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Georgetown’s seniors leave with only 1 NCAA win
Chris Wright and Austin Freeman stared straight ahead, hurt and sadness etched across their faces.
Their Georgetown careers are over, far earlier than they wanted or most would have expected. And no matter what they accomplished, there will always be those who say it wasn't enough.
"Four years goes fast and they've given a lot and worked their behinds off," coach John Thompson III said. "A lot will be said about what this group did or didn't do in their four years in the postseason. But they've given a lot to this school and I just want to thank them."
Since going to the Final Four in 2007, Georgetown has won only one NCAA tournament game since then. With a 74-56 loss to VCU in the second round Friday night, the Hoyas were victims of an early upset for a second straight year.
The Hoyas (21-11) lost to 13th-seeded Ohio in the first round last year.
"We did what we can to try to up this program. We did the best we can when we were here," Freeman said. "That's it, plain and simple."
After struggling early in the Big East season, Georgetown found its groove again with an eight-game winning streak that included victories at both Villanova and Syracuse. But Wright broke his non-shooting hand in the second half against Cincinnati on Feb. 23, and the Hoyas collapsed.
They lost four straight as their offense stalled without Wright. Despite his return Friday, they were clearly a flawed team. Wright, Freeman and Jason Clark combined for just 25 points on 10-of-35 shooting. Georgetown committed 17 turnovers, compared with just six for the Rams.
Georgetown fell behind with 7:49 left in the first half and never led again.
"Right now, my thoughts are with the four seniors who, for the last time, were able to wear a Georgetown jersey," Thompson said. "And that hurts."
REF RETURNS: Jim Burr, one of the officials who withdrew from the Big East tournament after missing key late-game calls, was on the crew for the Arizona-Memphis game on Friday.
The game came down to the final 5 seconds, when Derrick Williams blocked a putback try by Memphis' Wesley Witherspoon to seal Arizona's 77-75 victory.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner hadn't seen a replay, but his first impression was that the final sequence was officiated correctly.
"I thought actually Jim Burr reffed a good game. I have no problems with Jim Burr," Pastner said. "I thought the crew was good. ... I had no problems with Jim Burr reffing our game, and the bottom line is Arizona hit some shots late and they deserved to win."
Burr has worked 16 Final Fours and seven national championship games. But in the closing 1.7 seconds of a 65-63 win by St. John's over Rutgers, he and his crew failed to notice when a player traveled and stepped out of bounds. The Big East admitted the errors and the crew pulled out of the tournament.
This time, the situation wasn't so clear-cut.
"Honestly, with a second or two left on the shot clock, most refs don't call that type of foul, especially when you're trying to make a hard play on the ball," Williams said.
"Earlier in the game they might have called it a foul just because he did fall on the ground. But late in the game, most refs don't call that. That's why I went up so hard to try to block it and save the game."
RECORD WATCH: Pac-10 player of the year Derrick Williams seems on the verge of breaking an unlikely record.
Williams hit his only attempt Friday against Memphis, improving his season 3-point shooting percentage to 61 percent. If that holds up through the Wildcats' tournament run, the 6-foot-8 forward will eclipse Steve Kerr's school record of 57 percent set in 1987-88. That's also the NCAA mark for players who have made at least 100 3-pointers in a season.
Williams is 36 for 59 this season _ not enough to qualify even for the NCAA's lower benchmark of 50 3-pointers made in a season. Glenn Tropf of Holy Cross holds that record at 63 percent, also in 1987-88.
"It would be the greatest upset in NCAA history if Derrick breaks Steve Kerr's record, and I say that only because Derrick is such a gamer," coach Sean Miller said. "If we got in the gym and those two guys shot it out, I'd put all money on Steve Kerr. But in the game _ and Derrick hit a big one here tonight _ the bigger the moment, he's such a gamer."
Kerr also holds Arizona's career record at 57 percent and went on to set the NBA's career mark at 45.4 percent.
COMING UP BIG: It was roughly this time a year ago when Duke's big men started playing up to their size and became key reasons why the Blue Devils won the national championship.
If their tournament opener was any indication, it might be happening again.
Miles Plumlee had 13 rebounds, nine on the defensive end. Little brother Mason Plumlee added five rebounds, made five of his seven shots and scored 12 points. Both were forces inside early against Hampton _ Duke led by double figures before the outmanned Pirates managed their first rebound. The Blue Devils went on to establish a 38-29 rebounding edge in their 87-45 win.
"We're not just playing up and down. We're playing laterally," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And when you have big guys being able to play laterally, you're going to be a better basketball team, and they've done a good job of that."
COACHING PREDIGREE: When UCLA's Ben Howland stepped into an NCAA tournament meeting earlier this week, it hit him: There are some coaching legends in Tampa, Fla.
Kentucky's John Calipari, Florida's Billy Donovan and West Virginia's Bob Huggins are in Tampa. Michigan State's Tom Izzo was here, too.
Howland was taken back by the talent surrounding him.
"Everybody that gets to this level is a good coach. But you look at Huggins, you look at Izzo, you look at Billy obviously, you look at Calipari, I mean, unbelievable success these guys have had," Howland said. "All those guys will undoubtedly be Hall of Fame coaches. Huggins is incredible what he's done, and he started really young as a head coach. I think he's in his 28th year as a head coach. He got his first job when he was in his late 20s. Billy was really young, too. I mean, these guys are all Hall of Fame coaches. It's pretty incredible."
LIGHT(S) MOMENT: After a series of serious questions and responses during Friday's media session, Wisconsin players were hit with a bout of giggles.
Someone walking through the media room tripped over a light stand in the back, turning a row of lights away from the table where the players were sitting and darkening the room.
After a few quick snickers, point guard Jordan Taylor and forward Jon Leuer couldn't hold back, turning away several times to giggle away from the microphone.
As they walked away, the moderator of the session got them laughing again.
"Watch your step over there," he said. "We seem to be having a problem with that."
The players were still laughing when their coach showed up for his portion of the interviews.
"That's a tough act to follow with what just happened here," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "I only heard bits and pieces."
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