Fairleigh Dickinson shocks No. 1 seed Purdue
I have a question for both of them college and NBA basketball fans: When was the last time a team won anything with a low-post big man as their No. 1 pick? Purdue’s Zach Edey will take home a treasure trove of hardware, and he’ll be in luck at his residence to make sure no one steals the trophies from his doorstep. The Boilermakers became just the second No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and congratulations to Fairleigh Dickinson.
If you thought upstarts couldn’t get any more eccentric, let me introduce you to the Knights of Teaneck, New Jersey. Coach Tobin Anderson called his shot the day before the game, and the rotation without a center hustled, frustrated and harassed Purdue all night. The Boilermakers’ inability to break away showed that the game would end up being a clutch game.
Forward Sean Moore made said play, winning a three with just over a minute left to put the Knights up. five point advantage. The final 60-plus ticks were agonizing for both fans before Fairleigh Dickinson sealed the win with a pair of free throws to end the scoring. 63-58.
This March has been unlike any other, as it is the first time that the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds have both lost in the opening round. Arizona, whose big men failed both post-feeds and iso touches, fell to Princeton on Thursday, and if its console is still intact, I have a few personal items I’d like to bless.
So congratulations to Fairleigh Dickinson for the win and the Grade upsety Dick as the entity most likely to recall a dick joke my editors will cut.
AG/O Media may receive a commission
Don’t believe in the return of the big man until a non-unicorn big wins something
Despite the hype of Nikola Jokić and Joel Embiid, he hasn’t been here yet NBA Finals. You could talk to me about Drew Timme’s importance to Gonzaga when the Bulldogs play Baylor for the title in 2021. Still, it was the last team to finish atop the heap in March with a true low-post big man. The player of the tournament was North Carolina’s Sean May or UConn’s Emeka Okafor in 2005 and 2004, respectively. Kentucky won with Anthony Davis in 2012, but has regressed against the center throughout his pro career.
In the NBA, you have to go back to 2005 or 2006. It was Tim Duncan finals MVP in 2005, and 2006 was the first Heat-Mavericks final. Dwyane Wade won Finals MVP, but Shaquille O’Neal was still such a force that the offense revolved around being a threat around the hoop.
We’ve gotten to the point in basketball as a sport where centers can’t just be limited to paint skills. If a big can’t roam the floor, handle the ball or make plays, he’s reduced to blocking shots and catching shots.
Embiid is the closest thing to an old-school franchise center in the NBA, and the jury is out on whether he can be the focal point of the defending champions. Jokić is furious, but the progression is so advanced that to label him as a center is an insult. Be that as it may, Jamal Murray’s easiest postseason success came with 1A in crunch time.
The experts cGiannis Antetokuonmpo has been described as a modern-day Shaq, but that’s not fair. A Greek freak is a unicorn in the true sense of the word, which is not simply a large man with guarding powers, but a large man who moves like a guard.
Shaq was one of those, but even he had great moves for such a man. That’s why I’m not sure O’Neal can be played off the field in any era. He usually forced the change. We haven’t seen such low-gravity force since Duncan, and I don’t think we ever will again.
Not only is basketball an over-skilled sport for single-digit big men, it’s ridiculous to rely on another position to feed you the ball. Each of Edey’s inbounds passes was picked off by two or three defenders, and although he finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, Purdue’s approach was outdated.
Why am I saying this? I find that I remember things better when I write them down, so the next time I make a big announcement (or fill out a bracket), I’ll think twice about rooting for a team whose offense depends on a big man.