The Washington Times-Herald

The "Z" Watch

March 28, 2013

Top four seeds left in East Region

INDIANAPOLIS — Yelps of support and echoing applause greeted the voice booming over the loudspeakers Wednesday at the scheduled start of practice for the East Regional's fourth seed: "Coached by Jim Boeheim, please welcome the Syracuse Orange!"

And ... nothing. No sign of Boeheim or any of his players. Not until 6½ minutes later did they finally make their way onto the court they'll return to Thursday night to face No. 1 seed Indiana in the NCAA tournament's round of 16.

Syracuse never really did show up the last time it played a game at this arena: The Orange lost their Big East regular-season finale three weeks ago against host Georgetown 61-39, their fewest points since December 1962 and fourth loss in five games.

"I can't remember that game," Boeheim deadpanned Wednesday, face straight and arms crossed. "Just can't remember."

Maybe so. But since that disappointing performance, Syracuse (28-9) has gone on a run, winning five of its last six games to reach the Big East tournament final and join Indiana (29-6), No. 2 Miami and No. 3 Marquette to form the only group of 1-4 seeds left in any NCAA region this year.

It's only the 15th time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 - and first since 2009 - that the four highest seeded teams advanced to the regional semifinals, according to STATS LLC.

"That probably is a little surprising," Indiana freshman guard Yogi Ferrell said. "It shows that we are all high-level programs, and all great teams, and we know how to win."

No Florida Gulf Coasts in this crowd, that's for sure. This is a collection of college basketball's big boys, with two teams from the Big East, and one each from the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference. Three of the four have won the national title at least once, including Syracuse in 2003.

That championship, Boeheim said, allowed him to finally move past his team's loss to Indiana in the 1987 final - aka "The Keith Smart Game" - the last time these two schools met in men's basketball.

"When you lose a game like that, you really almost never get over it," Boeheim said. "I got over it in 2003. I probably thought about it for those (16) years, most of the time. I never think about it anymore."

Syracuse will confront Indiana on Thursday with its 2-3 zone, typically tough for teams that aren't used to seeing that sort of system.

As Indiana coach Tom Crean put it: "The challenge never ceases."

"No one plays a 2-3 zone the whole 40 minutes. We've never seen that before," said Ferrell, whose 146 assists (a 4.2 average) are the second-most in history by an Indiana freshman, trailing only Isiah Thomas' 159 in 1979-80.

"You may think that a pass is there, and it's not there the next second. You may throw it and get a turnover," Ferrell said. "Visually it's going to be very tough to find those openings, but if we move well, we'll be OK."

Indiana - which got a visit Thursday from Crean's brother-in-law, Super Bowl champion coach John Harbaugh of the up-the-road Baltimore Ravens - was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll and spent more weeks at the top spot than anyone else in 2012-13.

The Hoosiers were led in scoring (16.7) and rebounding (8.0) by sophomore forward Cody Zeller. It's junior guard Victor Oladipo, however, who is the contender for national player of the year honors.

Oladipo averaged 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds this season, was the Big Ten's defensive player of the year and hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to lift Indiana past Temple last weekend.

Oladipo knows this week's NCAA regional site well, having played at the arena while in high school at D.C.-area power DeMatha.

"I'm going to have a lot of family and friends here, but at the same time, it's a business trip. We're here to be successful," he said.

"Yeah, I won (on this court) in the past," Oladipo added. "But that has nothing to do with the future and the present."

Boeheim probably feels the same way - about Thursday's site and opponent.

 

1
Text Only
The "Z" Watch
  • Bobcats coach Clifford needs heart procedure

    November 8, 2013

  • Bobcats beat Cavs in first Zeller vs. Zeller matchup

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Kemba Walker admits there's always a little extra incentive when he goes up against Kyrie Irving.

    November 2, 2013

  • Bobcats thrilled with rookie Cody Zeller's play

    Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he needs rookie Cody Zeller to play well in order for his team to improve.
    At the same time Clifford wants the 7-footer to ease into his pro career and not feel the weight of expectations of a player picked fourth overall in last summer's NBA draft out of Indiana.

    October 7, 2013

  • Zeller-less Indiana holds annual Hoosier Hysteria

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Amid all the smoke and music, Indiana put aside the excitement of a new basketball season to look back one more time at a year of achievement.

    October 5, 2013

  • Bobcats coach Clifford says rebounding a concern

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said despite adding two big men to the roster this offseason, rebounding remains his biggest concern as the team prepares to open training camp Tuesday in Asheville, N.C.

    September 30, 2013

  • Bobcats feel they're headed in right direction

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Rod Higgins believes the Charlotte Bobcats are a team on the rise.

    September 25, 2013

  • Bobcats' Zeller says he can be perimeter threat

    Cody Zeller has confidence he can be a perimeter threat as well as a low-post presence for the Charlotte Bobcats.

    But he might need a quick refresher course on his jump shot first.

    June 28, 2013

  • Wolves work out ex-Indiana center Cody Zeller

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are evaluating former Indiana center Cody Zeller, among their prospects for the NBA draft.
    Zeller worked out for Wolves officials Wednesday, one of several big men who showed their skills on the team's practice court.

    June 13, 2013

  • Zeller headshot.jpg Tyler Zeller among 27 invited to USA Basketball summer minicamp

    San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, enjoying a strong NBA Finals, and Washington's Tyler Zeller are two of 27 young players scheduled to attend USA Basketball's minicamp in July.

    June 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • IU still working towards sixth banner

    Monday night in Atlanta, Louisville won the school’s first National Championship since the year I was born - 1986. This accomplishment is significant to Indiana basketball fans, because the last two times the Cardinals cut down the nets (1980, 1986), the Hoosiers did it the following year. The stat, of course means nothing, other than both schools had strong programs in the 1980s.

    April 11, 2013