Smack / Mar 29, 2009 / 4:33 am

Gilbert Arenas is back and better, and ‘Nova makes the Final Four

Gilbert Arenas

Are we seeing the early stages of a new, more mature Gilbert Arenas? The other day he announced his “retirement” from blogging, and instead of gunning for 40 in his season debut last night, Gil was clearly making an effort to pass the rock and get other guys their looks. Arenas finished with 15 points (3-12 FG) and 10 dimes against the Pistons, assisting on each of Washington’s first four buckets and not taking his first shot until Rip Hamilton left him wide open to stick a three … Not that he didn’t show any of the old love-him-or-hate-him Agent Zero: Down three with four seconds left, Arenas was sent to the line, making the first FT and missing the second. Gil chased down the rebound and ran to the corner to take a three, which Kwame Brown (of all people) blocked. In the post-game Arenas couldn’t even explain why he didn’t call a timeout or take the two-pointer and go for overtime … Even if Gilbert had hit that three, Saturday’s enduring image still would belong to Scottie Reynolds. “No one has won more games for Villanova than this guy,” Jay Wright said about Reynolds after his game-winner against Pitt sent ‘Nova to the Final Four. Tied with five seconds left, Pitt decided to full-court press — one of the first times they’d pressed all game and not the best move for a team that generally never plays like that. ‘Nova exploited the press with a Bryce Drew/hook-and-ladder play that got Reynolds (15 pts) a running start at the rim, where he hit a tough layup over DaJuan Blair (20 pts, 10 rebs) and Gilbert Brown with 0.5 on the clock. Fields missed a 3/4-court prayer at the end … Before Reynolds’ shot, though, ‘Nova almost gave the game away. They were up two with 10 seconds left and inbounding under Pitt’s basket when Reggie Redding tried to hit Dante Cunningham with a full-court TD pass, resulting in a turnover. Instead of Pitt having to foul and hope ‘Nova missed from the line, Levance Fields tied it up with two ice-vein free throws … Try and tell us Pitt’s Tyrell Biggs doesn’t look exactly like Michael Olowokandi … Missouri got UConn to play the up-and-down pace they wanted, they forced 17 Husky turnovers, and they did a solid job of taking away Hasheem Thabeet as a shot-blocker and scorer. Still, they couldn’t account for A.J. Price and Kemba Walker. The senior Price (18 pts) and freshman Walker (23 pts) consistently broke Missouri’s press and out-ran everybody to the bucket, as the Huskies survived their toughest challenge on the way to the Final Four … That’s two Big East teams in the Final Four, and Louisville tries to make it three later today. But the matchup everybody’s waiting for is Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough in the Oklahoma/UNC game. Somebody’s going to bleed in that one …

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds

The Suns are running out of time and losing too many important games if they’re still gonna sneak into the playoffs. Last night they came back from a 21-point deficit in Utah and actually led by seven well into the fourth quarter, but still managed to come up on the wrong end … Deron Williams hit a fadeaway with 25 seconds left to bring the Jazz within two, and after Phoenix botched the ensuing inbounds play, Deron (21 pts, 13 asts) hit Steve Nash with a crossover/pull-up J to force overtime. Utah took the lead in OT on Andrei Kirilenko‘s four-point play — his only field goal of the game — and never trailed after that … Awful defense is nothing new with the Warriors, but last night they were just lazy as Denver dropped 129 points on ‘em (except for Kelenna Azubuike, who was trying but got dunked on like 3-4 times). The Nuggets were getting uncontested dunks and layups and wide-open threes whenever they wanted — it was like watching Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter (13 asts) play Duck Hunt — while the GS defenders would just stand there and look at each other like, “Why aren’t you all helping me?” Seven Nugget scored in double-figures, led by Carmelo‘s 31 points … During an in-game promo for the NBA.com Dance Team contest, the camera did a slow-pan of the Nuggets’ dancers, and Denver’s color commentator suddenly went into Creepy Old-Man Mode. “Nice shot of the ladiessssss,” he hissed, blatantly leering at the girls … After Anthony Randolph tried to score on some unidentifiable post move, one of the Denver announcers said, “He needs to work with a big. You can tell.” … Other notable stats from Saturday: Dwyane Wade had 27 points, seven dimes and three steals in a win over Milwaukee; Gerald Wallace (who kind of owns this section of Smack) posted 23 points, nine boards, eight assists and three blocks in a win over New York; Ben Gordon scored 25 in a win over Indiana, while Danny Granger had 32 in the loss; and the Blazers defense held the Grizzlies to 66 points in a game where Darius Miles got booed every time he blinked by the Portland fans … Rockets/Clippers was over by halftime, when the Rockets led by 21 and Yao Ming (21 pts, 15 rebs) already had a double-double. One time Von Wafer air-balled two jumpers in a row, prompting Clyde Drexler to jokingly ask if there was a draft in the building. Then Eric Gordon air-balled a mid-range J by a mile, and Drexler sounded serious: “There really is a draft in here” … We’re out like Pitt …

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  • knoc

    UNC!!!! TY TY TY TY!

  • AB_40

    pitt was gonna go out anyway… tonight is gonna be great tyler hansbrough playing against a player who is also nba caliber blake griffin (aka pre injury k mart mach II) I think the game is gonna belong to ty lawson. louisville msu if this is gonna be another beatdown the cardinals will come into the ff real cocky wich is good for other teams and not for them.

    gilbert should’ve come back next season

  • I love BIG BREASTS

    What about Findlay? Findlay claims Division II title — Tyler Evans’ long 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer lifted undefeated Findlay (Ohio) to a 56-53 victory over Cal Poly …………You couldn’t ask for more. To end your career on such a memorable note. Get the whole season on DVD.
    Outstanding shot, senior!

  • dagwaller

    You really can’t bust on Pitt for pressing on the final play, and then in the next sentence casually mention that the previous play, Pitt did a great job pressing Villanova.

  • My 2 Cents

    Can’t wait to watch Oklahoma vs UNC, i like Tyler Hansbrough and it be intersting to see how he plays against Blake Griffin.

  • Rafa23

    agree with dagwaller, you cant criticize it and then say it worked 2 minutes earlier.

  • doc

    Yeah the press was a bad decision but the same damn press almost brung them back from the dead 10 seconds earlier.They just got that ass bust like everybody else.My bracket still trump tight!Lets go Nova clap clap,clap,clap,clap.I hope we play UNC so they can get that ass bust.

  • E$

    Can’t believe I missed GA back n action

  • Luigi

    Scottie Rey from my area. Herndon, VA. Representinnn!
    i WANNA see what he is gonna do against Lawson if UNC ends up beating OK. but if its the other way. like OK beats UNC. then i want to see him vs the Willie Warren too.

    oh n for all the people who are all haters of Gilbert Arenas…let me just say.. this. although we lost the game. we made Washington bball exciting again. and a double double first game back instead of a 40pt no ast game?. thats improvement. all of have to feel that Gil is back and BETTER than ever

  • QQ

    Louisville takin’ the crown this year.

  • MoxWestCoastRep

    This is going to give all the Hansborough fans a reality check of what life will be like in the NBA. No more going against weaker smaller players he faces and destroys. Blake has an NBA game and NBA body and is going to own Tyler.
    UNC has the better team and may come away with the W, but this matchup is going to be very lopsided.

  • Chaos

    any feel that?…scotty reynolds draft stock just went up

  • http://myspace/jkwryter Gunner J. Matthews

    I’ll tell you then
    Biggs looks more like that guy from BET (I forget his name)

  • Tha Boddy

    Arenas is back haters back down!!!

  • Kudabeen

    I’m not a big Ty Hansborough fan, but this one match up will not erase his consistent 4 years of big performances and energy all over the floor. Blake has dominated everyone, so if he dominates tonight…what is surprising?

    Nova is playing with so much confidence right now…I hope the Final Four hype doesn’t shake their focus and grit. The only thing I see as a potential issue is that UNC is a glamor program and they get some NBA type favoritism calls in games…Nova plays very physical and foul trouble could take them out of it. Nova has to got at who ever they match up with and get them on their heels first.

    Groan Sutton looks legit…The J is right, Foot work right, and passing is strong…He also bangs and rebounds with whoever…Talk about rising stock…

    Scottie draft stock maybe rising but not by much…As great as he is on this level his game fell off from his first two years. He really has to find his J again get stronger…He will be a good player regardless…

  • doc

    They gonna bust UNC ass if they win tonight.I dont give a damn if they Americas team or not.They said the same shit when they played Duke,until that 20 piece.Same for UCLA,until that 20 piece.That shit dont matter if they ball hard its a wrap.And they ball hard.

  • E$
  • Kudabeen

    Louisville is getting (old school word) Chumped…They had their heads down it seems like the entire second half…where’s the heart? I guess Sutton and crew ate it…

  • http://www.twitter.com/austinburton18 Austin Burton, “T.M.P.”

    Where does it say PItt did a great job with the press with 10 seconds left? That was more a result of Nova’s bad decision to go for the home run instead of the simple inbounds.

  • http://bounce fan

    Funny how all of corey fisher play’s Passing/layup/clutch freethrows down the stretch were forgotten about. He should have played more than he did. Scottie Reynolds played a horrible game and he’s been bad all tournament. If they would have inbounded the ball to corey when he flashed open. He would have been the media hero. This same style of coaching is the reason Malcom Grant left. Shout Outs to Kemba Walker and Corey Fisher for coming thru and saving there teams down the stretch. Real New York Heart w/o the so called flash.

  • dagwaller

    Haha, doc I was thinkin of you watching the Nova game last night – I wanted Pitt to lose so bad.

    I figure UNC will win tonight, with similar performances from the two star bigs.

    Austin, isn’t the point of the press to fluster and force a bad decision upon the other team? Which is exactly what happened?

  • the scola

    @ #10

    that’s a shame…

  • QQ

    Haha. @ 21.

    Yah. I know. I’ve been a Cardinals fan for years, and this is the best chance they’ll win a title in years. They didn’t win the title and it was a letdown knowing that they are the top overall seed, but despite what people may say, I still enjoyed their run.

  • dagwaller

    QQ, with the humility!

    I guess I’ll go out and say that my own prediction went somewhat awry. Hansbrough didn’t play as well as Griffin, for sure, although I’m sure there are plenty of excuses to be made.

  • QQ

    LOL. That’s how I roll dag. And even though they beat my Cardinals, I’m going with MSU. Izzo can coach with the best of ‘em.

  • Dave

    this is UCONN’s tourney to lose regardless of who beats who on the other side.
    And is it just me or did Blake Griffin look like Carlos Boozer….never once moved his feet on defense, he was pathetic and didn’t seem to care if they won or lost, he knew he was going to get his. Someone’s going to draft an egg there, hope it ain’t the Jazz.