By Adam Stanco
7 Secrets to NCAA Tournament
Success: Star Power
In 2005, Chris Rock, while
hosting the Academy Awards, said it best.
“You want Tom Cruise and
all you can get is Jude Law? Wait.”
Nothing compares to a
Tom Cruise’s pre-insanity
talent gave Goose, Rod Tidwell, and a hooker on a train a part in some of
the greatest moments in movie history. He raised the level of their games.
The elite players in college basketball do the same.
Stars are vital for two
reasons. First, they add a swagger to their teams. They give their teams
someone to believe in, someone to follow, and – in doing so – they give them
an identity. Secondly, stars are a safety net. When a tourney team falls
victim to the inevitable scoring drought, go-to-guys live up to their
namesake. A critical basket will shift momentum and instill confidence. The
kind of confidence critical in surviving through a six-game winning-streak.
Seven of the previous eight
championship-winning teams featured at least one All-American, who doubled
as a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate. Rashad McCants (UNC,
’05), Emeka Okafor (UConn, ’04), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse, ’03), Juan Dixon
(Maryland, ’02), Jay Williams (Duke, ’01), Shane Battier (Duke, ’01), Mateen
Cleaves (Michigan State, ’00), Richard Hamilton (UConn, ’99) all led their
teams to titles after earning individual accolades during the regular
Florida didn’t have an
award winner last year, but Joakim Noah morphed into a superstar in the
midst of the Gators’ tourney run. By the time Florida cut the nets down,
Noah was the name countlessly uttered by the NBA teams with a shot at the
first pick in the draft.
But be careful. A team’s
star is often not who you think it is.
Last year, UConn leaned on
Rudy Gay. The sensational swingman owned the kind of skills and athletic
gifts that only the basketball gods could give. But the problem was that Mr.
Gay wasn’t the Huskies’ go-to-guy. Marcus Williams was.
Whenever UConn was backed
into a late-game possession, Williams took the significant shot. When the
Huskies saw a seemingly endless string of bricks, Jim Calhoun ran a play to
isolate Williams. The problem was that for all of the brilliance Williams
possessed as a distributor, he wasn’t a prolific scorer.
That weakness enabled a
glass slipper wearing George Mason team to stay out past midnight against
the Big East power.
The same may happen to
Ohio State. The OSU wing players (Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis, Daequan Cook, and
Ivan Harris) have firepower and Greg Oden receives more defensive attention
than headlines, but Mike Conley is the heart of the Buckeyes. He takes all
the gigantic shots and, as he proved in the regular season against
Wisconsin, he can make them. Still, his inconsistent jumper might keep them
out of the Final Four.
Secrets For NCAA Tournament
- NBA potential is no joke.
- The bigger, the better.
- Simple math: three is better than two.
- Who has nerves of steel?
- Winning is the All-American way.
- Little guys point the way.
- Fear of the unknown.
The March Manifesto is the secret
to filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.