WSU HOOPS

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And the winners are …

Posted by Jeff Nusser on April 8, 2008

Congratulations to Morgan Knows and CliftonParkNYInterloper, the winners of our inaugural WSU HOOPS Bracket Challenge! Each scored 133 points out of a possible 192, capped off when Kansas won the championship last night.

That’s pretty darn awesome if you ask me, especially since I could only muster 87 points, good for ninth place. But I take solace in the fact that I did beat Jo~Jo, who finished 15th with 75 points.

What doomed me, ultimately, were two things.

First, when I filled out my bracket, I didn’t totally believe what I had pretty much believed all year: That Kansas was the most complete team in the country. They just had too many head-scratching performances for my liking, but in the end, good Kansas was able to overcome bad Kansas for enough of the time to win the championship.

Second, I had spent the better part of the year completely convinced — and telling anyone who would listen — that there was no way Memphis could win a national championship because their free throw shooting would be a problem at some point. Heck, you can tell by looking at my bracket that I was convinced they couldn’t even get deep in the tournament because of it.

Then, the Tigers started making all their free throws, and I was completely convinced that I was totally wrong about them, and heading into last night I was sure they were going to beat Kansas — which appeared to be true for 38 minutes.

Of course, we wouldn’t even be talking about Memphis’ free throw shooting if Kansas hadn’t played lights out for those final two minutes and Mario Chalmers doesn’t hit the miracle shot of his life. (Although, to be fair, the guy is a 46.7 percent 3-point shooter who was able to get square to the basket, so I’m not sure “miracle” is entirely accurate.)

And I guess that’s what bums me out about this morning. That game was incredible, but I feel absolutely awful for Memphis, which had the game in its grasp. Because of that, people are saying the Tigers collapsed. I don’t see it that way. Kansas has showed over and over this year that when it is hitting on all cylinders, it’s easily the best team in the country — just ask North Carolina. And after sputtering for the middle part of the second half, the Jayhawks started clicking once again, and not even the awesome defense of Memphis could withstand the onslaught.

So give credit where credit is due this morning, and resist the urge to use words like “choke” and “collapse.” Even if Memphis could have done more to win the game, Kansas took it.

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3 Responses to “And the winners are …”

  1. TiltingRight said

    Actually, if I were to BLAME anyone for the loss, it’d be Calipari (sp?) for not calling a TO and telling his guys what he expects for the last 10 seconds or so. He had TWO of them… WTF?

  2. drpezz said

    I know I’ll get blasted for this, but I saw two major goofs by Calipari besides the lack of a timeout called to close the game.

    1) Why did he completely gas his team? They hit a wall and it showed. Timeouts could’ve helped, but using the bench more at strategic times can turn :25-:35 of game time into 3-5 minutes of real time.

    2) More importantly, I felt that with :10 left and a three point lead (and coaches never do this!), play hard man to man defense to the half-court line and then foul. Two shots at the line means two points max. I used to do this when coaching, and it worked well.

    If a free throw is missed on purpose, then Memphis rebounds and gets fouled and forces Kansas to travel the full-length of the court with maybe 5 seconds left to create a more desperate attempt. If the free throws are made, Memphis still gets fouled and the scenario is the same.

    Kansas was the deepest team in the tourney, and it showed. That final surge was amazing!

  3. Grady said

    “2) More importantly, I felt that with :10 left and a three point lead (and coaches never do this!), play hard man to man defense to the half-court line and then foul. Two shots at the line means two points max. I used to do this when coaching, and it worked well.”

    I agree with you 100%. The funny thing is the Bennetts actually don’t like this strategy, and it has hurt the Cougs on a couple of occasions. UCLA in 2005 comes to mind when they didn’t foul with under 10 seconds left and a 3 point lead. Bad defense gave Dijon Thompson a wide open three, and he buried it. The Cougs lost in OT.

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