Live blog: NCAA Tournament Day 2, Albany

Mar 17, 2023 - 5:17 PM
NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round Albany Practice
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Good afternoon from beautiful Albany New York, where I will be courtside for these games:

#12 VCU v #5 Saint Mary’s

#13 Iona v #4 UConn

#12 Drake v #5 Miami

#13 Kent State v #4 Indiana

Obviously, the game of interest for many of our readers will be the UConn/ Iona one, featuring a Big East squad and an Iona squad that people love for their consistent winning ways. And also their head coach, Rick Pitino, who has become a person of interest for the Red Storm fans.

Pitino, despite being at Iona, draws national attention. The media has gravitated to him and his assistants, hoping to hear him let something slip about his future. Meanwhile, UConn fans are demanding more from their coach, Dan Hurley (once also the object of St. John’s fan affections).

For my money, I’m interested in how Miami handles a key injury against a very experienced Drake basketball team. News, notes and reflections below.

3:40 left in the first half and St Mary's has done a really good job of finding effective offense against VCU. Mostly because of the offensive rebounds.... They're shooting one of 10 from outside the arc but 9/16 inside. VCU is hanging with them by doing much better at shooting the ball, they're at about 50%.

Halftime 29-28 Saint Mary’s on top of VCU at the half. 11 from VCU Rams’ Ace Baldwin, 10 from Saint Mary’s Gaels’ Mitch Saxen. It’s weird watching a live game with a TV feed of another game, but Xavier/ Kennesaw is pretty exciting.

5:00 left. Despite leading by less than 10, Saint Mary’s seems to have the rhythm of this game locked. VCU is reduced to jumpers, some from the midrange. Michell Saxen has really good hands in the post offensively, and has been an excellent defensive presence on the defensive end. The Gaels’ continued strong work on the glass - 11 of 26 possible offensive rebounds - is keeping them in control. They’re not sped up at all by VCU’s press.

63-51 final, Saint Mary’s moves on to face the winner of...

Iona/ UConn.

Expect some weird whistles, a lot of up and down action, and some violent collisions in the paint. Hurley (UConn) and Pitino (Iona) have a lot of fans in the press,

It is very much like a UConn home game complete with booing for the Iona players and coach.

U16 Nothing louder than when the hometown Andre Jackson throws down the dunk in transition for UConn. Huskies are up 14 to 11 on the Gaels, under 16. Iona looks game for this one, though.

Fun fact! Neither coach has won an NCAA game with their current team! (Gotta get there to lost in the first round, though, which is a step up from where #sjubb has been.)

U12 Iona is leaving gaps in transition, when the Husky ballhandler is on one side of the floor and the receiver runs the channel on the other side. UConn has been able to cut through the Gaels for shot opportunities. The Gaels also need to muck this game up a bit - it’s been too smooth for UConn.

U4 Andre Jackson is a 28% 3-pt shooter, and Iona is giving him room - guarding the drive vs the shot. Donovan Clingan is an absolute monster in this one defensively, and has 4 points and 6 rebounds. I cannot tell if Iona is running the Huskies to exhaustion, but they are certainly better when the pace is up and down, despite allowing the Huskies to get deep in the paint. 32-30, Iona Gaels lead Connecticut right now.

39-37 at the half, with Iona in the lead. UConn might be lucky to be that close, shooting 14/36 overall (39%) and 7/20 inside the arc. This is a really good game. UConn’s size has been an advantage, as well as the 3-point shot making, but Iona is dictating the tempo, fast, then slow, then fast. The Gaels are leaving what look like openings for the Huskies, and then disrupting shots near the basket. That takes quickness and energy... can they keep it up?

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!