified on the scoreboard cannot be made up if you have belief in yourself and show lots of determination and heart on every play.  Clearly, the Fighting Irish were due and they managed to get it done when the chips were down.

And that, my online friends was no April Fool’s joke.  It was simply a miracle comeback orchestrated by an intelligent group of young women that simply wanted it more.  For the second straight season, Mississippi State did everything they were asked to do but win the season’s final game.  This loss will definitely sting a lot more than last year, that’s for sure.