Mar 28, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT
In 2003 it was Kansas’ Michael Lee. In the 2005 National Championship game it was Jack Ingram (who?) of Illinois. Last year it was whatever rim Butler was shooting at.
Every few years we get a guy that rode the pine or was inconsistent in the regular season. By tourney time, you weren’t expecting much out of him. But as madness would have it, the guy steps up big for whatever reason.
You can’t guarantee that there will be an unsung hero in the 2012 Final Four, but you can at least forecast who that player may be based on matchups and circumstances that may force a coach to look down towards the end of the bench for some help.
Who knows if any of the four players below will make any sort of impact in New Orleans. But if they do, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Amir Williams (Ohio State)
Had the Buckeyes defeated Syracuse without key shots from Lenzelle Smith, the sophomore guard would be obvious pick here. But because of his 18-point performance in the Elite Eight, the next player in Thad Matta’s rotation who may need to save his best game for the team’s biggest game is Williams. With the whistle being blown with such high frequency in this tournament, you may see Jared Sullinger and Evan Ravenel stuck on the bench for periods of time on Saturday. Against one of the best front lines in college basketball, Williams job against Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey will be much tougher than trying to slow down Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa-Keita. Because of the depth of the Buckeyes, Williams is a 2011 McDonalds All-American who only got seven minutes of run this season. He’s no slouch, it’s just a matter of if he can make a big play or two in what’s sure to be limited minutes.
Jared Swopshire (Louisville)
It’s got to be weird for Swopshire. He’s a former starter, but after sitting out last season with a groin injury he’s fallen behind freshman Chane Behanan on the depth chart. After Rick Pitino opted not to tag Swop with a medical-redshirt, all parties agreed it was best for the junior forward to transfer somewhere after this season. But before he goes, Swopshire could serve as an able body Pitino can throw into the game against Kentucky to maybe hit a few shots or grab a few rebounds to keep the Cardinals within striking distance of Kentucky. If he’s able to contribute – if Pitino or foul trouble gives Swopshire the chance to contribute – it could be a really cool story for him before he heads elsewhere.
Kevin Young (Kansas)
There have been big, nationally televised Kansas games this season were Young frankly just looked like he didn’t belong. He looked timid and took the court simply hoping to not make a mistake, rather than assert himself and make a big play. But Bill Self has entrusted Young in the latter half of this season, as the Loyola Marymount transfer has averaged more than five rebounds a game in this NCAA Tournament. Because Ohio State’s frontcourt is deeper and more versatile, it will take a guy like Young to come off the bench for the Jayhawks and limit the production of Deshaun Thomas, and maybe even Lenzelle Smith and William Buford. If Self lets this kid give it his all in short spurts on Saturday night, he could prove valuable on the defensive end.
Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky)
Full disclosure, I simply went down the list of Kentucky players until I found the first guy not averaging double-figures in points. No offense to Wiltjer, but that’s the best way to go about this for the Wildcats. With six UK players averaging 10 or more points a game, and nearly all six of those players also doubling as pretty solid to elite defenders, Wiltjer can only be the unsung hero for this team if his teammates struggle to score and he’s stroking it from beyond the arc.
May 18, 2013, 3:42 PM EDT
Since he led Team USA to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has maintained that it would, in fact, be his last run at the head of the USA Basketball program. That may be changing, however. According to a report from Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Coach…
May 18, 2013, 2:32 PM EDT
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May 18, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
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May 18, 2013, 12:12 PM EDT
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May 18, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Oregon State picked up a late 2013 commitment when 6-2 combo guard Malcolm Duvivier opted to sign his letter of intent on Friday after previously being a member of the 2014 class. Duvivier — a native of Toronto — was previously regarded as Rivals’ No. 116 player in the 2014 national rankings before filling an…
May 18, 2013, 10:02 AM EDT
Tennessee sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola has opted to transfer to UNC-Wilmington, per a Tweet from Brian Mull of StarNews. Makanjuola — a 6-9, 250-pound native of Nigeria — will have two years of eligibility remaining after NCAA transfer rules force him to sit out next season. Makanjuola will be eligible in the 2014-15 season and saw action…
May 17, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
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May 17, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
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May 17, 2013, 6:48 PM EDT
In the immediate aftermath of Steve Alford’s decision to leave New Mexico to take over as head coach at UCLA, many wondered how much would he have to pay UNM in order to get out of his contract. While Alford and his representation argued that the coach, who led the Lobos to four Mountain West…
May 17, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
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May 17, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT
With three guards, most notably leading scorer DeAndre Kane, deciding to transfer Marshall head coach Tom Herrion was in need of some extra depth for his backcourt in 2013-14. Thanks to a commitment from 2013 combo guard Jaylen Brantley, the Thundering Herd won’t go into next season shorthanded in that area. Brantley, who played at…
May 17, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
Last month it was reported that Purdue forward Sandi Marcius was running into a major complication in regards to his decision to graduate and then transfer to another school where he would be able to play as a graduate student. That major complication was Purdue’s refusal to pay for the summer school courses Marcius needs…
May 17, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Florida Gulf Coast was one of the best stories of the 2013 NCAA tournament, becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16 and earning the moniker “Dunk City” (thanks to Troy Machir) with their attractive style of play and penchant for above the rim finishes. And next season the Eagles, under new head coach…
May 17, 2013, 2:29 PM EDT
After two quiet seasons at the University of Texas, sophomore Jaylen Bond made the decision to transfer. Bond, a 6-7 forward from Philadelphia, averaged just 3.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in just under 14 minutes per game during his Longhorn career. Friday, Bond announced his decision to transfer to Temple via Twitter and it’s safe…
May 17, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
In his six seasons as commissioner of the West Coast Conference, Jamie Zaninovich has helped the conference improve its brand in a variety of ways. Whether it’s been the addition of BYU (Pacific joins this summer) or the idea to move the conference basketball tournaments to Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, it’s safe to say…
May 17, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT
While in Chicago taking part in this week’s NBA Draft Combine, former Kansas shooting guard had to answer some questions regarding the allegations levied by his former AAU coach, Darius Cobb, a couple weeks ago. In a story done by USA Today in early May, Cobb stated that he accepted $10,000 from a runner in…
May 17, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
With the decision to keep assistants David Cox and Van Macon on board due in large part to their ability to recruit the Washington, D.C. and New York areas respectively, new Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan has one assistant position left to fill. According to multiple reports Jordan has found his man, as former Los…
May 17, 2013, 9:56 AM EDT
A few days after landing a verbal commitment from 2014 point guard Edmond Sumner, the Xavier basketball program made an addition to its 2013 recruiting class on Thursday. 6-8 forward Aleksandar Vezenkov, a native of Bulgaria, will attend Xavier next season according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Vezenkov played in 20 games this past season for…
May 16, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
Three days after it was reported that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel would announce plans for a new project that would include a new arena for the DePaul basketball program the mayor did just that, unveiling plans with the hope of beginning construction in 2014. The multipurpose facility (which authorities hope will be completed in time…
May 16, 2013, 7:49 PM EDT
The name Harold “Buddy” Hudson may not be one that immediately sparks vivid memories amongst older college basketball fans, but the name is a very important one in the history of Oklahoma Basketball. Tuesday morning Hudson suffered a heart attack and passed away in Kansas City at the age of 75. Hudson is survived by his wife,…
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