- 68,000 more file for unemployment — in one week
- Michigan bans in-state insurers from covering abortion
- Nancy Pelosi tells Democrats to pass budget: ‘Embrace the suck’
- Key Obamacare official: Last two months much harder than anyone hoped
- Sen. Mike Lee: We must stop ‘the prez’ from acting like the queen
- George Bush consoles Alabama kicker Cade Foster: You will be stronger
- Megachurch pastor with ties to Obama commits suicide
- WaPo to readers: Send us your ‘gun violence’ stories for Sandy Hook anniversary
- U.S. threatens Ukraine with sanctions over dispatch of riot police
- Canada doing away with door-to-door mail delivery by 2018
Indiana befuddled by Syracuse’s 2-3 zone
Question of the Day
The end looked like a double line of reporters and cameramen shifting from side to side in the white cinder block hallway leading to Indiana University’s locker room.
Long after midnight Friday at the Verizon Center, the line snaked past red and white striped warm-up pants piled in a corner next to idle managers. A bowl of oranges, apples and bananas had no customers. Meals in blue boxes stamped with Georgetown’s logo sat untouched on a table.
And, finally, the stuffy, still room where the other side of March unfolded.
There’s no easy way for a season to end, as top-seed Indiana’s did minutes earlier in the 61-50 loss to No. 4 Syracuse in the NCAA tournament’s East Regional semifinal.
The means of exit, however, seemed especially painful for Indiana. The powerful offense that ranked among the country’s top-10 teams in points, field goal percentage and 3-point shooting crumpled against Syracuse’s fluid, adaptive 2-3 zone defense.
The defense is as much a part of Syracuse basketball as Otto the Orange, the mascot who vaguely resembles fruit of the same name. There wasn’t any surprise, much as Indiana appeared befuddled by the long-armed, trapping scheme that left the Hoosiers’ undersized guards ineffective. Indiana finished with more turnovers (19) than field goals (16) and didn’t hit its first 3-pointer, one of the best ways to undo a determined zone, until 1:27 remained in the first half.
“You can’t prepare for how tall and long they are,” senior Jordan Walls said.
He assumed the preferred posture in a defeated locker room: elbows resting on knees, hands clasped, stare directed at the blue carpet.
Eleven television cameras worked through the room in search of questions about silver linings and good memories and the program’s revival under Tom Crean.
The coach, though, had few answers, as if the zone’s reach extended beyond the reach of 40 minutes on the court.
“Let’s face the facts,” Crean said, “we haven’t seen a zone like that all season.”
The detritus of defeat littered the room: two empty Rice Krispies Treats wrappers, a half-eaten banana in an empty locker, the Indiana carpet mat in the middle of the room trampled by enough reporters to violate any fire code.
Voices stayed low. Hands stayed clasped. Eye contact disappeared. A camera clicked.
“That’s what they pride themselves on,” sophomore Cody Zeller said of the zone. “They’re long and athletic and they force a lot of turnovers. That’s what they do.”
Mock NBA drafts projected the rail-thin center as a lottery pick in June. But Syracuse muscled and pushed and trapped him out of the contest. He didn’t have any more answers than the rest.
That’s March’s pain. An early-morning search for an explanation that won’t come, digesting the end in an unfamiliar city, an unfamiliar locker room at the end of a long hallway.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- FENNO: Honestly, Mike Shanahan, why should we believe you now?
- Robert Griffin III surprised at being benched by Mike Shanahan
- FENNO: High schooler Chris Cotillo balances MLB scoops, Spanish homework
- Turmoil now a major part of Redskins' game plan
- Mike Shanahan says he'd like to return to Redskins
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgment in Heller II
- KIBBE: Another Republican budget surrender
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- Inside the Ring: China targets Global Hawk drone
- Creator of 'Selfies at Funerals' blog retires after Obama flub: 'Our work here is done'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Headlines from Associated Press and around the Internet
Positive propaganda for a nation in peril.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow