County coaches weigh in on men’s Final Four
Boys basketball coaches, including Player of theYear, offer their picks
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.”