Was that the New Alamo, or was that merely an amazing basketball game? Tonight’s Kansas-Memphis frenetic, defensive shootout had a little bit of everything, but plenty of Kansas glory in the end.
After a solid first half and the doldrums that followed, Kansas somehow got back on track –– going on an incredible end-of-game run –– to come back and beat Memphis in overtime. The Jayhawks struggled in the second half to regain their interior game that was so dominant in the first half, but Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play healed all Rock Chalk worries (at least until overtime, but the result there speaks for itself). The stunning nature of Chalmers’ shot will be rehashed and replayed for days and years to come but the play of the game was easily the steal of a Memphis inbounds pass with over a minute left in regulation — Memphis’ miscue became three Kansas points and invaluable Jayhawk momentum. I’ll stop myself there. Odds are you watched the game yourself and it’s not my job to supply the play-by-play (though it would’ve been a sure sight better than Billy Packer), but here are some things I took away from the pinnacle of March Madness (in April)…
- The aforementioned steal. Behind, late in a tight game quick points are key and none more than the three produced by the crowning example of Kansas’ tourney-long hustle.
- The non-three. After reviewing Derrick Rose’s off-balance, banked shot to beat the shot clock in the second half (you know the shot I’m talking about), what was originally called a three-pointer became a two-pointer. Possibly the most productive Kansas timeout all season -– they reclaimed a point on the scoreboard, one that possibly made all the difference in the world.
- The free throws. They betrayed Memphis at last. The two best Tigers, Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, together missed three out of their last four free throws to end regulation, leaving the window open for Chalmers heroics. I wonder how Memphis coach John Calipari can downplay the importance of free throw shooting at the end of the game now.
- The lack of Dorsey. Calipari’s best post player, Joey Dorsey had to watch the last stages of the game from the sidelines, and you can’t deny that his presence defending the hoop was not sorely missed.
Other observations and talking points from the caddyshack:
- “One Shining Moment” after the championship game actually takes away from the broadcast and the game itself.
- Bruce Pearl should never be allowed to be seen without his Blaze-Orange blazer. I like him. He smiles, he loves what he does and his exuberance is what makes the finely-tailored hunting jacket work on the sideline.
- Likewise, Rick “I destroyed the Celtics (but it’s not my fault, I swear, it’s because we didn’t get Tim Duncan) and retreated back to college” Pitino should be forced to suffer through sweltering heat in his kitschy white suit and blue underroos.
- I want Roy Williams’ Final Four tie. I don’t care that he lost.
- Billy Packer needs to be sent away quietly. I don’t want a big stink, just peace in college basketball. Packer was so bad, a good friend who doesn’t watch a ton of basketball sent the text: “This announcer really is AWFUL.” Sweet, sweet affirmation. Now we need justice.
- My bracket was not a total wash, I did manage to pick Kansas as the eventual (now, actual) champion.
- John Calipari should always be seen in a hideous 5-o’clock shadow –– because free throws really are important no matter how smoothly you try to make it a non-issue.
- UCLA and Ben Howland need to take some time to get out of the California sun and realize how hideous their uniforms looked this season with the rogue, non-matching “C” on the front of their jerseys. FYI: it’s why they lost.
- Math: One incredible final game more than makes up the deficit that emerged after two blowout semifinal games.
- What a game! That should be enough to talk about by itself.
For a parting gift, The Shot: