Seen and heard at Madison Square Garden
Miss it, pleeeeze
Poor Jimmie Taylor.
After Alabama and Drexel improbably stretched themselves into a third overtime period Friday, delaying the UA’s game with Duke by almost an hour, the Duke and Arizona fans that made up the vast majority of the Madison Square Garden crowd grew increasingly impatient.
So by the time Taylor, an Alabama freshman, went to the free-throw line for two shots with Drexel up by two with four seconds left, there was a hush in the crowd.
Then relief. Taylor missed the first shot, and there was a huge roar from both Arizona and Duke fans because they knew their game would finally be starting soon.
Alabama coach Anthony Grant brushed off the odd circumstance.
Afterward, he was asked about his interaction with Taylor, considering that the fans seemed to be interested not in the game but the fact that it was ending.
“Our main concern is our guys …so anything else we really don’t pay attention,” Grant said. “Obviously this was a great learning experience for him and we’ll treat it as such. … there was a lot of pressure to go to the line in that situation.”
We’ll take it
Then again, what the fans were doing wasn’t always obvious if you were on the floor. Drexel’s Chris Fouch was asked what he thought of the cheers.
“Man, I don’t know why they picked us to cheer for,” he said. “But I was enjoying it.”
No doubt one of Sean Miller’s career highlights at Arizona so far was beating Duke in the 2011 Sweet Sixteen.
But not just because it was Duke.
“It was because it gave us a chance to play for the Final Four,” Miller said before Friday’s game. “It was no different than this past year if we had beaten Ohio State, it would have meant a lot because we’d be playing Wichita State with a chance to make the Final Four.
“I respect Duke tremendously. There’s nothing that you wouldn’t want to respect from them. At the same time, (there’s) a chance to compete against the best and kind of measure who we are. So that’s it more than anything.”
According to Draft Express’ mock 2014 NBA draft, there were five first-round picks playing in Friday’s game.
Draft Express has Duke’s Jabari Parker going third in the June draft, while Arizona’s Aaron Gordon is listed sixth. Then there’s Duke wing Rodney Hood at No. 14 and guard Rasheed Suliamon in the 30th and final first-round spot.
Draft Express also lists UA center Kaleb Tarczewski as the No. 30 pick in the 2015 draft, after what would be Tarczewski’s junior season.
UA guard Nick Johnson is listed as a second-round pick in 2015, too.
Gamblers liked the Wildcats
Las Vegas bettors apparently liked Arizona a lot entering Friday’s game.
Duke opened as a 1.5-point favorite, according to the books listed by VegasInsider.com, but betting pressure pushed the Wildcats up to a three-point favorite by game time.
Friday’s delayed tipoff frustrated even a certain Wildcat fan in McAllen, Texas.
That would be former Wildcat forward Kevin Parrom, who was scheduled to face ex-teammate Grant Jerrett of Tulsa in a D-League game at 8 p.m. at Rio Grande Valley, where Parrom is playing.
“Game vs my boy Grant Jerrett and the Tulsa 66ers,” Parrom said on Twitter. “Mad that I will probably catch the end of the duke/az game. I know my boys gonna turnup.”
On a five-day business trip to New York this week, the Wildcats managed to squeeze in a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at their Times Square hotel.
All staffers, players and coaches were invited along with the family members who tagged along. Among the players who had family members in town to watch the NIT games were T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Tarczewski and Johnson.
“I’m looking down the bench and I’m like ‘We’re running out of people,’ you know what I mean?” – Drexel coach James “Bruiser” Flint, on life in a triple-overtime game
The big number
Minutes the UA-Duke tipoff was delayed because of Alabama and Drexel’s triple-overtime game in the consolation contest.