Head Swimming and Diving Coach Andy Johns gives his take on the NCAA Basketball Tournament and upcoming Final Four this weekend. Johns recently completed his 15th season at the helm of the program, leading the program to a third-place finish at the WAC Championships last month.
I love March. My birthday is in March, Spring Break, the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, St Patrick's Day and the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The Big Dance. The Show. March Madness.
I'm a big fan of college basketball. But the tournament is awesome, baby! Upsets and underdogs are what really make it so exciting. We've yet to see a 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed; but I can't wait until it happens. And I think that what makes the first two rounds even more exciting is the sheer volume of games - 40 games over about a 40 hour period. That's a lot of basketball. By the time this past weekend came around, there were only 12 games in the same time period. I'm already feelings the signs of withdrawal with, what, only two games on Saturday and one game on Monday left in the entire college basketball season? Do you realize that less than one week from now, we're going to have to wait until sometime in October for some Midnight Madness somewhere in the Midwest? Are you kidding me?
It seems that this year is no exception to the Madness. Everyone is talking about officiating. I think we have such an advantage over the refs who have to make split-second calls, and most of the time they get it right, where as we sit in our living rooms and TiVo it and super-slow mo it and then we're still not sure what the right call is. But it's interesting that for all the fans and media experts who say "let 'em play, let the players decide the game, oh, that should have been a no-call in that situation", they were all very quick to agree with officials and say "a foul is a foul" and you officiate and play the whole game the same way".
Brad Stevens, the young stud of a coach at Butler, was certainly letting the ref know he disagreed with his call that put the Pitt player at the line with 2.2 seconds to go. And then .8 seconds later he was telling the same ref what a great call he made. (You can guess what former NAU assistant Jamie Dixon thought of each call, too).
Upon further review, it was pretty clear both calls had been correct - and both times the players did decide the outcome of the game while the referees called the games as they should. I think what we all wanted, in that moment, and what I think no one really ever mentioned, was to just be able to watch 5 more minutes of basketball. OT! A little free basketball for everyone. And let it be settled by the players with good officiating, of course!
VCU and Butler have both made it to the Final Four. Wow! Nice April Fool's joke! I got the VCU Rams over the Kentucky Wildcats for the National Championship.
See you on deck,
Coach Andy Johns