Now that we are closing in on the 24-hour mark of last night sinking in, I thought we might be due for a few leftover thoughts on the national championship game and the surrounding hoopla. Feel free to dive in on any of the following topics:
1) Did anyone else catch the cleverly placed shot of Tubby Smith and Ben Howland shaking hands during “One Shining Moment?” The two were shown at the exact point when the lyrics “but time is short” sang out. In case you’ve been living under a rock, both coaches were fired shortly after the losses of their teams in this year’s tournament. Zing?
2) Everyone seemed especially thrilled with the nature of last night’s national championship. Often times national championships showcase teams playing a bit tight, or one team clearly being superior to the other. At other times, the defense from both teams is stifling, causing every posession to be an all out battle. Last night was a free flowing, offensively driven game. The first 5 minutes went by as fast as any 5 minutes I can remember all season long. The saying has always gone that “Defense wins championships,” but that simply wasn’t the case this year. Even though Louisville entered the tournament known for its smothering defense, both Louisville and Michigan experienced great stretches of success on offense last night.
If defense is not always the key, here are 2 things that do seem critically important:
a) Having AT LEAST one 3-point shooter— The 3-point shot is basketball’s great equalizer. The 3-point shot can spur a runaway lead, or be the tool used to erase a huge lead. Last night was the perfect example. Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock single handidly carried their teams at different points last night.
b) Having some semblance of a halfcourt offense— Rick Pitino said it in his post-game press conference and it’s true: you have to have a functional and productive halfcourt offense. Pitino admitted that Hancock was a huge reason why Louisville’s halfcourt offense became more effective late in the season. Even teams that love to run have to be able to execute in the halfcourt setting.
3) One of my favorite things happening last night on Twitter was when people retweeted old tweets from Spike Albrecht during the game. His tweet this morning was even better:
@KateUpton: hey saw you at the game last night, thanks for comign out! Hope to see you again ; )
I mean, why not? When is Spike Albrecht’s stock going to be any higher?
4) College basketball officiating is not good.
5) Can we finally do away with the whole “your fans aren’t classy” thing? Last year after Kentucky won the national championship, many Louisville fans took solace in making fun of the Big Blue Nation for things such as burning couches, setting fire to cars, etc. The catch phrase most often used was that “Kentucky fans have no class.” Last night, the celebrations in Louisville blew up the police scanners as well. Stabbings, trash bin fires, couch fires, etc.
Can we all please just agree that every single fan base has a few idiots and just call it a day? Alcohol + excitement + big groups = someone is going to do something embarrassing. Let’s not use it as a tool against one another, okay? Deal? Deal.
6) COACHING MATTERS. Just ask John Beilein or 1 of his 29 assistants shown huddled together at halftime. Somehow between the 30 of them, no one was able to realize that Michigan had not yet committed enough fouls to put Louisville in the bonus. As a result, Michigan spent 30 seconds of wasted time chasing around the ball before fouling the guy they wanted on the line– Gorgui Dieng. One problem. Michigan still had 1 foul to give. Beilein admitted after the game that he had no idea about the foul situation and that the clock management and fouling strategy would have been different. I don’t even put that on him. That’s what your assistant coaches are getting paid to do. How did no one know that? IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME? I know, I know. It’s a small detail. But those kinds of details can be the difference between a national championship and getting the 2nd most clips in “One Shining Moment.”
John Robic would have known. That’s all I’m saying.
7) Youth can win. At one point last night, Michigan had 5 freshmen on the court… and they were playing well. Kentucky has already proven that you can win a national championship with key contributions from a core group of freshmen. Michigan came within a few minutes of proving that last night as well. There isn’t a particular formula for what kind of make-up a team needs when it comes to veterans/youth in order to win. Kentucky and Louisville own the last 2 national championships and the make-up of both teams was quite different. If you want to devise a formula, start with good coaching and good playmakers.
8) Kentucky/Louisville > Duke/North Carolina … At least for now. Until proven otherwise…
*9*) Maybe next year Michigan. Nah, just kidding. That’ll be us.