I think I share the same sentiments that all basketball fans around the world are feeling right now (really, all sports fans in general): this is the worst.
Not having NBA games to watch as teams position themselves for the playoffs, missing out on college basketball conference tournaments, and (by far the most disappointing) losing the chance to watch March Madness unfold in both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournaments - it’s all just so deflating.
I do believe the NBA, the NCAA, and all other competitive organizations/affiliates absolutely made the correct call effectively putting sports on hold as COVID-19 continues to affect people all over the world. The health and well-being of our professional athletes, collegiate athletes, their families, and just fans in general, is of far greater importance at this time than any sporting event.
That doesn’t mean we can’t still really miss basketball, especially in a month like March. Because we all probably have countless fond memories of moments made during both the college basketball conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament, I thought that it might be a good time (without any other kind of basketball going on) to bring the best of those two worlds together for Magic fans:
a) Current Magic players &
b) their most memorable March moments playing at the collegiate-level
For some avid college basketball fans, these moments may still be familiar in your sports recall. For some younger Magic fans, or possibly fans that just don’t follow college basketball as closely as the NBA, this could be content your’e experiencing for the first time (which could be pretty rad).
I hope you enjoy our “Magic March Madness” re-watch series!
Who: D.J. Augustin, sophomore point guard at University of Texas
What: Sweet Sixteen (Regional Semifinal) against Stanford University
When: March 28th, 2008
Stats: 23 points (10-18 FGA’s, 2-4 3PTA’s), 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Augustin, who won two state titles at the prep-level at Brother Martin High School, was forced out of New Orleans in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. Augustin played his senior year of high school in Missouri City, Texas, and earned the recognition of being a McDonald’s All-American.
Augustin signed with the University of Texas, along with future NBA legend Kevin Durant, making up one of the best recruiting classes in Longhorn history. The four-star lead guard started all 35 games his freshmen year, playing the role of “Robin” to Durant’s “Batman”. Durant, who was garnered with every major player of the year award in the country (AP Player of the Year, Wooden Award, Naismith Award, etc.) after averaging 25.8 points per game as a freshmen, left Texas after one year and headed for the NBA.
Augustin chose to stick around Austin for another season, and he took much more of a lead-role for Texas as a sophomore. Augustin was awarded with the Bob Cousy Award in 2008, given to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. He was named All-Big 12 (1st team) after averaging 19.2 points per game (2nd in conference) and 5.8 assists per game (led conference for second-straight year).
Texas entered the 2008 NCAA Tournament as a #2 seed in the South region. They defeated Austin Peay fairly decisively, and then narrowly advanced past the University of Miami (75-72), setting-up a Sweet Sixteen match-up against Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, and the Stanford Cardinal.
I thought this exercise would work out best if I just transcribed my thoughts/reactions of the game using an informal list. Video time-stamps are included with my comments.
- (0:02) From the opening tip, you could kind of get the sense that Billy Packer and Jim Nantz were trying to set-up a David vs. Goliath-type game. In reality, Texas was ranked one seed higher than Stanford (#3 seed), but what they’re really trying to reference is the obvious disparity in height between the two teams on the floor. Stanford was running out the Lopez twins (both seven-footers), Texas started a back-court of two 5-11 players.
- (5:05) D.J. did a really nice job pushing the ball down the court off his own rebound before setting-up a teammate for a dunk with a beautiful lob in transition. You can already tell that Stanford is going to likely have a lot of success in the paint in the game, but that Texas is also a bit more athletic than this Cardinal team.
- (12:48) Augustin knocks down his first bucket of the game, stepping into a three-point field goal from the wing as his defender went under a screen. Eleven years later, some defenders still haven’t learned.
- (15:28) Packer mentions how Stanford defenders are giving Augustin too much room to see the floor, even mentions what a “good passer he is”. Seemingly on cue, Augustin drops a pinpoint dime to a teammate coming off a down-screen in the corner.
- (18:05) Coming off a curl from the right-corner, Augustin uses a screen to get the ball in the paint, and finishes the play with a high-arcing fade-away mid-range jumper over a Stanford defender. That was fun...
- (24:00) On the right-wing, with the ball and his back to his defender, Augustin fakes to his right, and then dribbles away from the screen towards the baseline. Brook Lopez comes down the lane (late) to help, but Augustin absorbs the body contact and finishes at the rim with a reverse layup (Nantz loves it).
- (26:55) One more D.J. three-point field goal coming off a screen, this time from the top of the key. Stop going under the screens against this man, maybe?
- (34:55) Augustin found a good amount of his success in this game playing off the ball, which I found to be interesting. Here, with Robin Lopez defending the perimeter, Augustin’s teammate finds him cutting back-door from the left-wing for an uncontested layup.
- (48:20) Arguably, the play of the game came midway through the second half as Stanford was climbing their way back into the contest. Landry Fields (remember that name?), who had just buried a three-point field goal to draw Stanford within one, threw the ball away after getting trapped in the left corner. Augustin beat everyone on the floor to the loose ball, and then converted in transition at the other end - forcing Stanford to call timeout.
- (55:30) Augustin ices the game, ensuring his Longhorns will advance to the Elite Eight, by knocking-down a difficult shot in the paint moving to his left off the dribble (and finishing over a lot of height/length by fading-away with the shot).
Augustin’s Texas Longhorns squad would get knocked-out of the tournament in their next game against the Memphis Tigers (who advanced to the National Championship Game). The loss in the South Regional final would be Augustin’s final collegiate game.
But for one night in the NCAA Tournament against the Lopez twins (and the Stanford Cardinal), Augustin was “Magic” in March.
You can follow Aaron Goldstone on Twitter at @AaronGoldstone. Video used in this article courtesy of the ‘NCAA Vault’ - T3SportsNCAA.