Mar 25, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls guard Brandon Weatherspoon (23) reacts after a 3-pointer during the second half of an NCAA tournament East Regional final against the Kansas State Wildcats at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Van Chancellor: Surprising Final Four should be exciting
Van Chancellor is a former head coach of women’s programs at Mississippi, LSU, and the Houston Comets. He won four WNBA titles with the Comets, won a Gold Medal as an Olympic team coach, and reached five Elite Eights and a Final Four in college basketball.
The 2023 Final Four is coming to NRG, and the field is not what Cougar fans hoped for, or the tournament organization committee expected.
For the first time in all the years of the tournament, not a single No. 1 seed prevailed. The field hosts a No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, two No. 5’s in San Diego State and Miami, and the highest seed, No. 4 UConn. Just because we are unfamiliar with some of these teams does not mean the games will not be exciting.
Florida Atlantic shoots threes, runs the floor, and plays a game of basketball that is fun to watch. Dusty May is the hottest coach in the country; don’t be surprised if you see him coaching a Power Five school next year. He was a Division II player that transferred to Indiana to manage for legendary Indiana coach Bobby Knight to observe and learn. It has paid off for him.
Bobby Hurley, the coach of UConn, comes from a coaching family. His dad is a legendary high school coach, and he grew up as a student of the game. UConn has a history of Final Four Championships, and this year’s team is playing with a mission and a chip on their shoulder to add another. Their margin of victory in the tournament shows they are a team not to be overlooked.
Miami is a tough matchup because each player is capable of beating their opponent one on one off the dribble. If you try to bring defensive help, they dish the ball to an open shooter that can make you pay with a 3-ball. They are masters at getting the ball into the paint, and you don’t want to put them on the foul line.
San Diego State is a full-court pressure team that wants to turn you over or interrupt your offense with pressure defense. They are a poised team that does not rattle easily, as seen in the final tension-filled minutes against Creighton on Saturday. A player who had gone 5 of 14 all night stood on the free throw line after missing the first of a two-shot free throw attempt and calmly nailed the second for a 57-56 victory.
It is good for the that new teams are in the Final Four. This is the Holy Grail of basketball, and every coach, player, and fan wants to experience it. The new transfer rule where players can transfer without sitting out a year has created instantly talented teams, and the 3-point shot has changed the game.
All of the teams coming to H-Town this week will be exciting to watch as they have already shown by their gutsy play in the tournament. Also in town will be the annual Coaches’ Clinic bringing coaches from all levels to town. So get out and enjoy the fanfare and the games Saturday and Monday at NRG. Florida Atlantic will take on San Diego State at 5 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Miami and UConn at 7:49 p.m.
Don’t miss Mack’s new deal with the Astros this season. They have the best organization in baseball, and you can take advantage of Mack’s promotion as the Astros bring another championship parade to Houston.