Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Patrick Ewing. The Big Fella was formaly named into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday. He was a first-ballot inductee along with Akeem the Dream and Pat Riley. The induction ceremony will be at the Hall (in Springfield, MA) in September. I'll be there. And, there will be more to come on Patrick's selection. But in the meantime here's what my Captain had to say:

2. The Kansas Jayhawks. They won. They are the champions. My friend. They were the deepest team all year. They were ranked #4 in the preseason, rising as high as #2 and falling (for one week) as far as #6 before entering the tournament back in the 4 spot. They were darn good all year long even if they were uninspiring at times. you can't It was a weird game watching experience, for me. I went in feeling mostly neutral but slightly leaning towards Memphis because of my infatuation with Derrick Rose. I hadn't bet on the winner of the game and had only taken some props, the under (at 148), that less than 15 players would score, that more than 6.5 players would score 10 points or more and that Rose would make 5 or more free throws. And, it was that last bet that proved to be my only loss on the night as well as the most telling stat perhaps of the game. Although Rose only missed one free-throw (going 3 for 4) and wouldn't have won my bet had he hit it, it was that single miss that opened the door for Chalmers' miraculous OT-forcing three-pointer at the end of regulation. It was a great shot. One that seems destined for highlight packages that we'll see for the rest of our lives. Still, the ending seemed almost anticlimactic, given the way Kansas rolled in the extra session.

3. Bill Self. Going to the box-and-one when it became clear that Rose was not a threat was the best way to stop Douglas-Roberts and it was a savvy move by Self. Not only did he have to recognize, in the heat of the shining moment, that Rose wasn't himself but he also had to have the confidence in that belief to gear his whole defense with no concern for the best player on the floor. It worked. He won. Even though Rose eventually woke up and shot the Jayhawks out of that scheme. With the title won and his obligation to fans in Lawrence nominally fulfilled, does he head to Stillwater, OK? Does he leave on a high note and take the gazillion million dollars from his alma matter?

4. Derrick Rose. In a losing effort he still shone brighter than everyone else on the court. In spite of stretch's of fearful, timid play he still looked most fearless at stretches. It was actually amazing to watch him learn how to play against Kansas as the game went on. Early in the second half he was passing on his shot and he was letting Robinson and Chalmers get their paws on the ball almost as soon as he crossed the equator. And, then it sort of clicked for him that he was light years faster than everyone else. He started darting past them, either heading to the rim or, more likely, dishing the ball to an open teammate. Once he realized that this was really just another game (for those actually on the floor) he went back to the dribble-drive offense that he suits him perfectly and started delivering the ball to open Tigers once the triple-team came. He should have hit the front free throw to ice the game. He should have. But he was still the best player in the game. And the only player fueled only by Gummy Bears and Fun Dip. He's just got to be in a Knicks uniform next year.

5. Chris Paul. It feels like the wider world has realized that CP3 is the Most Valuable Player of the 2007-2008 NBA season. Lebron is out of the picture. KG seems to have lost some of the spotlight since Paul Pierce may actually be the best (but not most valuable) player on that team. So, we're down to Kobe and Chris. And, Chris is doing more (winning conference) with less (Gasol and Bynum > Chandler and West). CP3 put up another triple-double on Sunday against Golden State and has his team 1.5 games clear of both San Antonio and Los Angeles. We're getting to the point where I'd almost be more surprised if he didn't win.

Benched. College b-ball referees. I've got to say that I thought the whistles tilted heavily in Kansas' favor last night. I'd like to think that this is an honest appraisal and not just the opinion of someone who was pulling for Memphis by the midpoint of the second half. But, I'm not 100% sure about that. In any case, it seemed to me that the Tigers were not getting the benefit of any away from the ball calls and were not even getting anything called in their favor that wasn't a blatant Kansas foul on a scoring-chance. And, while Kansas wasn't parading to the charity stripe they seemed to have much more protection on the ball and on the glass from the zebras. I think that Memphis and Coach Cal have such an unlikeable reputation that they don't get the benefit of the doubt. Of course, this comes at the end of a season when myriad officiating blunders occurred and generally occurred in the favor of more well-liked teams, see UCLA.

1 comment:

fatman said...

As an avid daily reader I would prefer forewarning the next time WWOD intends on taking a four day haitus so that I may be prepared with alternative reading materials...Mets Blow, hard.