BBL: UK women go west; Princeton not old Princeton

(H-L photo/Pablo Alcala)

(H-L photo/Pablo Alcala)

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

- Kentucky women headed to Albuquerque, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader.

After the high fives and the cheers died down, Coach Matthew Mitchell approached his team seated on the large couch in his den.

“Does anyone know the state motto for New Mexico?” he asked after UK learned it will be a four seed in the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque.

His players laughed.

“It’s the land of enchantment,” he told them.

- Princeton is Princeton in name only, writes Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader.

A strange sight caught the eye of Princeton guard Dan Mavraides last weekend during the one-game Ivy League playoff against Harvard.

“We get a rebound, I look down the floor and I see five guys from Harvard sprinting back,” Mavraides said on Monday. “Just turning around and sprinting back. That’s not something you’d see the team do against Princeton, traditionally.”

Princeton will not necessarily play the “Princeton style” against Kentucky in their NCAA Tournament game on Thursday.

- They still remember Princeton as giant-killers, writes Steve Politi of Newark Star-Ledger.

The old basketball coach has been around long enough to know where this phone call was going.

His former team, Princeton, is about to play another perennial powerhouse in the NCAA Tournament, this time Kentucky.

And it was exactly 15 years ago today that the Tigers turned themselves into the most celebrated giant slayers in college basketball.

“Ancient history!” Pete Carril barked from his home in Sacramento, Calif., last night.

- What math whiz thought Kentucky was a No. 4 seed? asks Rick Bozich of the C-J.

“I agree with the top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. I simply don’t embrace or understand the way the Tournament Selection Committee ranked those 16 squads.”

In fact, I’m puzzled. I can’t find one system that suggests that either Kentucky or Texas deserved a four seed in the bracket – and I checked five ranking systems.

A two seed was more justified for both the Wildcats and the Longhorns. A three is the absolute worst starting point either Texas or Kentucky deserved.

- Princeton making offensive transition, writes Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal.

It’s a scheme based on constant movement of player and ball, a measured approach that typically runs plays deep into the shot clock, then looks for buckets on backdoor cuts.

And Johnson hasn’t abandoned it.

The e-mail address listed for him on Princeton’s website contains the word “backdoor,” and Johnson is rooted in the Princeton scheme as both player and coach.

He worked as an assistant at Georgetown under John Thompson III, a former Princeton player and head coach who employed a version of the Princeton offense. And when Johnson returned to coach his alma mater in 2007, he was using one too.

- UK women are going west, writes Eric Lindsey of Cat Scratches.

In a speech he delivered to his team at a Selection Show party at his house, Mitchell pointed out the advantages of going to the West, chiefly the opportunity to draw a four seed and stay out of a team’s local region, such as Maryland in College Park, Md.

“As far as the NCAA considers you, you’re one of the top 16 teams in the country,” Mitchell said to reporters. “That’s a tremendous accomplishment for this particular team. As it relates to our program, it’s great to go back to back for the first time in a long time, but I’m more excited for this team because this team had to overcome so much. We’ve had so many obstacles we’ve had to clear and so many times of adversity where we’ve had to bounce back, and they’ve done that every time. To land inside the top 16 is a tremendous accomplishment for this particular group of players.”

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