I’m still reeling from what I’m going to call another disappointing Final Four. I always feel let down by the actual Final Four. In this year’s tournament there may not have been as many upsets, but there were more good games than I have ever seen. It was one of the best times to be a basketball fan. The games were so good, all you could do was sit and watch. You couldn’t even fight that funny tingling feeling in your gut (the one you used to get as a kid when sports really mattered). The Final Four was supposed to be the icing on the cake right?
Maybe it is the dome sites which provide an absolutely terrible atmosphere. Maybe it is all the rich people in the stands. Maybe it is the most un-exciting announcing duo in history. Maybe it is the fact that every year, the NCAA comes up with a disgusting floor design for the Final Four. But I couldn’t help but sit there, after all the excitement and great basketball that has been played this month, I could not help but feel let down.
Georgetown vs. Ohio State lost a lot of its luster and intrigue when the Monster they Call Oden was strolling to the bench with 17:19 left in the 1st half. Hibbert vs. Oden was effectively over for the rest of the first half. Everyone got caught up in Georgetown’s miraculous win over UNC, forgetting a few things.
- UNC gift-wrapped that game. You don’t shoot 14 threes in the last 10 minutes when you’re winning.
- Wallace hit the biggest shot of his career. He misses that shot they lose.
- Their guards are not good enough to win the championship. In the tournament you need great guard play to get it done. I couldn’t help on every possession late in the UNC game but wonder ‘so who is going to shoot?’
- They have no bench whatsoever.
When it came down to it, Hibbert and Oden cancelled each other out. Ohio State knew they had the better guards so they keyed in on the x-factor Jeff Green. So for Georgetown your top 2 threats have been neutralized. Wallace stepped up as much as he could dropping 19 and Sapp dropped 10. But they can only do so much. Their bench literally gave them nothing. 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 fouls. No points. For Ohio State, Mike Conley Jr. really stepped up to the plate like he has all year. It’s a shame that he is probably going to the L because it has been a joy to watch him play the game. He is better going right than some right-handers are. The man can shoot pullups from both arms. He gets them going. I knew Ohio State would win; I just thought it would be by more.
Florida/UCLA…I picked it all wrong. Being a Pac-10 guy I picked UCLA. I was convinced they would come in with the ultimate chip on the shoulder. How many times do you get a rematch with the team that eliminated you the year before in the tournament? I was truely convinced that Arron Afflalo would remember that the only reason he stayed was to get a title. Now he had the chance to beat the team who cost him it last year? Revenge; Kill Bill style.
Instead, he sauntered over to the bench early and often in the 1st half, playing only 5 minutes. Darren Collison was hassled from beginning to end shooting 3/14 on the day. Josh Shipp could get no help. Michael Roll couldn’t get hot. And unfortunately they don’t really have any bigs who can just flat out take the ball in the post and score. Mata, Mbah a Moute, Aboya, Keefe, they are all bruisers. Bangers who can rebound. I have seen the tape; all they want to do is set screens and get offensive rebounds. They can make moves if you give them angles…Florida was giving no angles. On film, there are possessions when Mata and Mbah a Moute just stand on the block, getting position and just waiting for that rebound. Now they have to score? It was too much. UCLA simply couldn’t recover from Arron laying an egg.
It is easy to hate Florida, but you have to give them their just due. They took a team that is built on defense and shot 53 percent on them. They got to the line 31 times and shot 40 percent from the three point line. Noah and Horford dominated the boards, out-rebounding the entire UCLA team by themselves 28-25 (Florida obliterated UCLA on the boards 42-25). Corey Brewer was lights out. 4-5 from three, took good shots and he got to the line. 19 points off 7 shots? Now that is efficiency Mr. Hollinger. 6 blocks by Florida to 0 by UCLA.
This is the most impressive stat to me; Florida was so good last night that they turned the ball over 16 times and still controlled the game. That’s 16 times that they did not shoot the ball and they were still up big in the 2nd half. UCLA only turned the ball over 3 times. That’s why stats simply do not tell you everything. If you had told me Saturday morning that UCLA was going to turn it over 3 times and Florida would turn it over 16 times I would laugh and call blowout.
I would’ve been right…just the other way around.
Before I get to the NC title game, it would be wrong of me to neglect the Women’s Final Four. Generally speaking, the women’s Final Four actually has more exciting games than the men’s Final Four. I’ve always found it interesting because the Men always have a better tournament with a disappointing end. The Women have a terrible tournament (it is rough to watch) but a great Final Four. I’m telling you, when the elite play each other the results are pretty good. Look at last year’s Final between Maryland and Duke. I had my whole floor watching the end of it. I’m truely interested in the Tennessee/UNC game. If you get a chance give it a peek.
Also on tap for today another Dallas/Phoenix classic. That could save the weekend.
Over on ESPN.com, Pat Forde says that Florda should be the real Fab Five. Never. There will never be another Fab Five that doesn’t include Webber, Rose, Howard and the-other-two-guys-that-no-one-can-remember-when-asked. Just thought I would share that with you.
Durant is staying, Oden is gone if they win the title.
Back to the NC game. I’m going with Ohio State (and not just for personal reasons). Horford and Noah are not going to dominate the boards like that, Brewer isn’t going to play like that again. This is the year of the Monster they call Oden and Mike Conley. Lewis won’t be going 1/8 tomorrow. It just feels like Florida played their best basketball last night. I feel like Dickie V right now for some reason with this paragraph. But I am asking the dear Lord, save me from having to see Noah smile. Please. I do not want to hear about Florida being one of the best college teams ever…because they are not.