I still can’t believe Kansas beat North Carolina the way it did, and from watching ESPN and talking to friends, the feeling seems to be mutual.
The same can be said for much of the talk surrounding Memphis and how easily it dismantled UCLA in the second half on Saturday.
You would think, then, after those two performances, that we’d get a really good NCAA championship game. Here is what one man saw in following the title game on Monday night:
A few random thoughts: Why would a coach allow a camera into the locker room to broadcast his pregame speech to his team before the biggest game of all their lives? Anybody else willing to bet this isn’t the “real” speech he gives his team? … Why does Jim Nantz do the stadium’s team introductions? Is this part of the CBS TV deal? … How about those goofy “team intros” played right before Nantz does the names? “We are Memphis.” You will be embarrassed when you see it. … If Kansas plays terribly and gets blown out, I won’t sleep tonight. Hurry, somebody tell Lawson and Hansbrough they’d be second-round picks.
15:36 A 9-5 start for Memphis, getting a pretty three-point play from Derrick Rose. Billy Packer nailed this early — Kansas’ Russell Robinson was forcing Rose away from his right, trying to make him go left, and Rose put it on the deck, stepped back and drilled a slippery jumper and got the foul. Silky.
12:05 Memphis is ahead, but a bit in trouble. Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart just picked up their second fouls on the same possession. A lot is going to be put on Joey Dorsey’s shoulders now.
9:56 Mario Chalmers nails down a 3-pointer, and all of a sudden Kansas is on a 15-4 run, looking much more controlled than it did in the opening 5 minutes.
What’s surprising is how much Rose is giving the ball up. He’s gone away from trying to make things happen, not even dribble-penetrating, and the Tigers’ offense is sluggish.
7:25 Now this is starting to look like the game we thought it could be. Kansas took a seven-point lead, but Memphis rained a couple of 3s while the Jayhawks were running and burning the Tigers. Back-and-forth, up-and-down the floor, and it’s Kansas by three, 24-21.
6:22 Here comes Memphis. Dorsey gets a huge block on Sasha Kaun and Rose gets an unbelievable offensive board on the other end down by the baseline, calms himself, turns, jumps and fires back to an open Chris Douglas-Roberts, who drills a 3. It’s an 11-2 spurt, 26-25, Memphis.
3:50 They’re throwing haymakers at each other. 28-all. Two ridiculously athletic teams. I know Douglas-Roberts is having a game, with 13 points already, but I’m still wondering whether Memphis is going to start running through Rose anytime soon. The kid makes plays. Let him.
This game, so far, is being decided by Kansas’ big men. Yes, Chalmers and Rush are scoring the ball, but it’s the Jayhawks’ frontcourt that’s winning this game. The rotation of Kaun, Darrell Arthur — who does lead the team with 10 points — Cole Aldrich and Darnell Jackson just keeps coming at Memphis in waves. Kansas holds a 17-11 rebounding edge and has Memphis in all sorts of foul trouble, as Dorsey picked up his second just before the half.
Also, Rose is doing nothing. I thought Ty Lawson looked horrible on Saturday night, but I thought a lot of that had to do with Kansas’ guards being fast enough to keep him from turning the corner, staying with Lawson long enough to slow his drives to the rim and giving the Kansas big men time to come over and block his shot from the weak side.
Well, Collins and Robinson — and Chalmers, to a degree in the passing lanes — are frustrating Rose just the same. They are quick enough to stay with him, and when the screen comes at the top of the offense, again the Kansas bigs are contributing, stepping out on the rolls to hem Rose in and force him to give up the ball.
It’s only a five-point game, 33-28, and Memphis should be thrilled with that. Take away Douglas-Roberts’ scoring binge in the 11-2 run midway through the half, though, and the Jayhawks would be working on another blowout.
The first 5 minutes of the second half are going to be big.
And one more thing, Roy Williams is wearing a Kansas sticker on his shirt. I don’t know how I feel about that as a North Carolina fan.
But I can only imagine what Kansas fans think of that.
18:02 Big start by Memphis. Rose starts it by getting Dozier an easy dunk, and then Antonio Anderson buries a 3 and then gets a three-point play. All of a sudden, the Tigers lead 36-35.
A big first 2 minutes, it turns out.
15:15 Rose gets off another pretty feed to Dorsey for a dunk, but Dorsey later picks up his third foul. And Chalmers and Robinson — along with Collins — must have the best hands in all of college basketball. Kansas slaps the ball away from a penetrating guard like no other team in the country. 39-38, Kansas.
12:33 It’s going to hurt to say this, but Packer is right again. First, Rose is making himself too easy to guard. Secondly, Memphis should try a zone, pack it in and see how Kansas reacts to it. Jackson just hurt the Tigers inside twice in the last few minutes, and the Jayhawks continue to control the paint. A zone would also help with a glaring rebounding advantage in favor of Kansas.
Of course, if you play man-to-man all the time and rarely work on a zone, it probably doesn’t help to try something in the title game which you know you aren’t very good at. And besides, Memphis is still well within the game, down just 43-42.
But the signs are there for Kansas to win. The same can’t be said for Memphis.
8:08 Here comes Rose. He had a dribble-drive earlier and now a 3, and Memphis leads 49-47.
It took Packer four possessions before he realized Kansas moved to a box-and-one defense, with Chalmers guarding Douglas-Roberts, and I’m not sure it’s a good move for Kansas.
A box-and-one leaves the lane pretty open, and the Tigers have gotten a layup and a runner inside since the switch. Also, with the two guards spread out on the key, Rose found himself open for the 3 at the top of the circle. And if they stay with this, the Jayhawks will lose their edge in rebounding. Interesting move, especially when you’re trying to take away a guy who has two points since halftime.
7:47 Rose with a runner. Memphis has scored on four of the five possessions against the box-and-one.
And Rose is taking over. 51-47, Memphis.
5:10 Timeout, Kansas. The Jayhawks have gotten away from pounding it inside and Memphis is coming on. Dozier gets a big offensive rebound and dishes to Rose, who double-pumps, gets fouled and hits it. He makes the foul shot, and it’s 54-47, Tigers.
4:14 Nantz put it best — “There’s the shot of the tournament.” Any doubt who made it? Falling away, the shot clock under 1, it seemed, and Rose banks in a 3 from the wing. 57-49, and if Memphis can make a few foul shots, this one could be over.
And Rose? That gives him 18 points for the game, 15 in the second half. Big-time performance.
3:49 Rose’s shot was reviewed, and it’s a 2-point shot, not a 3. Make that 56-49.
2:13 Biiiiiiiiiiiigggggggg block by Dozier on a drive by Collins. Kansas, though is going to make Memphis win this from the foul line.
Now we will see if the Tigers have exorcised their foul shot demons from the regular season.
Dozier makes both, and it’s 60-51. Is that it?
1:54 OK, here’s why we all hate Packer. His team in desperate trouble, Arthur makes a 17-footer to make it 60-53, and Packer says that it’s the worst shot you can have at this time. A step back and it’s a 3. You know, Kansas needed ANYTHING at this point. The Jayhawks will take it.
1:47 Oh, wow. Collins steals the inbounds pass, and then gets a look at 3 — and nails it. It’s down to four, 60-56.
1:39 Douglas-Roberts coolly makes them. Back to a six-point game.
1:23 Dorsey commits a foul on Chalmers 25 feet from the basket and fouls out. Bad play there.
Chalmers makes both ends of the 1-and-1, and it’s back to four.
1:15 Douglas-Roberts misses the front-end…
1:00 Arthur with a turnaround that rattles around and falls. 62-60. A 9-2 run by Kansas.
31.3 seconds Rose’s drive is blocked out of bounds, giving Memphis the ball back with 7 seconds left on the shot clock.
24.2 Douglas-Roberts’ drive is stalled, and Kansas has the board. The Jayhawks outlet to Collins, who’s going to the hole and …
16.8 Blocked! Memphis outlets ahead to CDR, who’s fouled. Why didn’t he bring that back out and run some clock?
And CDR misses BOTH!
10.8 But Dozier gets the rebound and Rose is fouled.
But he misses the first one, and makes the second, giving Kansas a chance down by three.
2.1 Memphis should foul. Memphis sould foul. Hello? MEMPHIS SHOULD FOUL!
Nope. Chalmers, with a hand in his face … GOOD! Tie game. Tie game. Tie game. 63-63.
Buzzer Dozier misses from halfcourt, and we’re going to overtime.
5:00 How big is that point the video replay took away?
4:29 Steal by Kansas and Rush scores on the other end. 65-63, Kansas. It’s a 14-3 run. Wow.
Timeout, Memphis. Remember, the Tigers are without Dorsey, and Kansas is cleaning the boards again. And the monkey is back squarely on their backs — the Tigers have missed four of their last five foul shots.
3:38 Dunk by Arthur, who is making himself a lot of NBA money tonight.
2:39 And with no Dorsey inside, Kansas is again controlling the boards and getting inside. Arthur gets a feed from Chalmers, then wraps around a dish to Jackson for a layup. It’s an 18-3 run and a six-point edge for Kansas. 69-63.
2:24 Douglas-Roberts makes two foul shots (“Now you freaking make ’em,” Memphis fans say), and good defense by the Tigers gives them another shot.
56.8 seconds A wild sequence finally finishes with CDR burying a 3 to make it 71-68. Memphis isn’t out of this yet, even if that was its first field goal in almost 7 minutes.
Memphis doesn’t have to foul though. A stop will get the Tigers the ball back.
45.1 Why the foul? Why? Why? Chalmers is fouled by CDR with 24 seconds left on the shot clock. Huh?
Chalmers makes both. 73-68. Now it’s a two-possession game again.
29.9 Douglas-Roberts misses the layup, and Taggart, who had the ball for a second, can’t hold on. It’s tied up and it’s Kansas ball. Got to foul now.
28.3 AND KANSAS TURNS IT OVER!
24.2 seconds CDR’s 3 doesn’t go. Kansas rebound. This should do it.
No way Kansas should’ve won this game. Twenty years ago, it was Danny and the Miracles. And with Danny Manning on the bench as an assistant coach, Kansas made another miracle happen.