Crumpacker: Recapping the Men's Quarters
Super Saturday did not disappoint
By John Crumpacker, #WCChoops Columnist
While the Tom Hanks character in the movie “A League of Their Own’’ famously said, “There’s no crying in baseball,’’ the same is not true in basketball. There’s plenty of crying in the roundball game with roiling emotions related to tough losses at the end of the season as well as external forces beyond anyone’s control.
San Diego has had plenty of that last item ever since the end of the regular season, when the visiting Toreros beat San Francisco 64-61 on Feb. 24. Hours later, coach Lamont Smith was arrested and charged for an incident that took place early Sunday morning. USD officials suspended him indefinitely and announced he would not be coaching in the West Coast Conference Tournament.
That job fell to his assistant, Sam Scholl, who was named acting head coach. Scholl acted like a coach who had been through an emotional wringer for the last week or so. Eyes reddened, wiping away tears, Scholl said he was proud of his players for rallying around each other and then rallying to erase a 17-point deficit in the second half of their quarterfinal game against BYU to tie the score 71-71 with 3:26 to play.
“It’s been an emotional week, sorry,’’ Scholl said after taking some time to compose himself. “We were not going to use last week as an excuse. If we lost, they beat us. We showed our resolve … the way we all worked through this together through a difficult time. All our emotion is because of them, what they fought through this week, how they trusted us (coaches). They locked arms.’’
It was doubly tough on guard Olin Carter III, who was dealing with the recent death of his grandmother, with whom he was close.
“We’re definitely tough as a team,’’ he said. “The adversity we had helped us come through. The relationships we made with our teammates is the greatest thing to come out of this. We fought until the end. That’s all you can ask for.’’
What We Learned (from the quarterfinals)
- Talent will out. All due credit to Loyola Marymount for standing up to Gonzaga for 30 minutes, even holding small leads in both halves, but once the Zags put the hammer down, it was over. In short order in the last five minutes, a Killian Tillie 3-pointer, a Johnathan Williams dunk and a Zach Norvell Jr. 3-pointer and the lead was up to 74-59. Done and done. “The last 10 minutes we were playing harder and more aggressively,’’ Tillie said. “We got some open shots. In the first 30 minutes we were not playing well.’’
- BYU has an edge. In the first half of its game with San Diego, BYU’s Yoeli Childs stood about an inch from Torero Yauhen Massalski and jawed with him. Said Childs afterward, “Nobody’s going to back down. It’s important to settle down. If I’m getting into it with a guy, my teammates are going to pull me back. We have to use emotion in the right way.’’
- San Francisco’s coaching staff employs modern statistical modeling to determine the best lineup for games. In a 71-70 overtime thriller against Pacific, guards Jordan Ratinho and Frankie Ferrari played 43 and 41 minutes, respectively, while sometimes scintillating freshman Souley Boum was on the court for just seven minutes. “We’re pretty heavy on the analytics for certain matchups and situations,’’ Dons coach Kyle Smith said. “Your team can go a lot of different ways. This time of year, your players have to invest in what you’re doing.’’
- About the only thing to be said about No. 2 Saint Mary’s avoiding a massive upset at the hands of No. 10 Pepperdine, 69-66, is that the Gaels were just good enough, not lucky, when it counted. If not for Calvin (Headband) Hermanson nailing a trio of 3-point shots in a span of less than two minutes, starting at 3:26 to go, the Waves, improbably, might be playing BYU in a Monday night semifinal. But his teammates got him the ball at the same spot on the right wing and Hermanson buried them all, turning a 62-59 deficit into a 68-64 lead. “The game wasn’t going our way tonight,’’ Hermanson said. “We stayed together. This was a prime example of weathering the storm.’’
Stat line of the day
In his team’s 85-79 quarterfinal victory over San Diego, BYU’s Elijah Bryant scored 27 points in 26 minutes on 10-of-13 shooting, 3 of 4 from 3-point range, to go with 4 rebounds and 2 steals before fouling out.
Runner-up went to Saint Mary’s Jock Landale, who, despite being double-teamed, had 17 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal.
Quote of the day
“You scored 27 points in 26 minutes? It’s kind of crazy. Ten of 13, 3 of 4. The man was a beast out there. I love watching him. I swear he was looking like LeBron (James) attacking the rim, finishing. I am so proud of my guy. Sometimes I feel like I’m a fan watching him.’
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The final word
With Pepperdine officials deciding last month to terminate the contract of Marty Wilson, this was his final game as head coach of the Waves, a game in which his team gave him everything it had in an injury-ravaged 6-26 season.
“I have nothing but good thoughts,’’ said Wilson, finishing his seventh and last season in Malibu. “It comes down to winning. Looking back, we did a lot of good things in seven years. I’m a Pepperdine guy. We’re all connected. We’re going to be connected forever through Pepperdine.
“I’m changing addresses but I’m still a Pepperdine guy. My whole family is. We have four degrees from Pepperdine. In terms of what comes next, I don’t know. I’d like to stay in coaching if I can.’’
As for what his coach meant to him, forward Kameron Edwards said, “He’s a caring man. He cares about each and every one of us. He was tough on us. At the same time, he was like a father figure to some of us. That’s something I really appreciate.’’
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.