Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sam's The Man

The hype was all about Thabeet vs. Blair. It turns out that angle was vastly overblown. This game was all about Sam Young against...well the entire UConn team it turns out.

UConn could've thrown their entire team at Sam I Am (and they did at times) and I don't think it would have mattered today. Young was a man possessed in his final game at the Petersen Events Center. He posted a ridiculous 31 points and 10 rebounds on the Huskies, more than half of UConn's point total, en route to a spectacular 70-60 finale at the Pete.

Besides Young's career day, it was also a day for celebrating two other important seniors, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs. Both performed exactly how you'd expect them to in this type of big game. Despite a tailbone bruise, Fields posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists, continuing the amazing senior campaign he's posted. His shot may not have been falling as often as it usually does, but his spectacular quarterbacking more than made up for it. Tyrell Biggs, meanwhile, continued fulfilling the yeoman's role as well as anyone. He didn't get on the scoreboard, but he did have 6 rebounds and a block and played very well when matched up against Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet. Biggs has been the ultimate team player/ unsung hero type that Pitt has built their program around for the last decade or so.

Also, in what some have said could be DeJuan Blair's final game, the big fella had a quieter game than usual. He managed to sort of stay out of foul trouble, especially in the second half. But he seemed content to just neutralize Thabeet defensively and let Sam carry the load at the other end. And there was nothing wrong with that, as it was the best gameplan for the Panthers in the long run, especially after Thabeet had a very good first half.

One of the running subplots in recent weeks in Big East play has been who the Big East Player of the Year was going to be. For the most part I thought it was down to DeJuan Blair or Hasheem Thabeet, with Luke Harangody having a shot if the voters suddenly became mentally impaired. Well, I think Sam Young might have thrown his name back in that ring today. He has been surprisingly overshadowed for much of the season by Blair's excellence, but he was by far the best player on that court today. I also think Levance Fields should get some recognition for his great work this year. It's really hard for me to even pinpoint exactly which one of these three I would call my team MVP. At gunpoint, it has to be Blair, but the difference is quite negligible between our Big Three.

I also wanted to mention that it was my last game as a member of the Oakland Zoo. I really couldn't have asked for a better finish, either. This might have been the best game I've seen from the vantage point of the Zoo. I also don't know that I've been a part of a more amped-up and generally excited bunch than was there today. I just went through the replay on my DVR and couldn't get over how loud and fired up the crowd was toward the end of the game, as well as how venomous things got when the refs made a few highly questionable calls midway through the first half. All in all, it has been a great run in the Zoo, and knocking off number 1 is a hell of a way to go out.

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