County coaches weigh in on men’s Fi­nal Four

Boys bas­ket­ball coaches, in­clud­ing Player of theYear, of­fer their picks

The Covington News - - Sports - By Ja­son Mur­dock

You’ve heard from all the ex­perts. And you’ve al­ready alien­ated your­self from the rest of your fam­ily af­ter watch­ing too much ESPN and CBS re­gard­ing the men’s Fi­nal Four.

Who cares if your bracket is al­ready busted? Af­ter all, it’s March Mad­ness — well, April Mad­ness — which means that we are one day away from de­cid­ing who will be com­pet­ing in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game Mon­day.

And for the first time since seed­ing be­gan in 1979, there are four No. 1 seeds to choose from — Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Mem­phis.

Here are some thoughts from the Al­covy, East­side and New­ton High boys bas­ket­ball head coaches, in­clud­ing The Cov­ing­ton News 2007-2008 Al­lCounty Player of the Year, as to who ex­actly will be cut­ting down the nets:

Eu­gene Brown, Al­covy

“First of allmy­bracket was de­stroyed when Clem­son lost. I thought they had all the com­po­nents to get to the Fi­nal Four. But of the four teams that are left, I orig­i­nally picked UCLA but now I’m lean­ing to­ward Mem­phis. I wasn’t too strong on them early in the sea­son, ( es­pe­cially) af­ter they lost to Ten­nessee, but they seem to have worked on the things they were hav­ing trou­ble with. That fresh­man point guard (Der­rick Rose) is just play­ing out­stand­ing. They’re very ath­letic, and if they can make free throws they can put up points.

“I think North Carolina is a lit­tle bit ahead of Kansas right now,” Brown said. “Roy Wil­liams is go­ing back to play against Kansas, but I think Roy has pre­pared his team very well. They just have a bet­ter scheme of what they’re try­ing to get done, and are go­ing to force Kansas to play their type of game.

“At that point I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to have to go with UNC over Mem­phis,” he added.

Rick Ras­mussen, New­ton

“In my NCAA tour­na­ment pool of 11 peo­ple, mainly New­ton coaches, three picked North Carolina, but sur­pris­ingly seven picked UCLA to win it all. In­ter­est­ing that UCLA got that many picks, even though we are on the East Coast. I picked UCLA, too, but I am not sure that UNC doesn’t look like the safer bet now.

“My dark horse this year was Wash­ing­ton State Univer­sity, my alma mater, and I was glad to see them get fur­ther than last year by get­ting to the Sweet 16. I didn’t feel bad about WSU los-

ing to UNC in the Sweet 16, as the over­all tal­ent dif­fer­ence was too much for the Cougars to han­dle, but I love the way the Cougars play.

“I’d like to see UCLA win it all, es­pe­cially since this its third straight trip to the Fi­nal Four, which hasn’t hap­pened since John Wooden “the Wizard of West­wood” was there,” Ras­mussen said. “I think they de­serve it the most as a pro­gram. Mem­phis is play­ing well, too, but I see UCLA beat­ing them in a close one.

“On the other side, UNC looks aw­fully good and will prob­a­bly beat Kansas,” he said. “I think UNC has won it enough, like in 2005, so I’d like to see some­one else win it. I met UCLA’s Kevin Love at the Nai­smith’s Awards in At­lanta last year, so I am root­ing for him and UCLA to win it all.”

Michael Ger­ald, East­side

“Well, I’ve been pick­ing North Carolina from the very be­gin­ning, but in or­der for them to be suc­cess­ful they have to play great de­fense. They know what kind of speed they like to play at, and I think Kansas likes play­ing at that fast pace, so they’re al­most mir­ror images of each other. An­other key will be how much Kansas is able to con­trol Hans­brough and the other kids inside.”

“I think you’ve got good play­ers on both teams,” Ger­ald said re­gard­ing the UCLA/ Mem­phis matchup, “and those play­ers who are sup­posed to make plays have to make those plays. If they’re able to do that and get the most stops in the game and still be able to score, that team will prob­a­bly win the game.

“ Ob­vi­ously, ( Mem­phis) changed their mind­set but it’s still go­ing to come down to free throws when it’s all said and done,” Ger­ald said. “I think they’re just ath­letic all the way around. They can shoot the bas­ket­ball, and if they can make some out­side shots they’ll have a chance to beat UCLA. Then again, if UCLA plays the way they’re ca­pa­ble of play­ing then UCLA could prob­a­bly pull it off.”

Wor­rel Cla­har, 2007-2008 Al­lCounty Player of the Year

“ I think Mem­phis might win it. I know Mem­phis has great guard play, and ev­ery other team has been shaky dur­ing the last cou­ple of games, win­ning by close mar­gins. To me, ( Rose) is most im­por­tant on the team be­cause he has to con­trol ev­ery­thing and get ev­ery­thing done. I’m not re­ally too much of a North Carolina fan, so I think Kansas may win that one. Kansas is deep. They have (guard) Sher­ron Collins, but I don’t think he’s ready for Der­rick Rose.”





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