Final Four: A Longshot, But Worth Mentioning

Final Four: A Longshot, But Worth Mentioning
January 22, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Final Four History---Little less than two months before we get to March Madness, which ironically now every year ends in April, but still love the name. March Madness has never been much of a hot topic in the Pacific Northwest where I reside, sadly.

That could all change this year. We know right now that almost certainly the Oregon Ducks and Gonzaga Bulldogs are getting in the Big Dance for sure. Those two teams are just too good, too deep and have proven they can win huge games on the road. The perfect formula that the committee loves, not mention that both the Zags and Ducks are international brands when it comes to college athletics.

Of course it is a longshot to say both of these teams could get to the Final Four, but the possibility does exist. An Oregon/Gonzaga match-up in the Final Four would be a dream come true for this guy, just because it would do wonders for the long suffering Pacific Northwest college basketball. Probably will not happen, but if it does I want to get it out there right now, so we can think about it.

A little history on teams in the Final Four from the Northwest takes some digging and probably happened before 80 percent of the Crawford's Court readers were even born. The last team from the Pacific Northwest to play in the Final Four was the 1963 Oregon State Beavers. It actually seems it was that long since the Beavers have even been in the NCAA tournament, but of course that year was 1990. Before the Beavers, it was Seattle University playing for the national title in 1958.

The best chances since the Beavers in 1963 have been the Oregon Ducks who went to the Elite 8 and all the great Washington/Gonzaga teams who had the potential to get there.

As I always say, it remains to be seen, but the door is cracked open just an inch for both the Ducks and Bulldogs this year, with the Zags having the best chance with what appears to be the best Mark Few team ever at Gonzaga.

Mac's Message---Time for another good question from a reader and answer by Andy McClouskey, assistant basketball coach at Portland State.

"Coach Mac, the Vikings drive me nuts, because of their inconsistent play. Is there an answer? Appreciate being able to ask the question and recently had a chance to meet Crawford, he was so kind to me and my son."---Willard, North Portland

"Willard I can't believe your question because I am thinking the same thing. Good question. Your frustration is exactly where I am as well because we have shown we can play good basketball in stretches, but not on a consistent basis. I don't know if there is one answer for this issue that faces our team and many other teams in America, but let me try.

1. I think to be consistent as a team you have to be good all the time in areas that do not involve SHOOTING. Your shot will come and go and opponents will get hot on your from time to time.

2. You must consistently play good defense and limit teams' field goal percentages. We have a team goal each year game to hold our opponents to 42 percent or less from the field. We have not reached this objective on a regular basis this year.

3. You must as a team take care of the ball and limit your turnovers. By limiting turnovers you give yourself more chances to score and maximize your offensive possessions. We have a team goal to limit our turnovers to 12 or fewer. In our wins we seem to meet this objective. 

4. The last thing I think to be consistent is to limit the number of 2nd shots by your opponent. Like the turnover issue, you are trying to maximize your points per possession and minimize points per possession for the the opponent.

In conclusion, your jump shot will come and go. Some nights the basket looks like a hoola hoop and other nights it looks like a badly place hole location at Rose City Golf Course. Your shot can be inconsistent and so can the shot of your foe, but you should be able to play defense well, take care of the ball and rebound the ball on a regular basis.

As I slept on the way back from our recent road trip on the flight home from Chicago, I swear I dreamed that the great Oregon State coach, Ralph Miller said:"McClouskey if you want your teams to be consistently good, take care of the damn ball and take care of your defensive board." If only it was that easy.

I concur on Crawford. He is always kind, caring and a nice fellow to everyone. Oh and did I mention he knows basketball and always has a strong opinion, we love seeing him at Portland State, even when he is mad at the way we play.

Craw's Nine---The nine best teams in the six western leagues that play D-1 basketball, keeping in mind, the selections are in the moment, but feel free to challenge them in the comment section and list your to nine.

9. Washington---I know a loss to Utah last week, but they have been playing great in the past three weeks. Dangerous ball club.

8. St. Mary's---One of the best coaches in all of basketball on any level, Randy Bennett

7. Montana---Speaking of coaches, Wayne Tinkle always has good teams and watch out for Will Cherry

6. UCLA---Never count them out, bad loss to the Ducks, they will be back, too much talent.

5. Weber State---Is this Randy Rahe's best team ever in Ogden. Showdown this week versus Montana.

4. Gonzaga---They lost the top spot, but still really, really good. I say Final Four good.

3. Arizona---17-1, that says it all, big time team.

2. Oregon---Dana Altman, Dana Altman, Dana Altman

1. New Mexico---  Best team out west at present

"100 in 90"---It was a big week, nine games, total for the year 49, on pace to hit 100. Still holding up well, thanks again to the fans and readers for the great offer of food and drinks at all the games you see me. You are worried about my pace, I appreciate it.

Scores---The fun part.  Horrible week last week, 1-6, 40-13 for year. This week is big.

And this week's scores are dedicated to my great friend Terry Gierke, who told me three times this week, what a terrible week I had last week.

Washington St (55) at Oregon (90) ----Ducks roll and Bone on the hot seat in Pullman

UCLA (64) at Arizona (63)---My upset special

Weber State(62) at Montana (67)---Two power programs in the Big Sky, home team prevails

BYU (69) at Portland (71)----Coach Reveno will have the Pilots ready this week, count on it.

College Basketball