Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 21, 2009

MARK MAYNARD: MSU effort bodes well for the future

DAYTON, Ohio — Not much is ever expected of a No. 16 seed.

They are nobody’s bracket-buster.

Morehead State didn’t shock the world either, falling 74-54 to a much stronger and more athletic Louisville on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament opener.

But it’s how the Eagles went about business that will make them remembered as more than the 100th No. 16 seed to fall to a No. 1 seed.

That’s 100-0 for No. 1, if you’re counting.



Morehead played hard, played with passion and played with purpose.

But in the end, all that wasn’t enough.

The effort was good enough. Just not the end result.

Louisville will march on, maybe even to a national championship, but Morehead is leaving the tournament

with renewed pride.

“Morehead State was terrific,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “We played well. We didn’t play great, we played well.”

The Eagles may have raised a few eyebrows by trailing powerhouse Louisville only 35-33 at halftime.

But nobody was exactly predicting victory. Everybody knows how relentless Louisville’s pressure can be. It’s suffocating and it’s taxing. You better be deep – and have nerves of steel – if you’re going to stay with the Cardinals.

Morehead blinked early in the second half. The Eagles tried to catch their breath and, like that, it was over. A blinding 22-6 run to begin the second half, fueled by the defense of Andre McGee, was the difference.

“You can say it was their defense but I personally think it was us,” said senior forward Leon Buchanan. “It’s like starting the game all over again. We weren’t loose like we came out in the beginning of the game.”

Whatever happened, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is Morehead State basketball is back on the map. Coach Donnie Tyndall, a rising star in coaching, has everybody back except Buchanan. That’s the making of a team that can maybe do this again.

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