Archive for the ‘Defense’ Category

Don’t you just love watching basketball teams with the intensity and defense that South Carolina, Oregon, Gonzaga, and North Carolina play with?  Those two attributes…and of course talent…explain why this four teams are in the NCAA Tournament final four.

Great article from the Wall Street Journal. 

South Carolina: The Angriest Team in College Basketball

Frank Martin, perhaps the game’s most hot-tempered coach, has finally found a team more fiery than he is—and the combination has fueled a Final Four run

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin reacts during the second half of the East Regional championship game against Florida.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin reacts during the second half of the East Regional championship game against Florida. Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

By  Andrew Beaton,The Wall Street Journal

Updated March 28, 2017 5:58 p.m.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin has earned a reputation as one of the angriest coaches in college basketball with a repertoire of gesticulations and outbursts that can turn his cheeks the color of his garnet jackets.

Now he has taken his No. 7 seed Gamecocks on a furious run to the Final Four—the first in school history. And this surprising run happened because Martin somehow found players who are even angrier than he is.

“If you’re not matching his intensity, you’re not going to be on the floor,” said freshman guard Tommy Corchiani. Adds sophomore guard Hassani Gravett: “That anger, that aggressiveness, that passion, that’s how we bring it.”

More on the NCAA Tournament

The simmering rage that fuels this year’s Gamecocks began last March when they were victims of one of the cruelest mistakes in recent memory. On Selection Sunday, they received word that they had made the school’s first NCAA tournament in more than a decade. Minutes later, there was an awkward twist: The message, sent from an NCAA staffer to South Carolina, was incorrect. The Gamecocks, in fact, had just missed the cut.

What has followed since then has been a team capable of channeling that fury into a style of play that has bewildered opponents all season. Last year’s gaffe may have been the best thing to ever happen to this season’s group. It may be why they’ve gone from first-four out to Final Four. And how more than any title contender in tournament history, they’re fueled by March Madness.

Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates in the second half against the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates in the second half against the Marquette Golden Eagles. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

South Carolina’s unbridled ferocity is most obvious when the other team has the ball. The Gamecocks play physically and push the limits of how much contact referees will let them get away with before calling a foul.

This style has produced one of the most impenetrable defenses in the country, a unit that ranks second nationally, according to and a vast improvement over a year ago. The only team that ranks better happens to be their opponent on Saturday: No. 1 Gonzaga.

But the thing about playing a team that thrives off aggression and indignation is that it tends to make opponents angry too. Except opponents have found that when they try to match the Gamecock’s passion, it comes out more like exasperation.

South Carolina Gamecocks guard Duane Notice dives after a loose ball against Florida.

South Carolina Gamecocks guard Duane Notice dives after a loose ball against Florida. Photo: Octavio Jones/Zuma Press

This too benefits South Carolina. Because when teams get frustrated, they foul. And no contender benefits from getting to the foul line more than the Gamecocks. They have scored 23% of their points from the foul line this season, and only one other NCAA tournament team (No. 16 seed New Orleans) averaged more.

And this is how South Carolina has engineered frenzied comebacks throughout this NCAA tournament. In three of their four games, so far, the Gamecocks have trailed at halftime. Then the fouls pile up during the second half and irrevocably change the balance.

“When it gets gritty,” junior Jarrell Holliman says, “that’s when teams wither away.”

In the Elite Eight, Florida fouled seven times in the first 5:09 of the second half—enough to put South Carolina in the bonus for the rest of the game. By the end of their second round comeback against No. 2 Duke, when the Gamecocks scored 23 points in the first half and then 65 in the second, the Blue Devils had racked up 26 fouls. Three of Duke’s five starters fouled out in what Mike Krzyzewski called “the most physical game we’ve been in all year.”

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin watches play against Florida.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin watches play against Florida. Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

This ability to completely unsettle opponents makes South Carolina the rare underdog that dictates the style of a game. It’s why, increasingly, calling this team an underdog is becoming a misnomer.

There are moments where the team’s intensity simply isn’t enough or can backfire—the Gamecocks, after all, lost 10 games this season. Because of their aggression, they also frequently send opponents to the foul line. No team that made the NCAA tournament yielded a higher percentage of its points on free throws. But the players say that’s a trade off they’re comfortable with because that same physicality is why their defense is so stingy the rest of the time.

This capacity for unrelenting anger on the court has put Martin in an unusual position: The coach who has always been defined to outsiders by his rabid enthusiasm on the sidelines now has to be the one soothing his players and keeping their emotions in check.

Sometimes, that means, yelling isn’t the best way to get a message across. Sophomore PJ Dozier says he knows Martin is most upset when the coach doesn’t yell or even say a word—instead, just following Dozier with his eyes as he takes a seat on the bench.

In other instances, it can mean a more light-hearted approach. During the regular season, when South Carolina dropped its second consecutive home game at one point in SEC play, Martin sensed his team was getting too worked up for its own good. So he took everyone bowling.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, second from left, reacts as guard PJ Dozier comes off the floor against Baylor.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, second from left, reacts as guard PJ Dozier comes off the floor against Baylor. Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Most recently, with 11 seconds left in the Elite Eight, after guard Duane Notice threw down a ferocious dunk to put South Carolina up seven, Martin again sensed his players’ emotions could turn unproductive. So even with a spot in the Final Four almost certainly clinched, he called a timeout to deliver a simple message. “He just wanted to settle us down,” said assistant coach Perry Clark.

Still, there’s no questioning Martin’s ability to get riled up—even about the smallest things. On the eve of South Carolina’s Elite Eight matchup, Martin grew visibly irritated as he went over the scouting report. But he wasn’t upset about something he saw from Florida on film.

“He didn’t have chocolate-chip cookies,” Clark explained.

Write to Andrew Beaton at

Appeared in the Mar. 29, 2017, print edition as ‘South Carolina’s Angry Birds.’

  1. He had a lot of choices to play after high school…He chose AVC

  2. He was a “academic freak” at AVC who studied his off taking University of California level classes!
  3. He had many offers for D-1 scholarships out of AVC…he chose a University known for its academics, not its basketball.
  4. He led his team at Davis on the defensive end during his two years and and as they say, “Defense leads to wins.”  Where UC Davis today?

White can’t wait for NCAA First Four game

By: Alex Vejar

A former player on the Antelope Valley College men’s basketball team will get his first taste of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament today.

Lawrence White, a senior guard on the UC Davis Aggies, will start for his team against the North Carolina Central Eagles in a First Four game to determine which team gets to face No. 1-seeded Kansas in the first round on Friday.

"There’s really no words," White said. "Just seeing our name up on that screen – that’s every kid’s dream, every (junior-college) transfer’s dream, every hooper’s dream. To see our name up on that board and get a chance to dance is unbelievable."

UC Davis made school history Saturday with its come-from-behind 50-47 win over UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament championship game. The Aggies edged Cal State Fullerton 66-64 in overtime the night before.

The very next afternoon, UC Davis found out that it would play NC Central in the tournament during the Selection Show television special.

"My heart was almost beating out of my chest," White said of how he felt when watching his team get its name drawn on the show.

While UC Davis will appear in its first-ever NCAA Tournament, Aggies head coach Jim Les has been there twice before – once as a player and once as a coach. Les told reporters in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday that his previous tournament experience could help his player prepare for what they would experience in the tournament.

"Really, I think my greater value to them is having been a player and all the things I’ve experienced just helping them deal with their mindset," Les said. "I tell them all the time there isn’t anything I didn’t experience from being a guy that came off the bench the last guy on the bench to being a starter to being the leading scorer to being the guy who scored the least."

The Aggies will face an Eagles team that won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship by beating their three opponents by an average of 23.6 points. But after watching film on UC Davis, Eagles head coach LeVelle Moton developed respect for the Aggies and their defense, which he said is a "spitting image" of NC Central’s defense.

"They’re really good, well-disciplined and well-coached," Moton said of UC Davis. "And we’re going to have to be on point."

White said defense will be key for UC Davis’ hopes for a victory today, and he feels "very confident" going into the game.

"I’m a little nervous, but more excited than anything, anxious," White said. "I want to play already, man. They got us out here waiting. I just wanna play."

White has started 33 of his 34 games played, and averaged 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game for the Aggies.

The Aggies play the Eagles at 3:40 p.m.

lawrence white 3


ANAHEIM, Calif. – Trailing 42-37 in Saturday’s championship game at the Big West Tournament, UC Davis scored nine unanswered points and held its lead for the rest of the game as the Aggies left the Honda Center as the league’s tournament champs and representative at the upcoming NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament thanks to their 50-47 victory over UC Irvine.

Following the Aggies’ tournament victory, Big West officials announced Brynton Lemar’s selection to the All-Tournament Team and Chima Moneke as the event’s Most Valuable Player.

UC Davis, the Big West Tournament’s No. 2 seed, will discover its next opponent once revealed by NCAA officials during Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. Selection Show, and enter that game with a 22-12 overall record. UC Irvine, the top seed at this weekend’s event at the Honda Center, will return to action at the National Invitation Tournament with a 21-14 record.

"I could not be more excited for this group of young men who have been a joy to coach, and have allowed [the coaching staff] to push and challenge them," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.

"We weren’t always pretty defensively, but our defense won these games. Defense is underrated and overlooked, but the players brought their hard hat with them for every game."

Thanks to their swarming defense, the Aggies entered halftime with a 24-16 lead, holding the Anteaters to the fewest points scored in any half, of any game played, this season.

Seven lead changes took place before UC Davis took the lead for good thanks to that late scoring burst. Lemar’s layup cut his team’s deficit to three; three free throws from Big West first team selections Lemar and Moneke pulled the Aggies even at 42-42 — the only tied score that took place in the second half.

Another layup and back-to-back free throws from Lemar pushed the Aggies’ lead to four with 1:30 remaining in the game, stunning Anteater supporters who comprised most of the 5,085 fans in attendance.
A deep three from Luke Nelson brought UC Irvine within one, with nine ticks remaining, but back-to-back shots from the stripe from Lemar brought UC Davis’ advantage back to three at 50-47, the game’s final score.

Moneke ended his first Big West tournament with nine points at seven rebounds, Lawrence White posted six points and in addition to shutting down UCI’s post players all night long, J.T. Adenrele grabbed four rebounds.

Siler Schneider led all Aggie reserves with seven points, Mikey Henn scored two points, in addition to collecting four rebounds, Garrison Goode ended his night with six boards and Arell Hennings scored four points and earned a team-high three assists.

"Last night’s overtime game took a lot out of us," said Les, "after that battle, I was not sure what we were going to have in the tank today. But we, as a staff, went to our bench and said `you guys need to buy us some minutes, come in, play with confidence, and do it on the defensive end.

"They made hustle plays and gave us unbelievable life; they let us rest our starters who played heavy minutes last night so they could make that stretch run in the second half."

Added Les, "big credit for this championship goes to those bench players who really stepped up."

For the latest information regarding UC Davis’ upcoming NCAA Tournament run, follow the team on its Twitter handle, @UCDavisMBB.

Northridge 108 Long Beach 98

It was a very interesting evening last night.  Headed over to CS Northridge University to see their game against my alma mater CS Long Beach.  The game was very competitive but Northridge was just too athletic, big and skilled for Long Beach.  Its going to be very difficult for Long Beach to be competitive with a 5’6” and 5’9” back court. So hard to defend against the typical bigger players in D-1.

Most interestingly to me was the lack of defensive intensity by either team.  Over 200 points score in that game.  Finally, just a thought for JUCO fans and JUCO player;  Go in person to D-1 games periodically.  You need to be reminded how BIG and athletic these players are. 

Only one major upset last night in JUCO Basketball; 


AVC’s next game is Saturday, 5 p.m. at home against Barstow.  Barstow is a very talented team with I believe eight very skilled foreign players and a local D-1 quality player.  Tough team.  They gave AVC everything they wanted when they played them at Barstow.  Be there. 

Antelope Valley College in its search for the rotations that “clicks” with the completely new team, has been experimenting with three point guards. Based on matchups and styles of opponents, all three PG’s have found some success.  This weekend, Charles “Scooter” Hall, 6’1, 190 Sophomore, led the team to a 2-1 record and Consolation Championship. 

Hall is a very experienced sophomore who is a solid shooter but is a “pass first” PG as his 5.5 assists per game and 11 points per game this weekend showed.  “Scooter” biggest improvements in the early season has been his intensity and team defense.  Charles will improve more and more as the rotations continue to gel for AVC.

At the end of the day, there will be one JUCO team in Southern California that is undefeated.  The current undefeated teams in SoCal are San Bernardino Valley and East Los Angeles who will playing against each other today at San Bernardino Valley.  Who will win??? No guess but it is a home game for San Bernardino.  Looking back to last year, it was an accomplishment for AVC to go 13-0 before they were defeated.  Going even further back having Fullerton under head coach Dieter Horton go undefeated for a complete season.  Unbelievable!

The AVC team was hoping to play in the championship game today but after their loss in the first game, the next choice was to play in the consolation championship game against Riverside College.  They got their wish.  Riverside was shocked in the first game against West Los Angeles and only has one loss for the season.  One of Riverside’s wins was against AVC 86-75 at the Ventura tournament.  This should be a interesting re-match. 

Final thoughts;  AVC will win a lot games this year if they continue to play like they did yesterday;  6 players in double figures, intense defense, at complete team effort and a full game of concentration.  Today could tell us whether this tournament is a turning point in AVC’s season.

Antelope Valley College headed to the Ventura Tournament this past weekend feeling good about its chances.  They had been the champion of that tournament five straight years and on paper and in the pre-season state poll #11 , they looked like they should continue that run.  It certainly didn’t turn out that way.


AVC lost 2 of 3 games to unranked(Coaches Pre-Season Poll) teams and came home with a stunned look in their eyes. 


The AVC coaching staff must have  done some soul searching yesterday and I am looking forward to seeing their approach to pulling this team together.  There is no question that AVC has outstanding physical talent this year.  This tournament made it clear that AVC has much work to be done this year to be successful;

  1. Defense
  2. Teamwork
  3. Offensive rotations. 

That about covers it all doesn’t it?  I am looking forward to practice this week to see how the coaches and team implement needed changes.  They will not have a lot of time as AVC will be taking on #2 state ranked Saddleback College on Saturday, November 12, 2016, 5 P.M. at AVC