Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
4/08/2008 10:18:00 AM
Musing On A Miracle ... And A Top 10 for 2008-09
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
SAN ANTONIO -- The hoops world is not ready to move on from Mario's Miracle just yet. It's unlikely that anyone packing up and leaving Alamo-land this morning -- from the media to the Kansas and Memphis contingents -- can get Monday night's drama out of their heads.
I'm just a greenhorn at this Final Four business (2008 was my fourth at SI), but I think this was a title-game finish for the ages, this decade's closest answer to the Keith Smart shot that stunned Syracuse when I was just 6 years old. There are certain things from Monday's finish that I'll forever remember: my vantage point on Mario Chalmers' three, from two rows back and to the left of Packer & Nantz; standing next to Chalmers and his mother, Almarie, as they embraced courtside; listening to Ronnie Chalmers in the Kansas locker room as he recounted sitting with Mario in the Alamodome at the 2004 Final Four, and how his son said that he would be playing for a championship some day. After watching two straight Final Fours full of blowouts, this was the payoff, the long-awaited shining moment.
The image in my head of Chalmers' shot is vivid enough to still give me goosebumps at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. And perhaps that's why I'm stuck on it; because any picture I try to form of next season is incredibly unclear. There's a chance that the Jayhawks could lose their entire starting five: Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson are graduating, Brandon Rush is going pro, Darrell Arthur is leaning that way, and even the miracle man -- who wasn't thought to be potential early draft entrant as of last week -- is considering making the jump to the NBA.
If Chalmers were to return for his senior season, though, he could lead the Revenge of the Upperclassmen. The second straight tidal wave of one-and-done freshmen -- from Memphis' Derrick Rose, to UCLA's Kevin Love, to Kansas State's Michael Beasley -- are uniformly expected to enter June's draft. For the past two seasons one could scan a list of top recruits and envision how the college hoops landscape would soon be altered. Last April one could see that Love would boost the Bruins and Rose would take Memphis over the top, and I ran a top 10 in the magazine that nailed the '08 Final Four. As much as I'd like to pat myself on the back, those were not difficult predictions.
Examine the incoming recruits for '08, though, and you'll see that there is no truly transcendent rookie on the horizon. There are a few good ones -- such as McDonald's All-American game MVP Tyreke Evans, who might soon be bound for Memphis or Villanova, and Jrue Holiday, who should fill UCLA's expected backcourt vacancy -- but there is no Greg Oden or Derrick Rose. Teams will rely on upperclassmen to save them. Perhaps Super Mario can come to the rescue once again? And if not him, what about North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, Texas' D.J. Augustin, UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, UCLA's Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook, and West Virginia's Joe Alexander? Their pro decisions will matter more than anyone else's.
In writing a top 10 for next season so early (a practice we can mutually acknowledge the absurdity of, but at the same time admit that we're reasonably interested in) it's necessary to make a few educated guesses. And so on top of the players who have already declared, I'm assuming there will be a few more. Among them: Memphis' Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, Kansas State's Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, UCLA's Love and Collison, Kansas' Arthur, USC's O.J. Mayo and Texas' Augustin.
Everything will fall into place over the next three weeks. Until then, this is my best assessment:
1. NORTH CAROLINA - Will leaving San Antonio empty-handed inspire key Tar Heels to stay for another season? Hansbrough could become the first back-to-back Naismith Award winner since Ralph Sampson’s three-peat (1981–83) -- and along with Lawson, make another run at the title. If Ty takes off for the NBA, leaving UNC to make do with senior-to-be Bobby Frasor and incoming recruit Larry Drew at point guard, that championship will be more difficult to attain.
2. UCONN - The 87-inch question in Storrs is: Will Big East defensive player of the year Hasheem Thabeet (147 blocks) return and make the Huskies a title contender? Point guard A.J. Price (torn left ACL) is expected back for the ’08 opener.
3. UCLA - The next wave of Bruins backcourt stars -- led by polished combo guard Jrue Holiday -- arrives as part of Rivals.com's No. 2–ranked recruiting class. The pairing of Holiday with Russell Westbrook should keep UCLA atop the Pac-10.
4. PURDUE - Big Ten hegemony could begin here for coach Matt Painter, whose precocious band of underclassmen -- led by freshman guards (and former AAU teammates) E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel -- came within one win of a conference title in ’08.
5. KANSAS - Senior All-Americas are a dying breed, but KU should have one in point guard Mario Chalmers -- plus a breakout star in Sherron Collins, who finished an injury-riddled season with a superb performance off the bench in the title game.
6. TEXAS - The Horns have nearly every piece of the championship puzzle: a three-point marksman (A.J. Abrams), a glue guy (Justin Mason), two versatile forwards (Damion James and Connor Atchley) ... but no tested point guard if Augustin bolts.
7. WEST VIRGINIA - If late-season sensation Alexander, a 6-foot-8 forward, sticks around for his senior year and teams up with top recruit Kevin Jones, a 6-7 forward, the Mountaineers will have a potent one-two punch in the frontcourt.
8. GEORGETOWN - Greg Monroe is no Greg Oden, but the 6-10 forward from Harvey, La., is the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2008 and will help fill the void left by center Roy Hibbert's graduation. Look for unsung point guard Jessie Sapp to emerge as the Hoyas' MVP.
9. DUKE - The Blue Devils lose DeMarcus Nelson (graduation) and Taylor King (transfer) -- and Mike Krzyzewski could tire after coaching the U.S. team in Beijing -- but the nucleus for a Final Four team, including versatile forwards Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson, remains.
10. TENNESSEE - Junior-to-be forward Tyler Smith has All-America potential, but landing a five-star recruit --shooting guard Scotty Hopson -- on April 1 was huge for the Vols, who need scoring power after losing seniors Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.
The rest of the top 30: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, USC, Ohio State, Syracuse, Memphis, Florida, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Davidson, Marquette, Villanova, Baylor, Gonzaga, BYU, Wisconsin, Xavier, Louisville, Clemson.
SAN ANTONIO -- Sherron Collins was slipping, losing control of the ball with no whistle to save him, in much the same way Kansas had nearly let the national championship game slip out of reach two minutes earlier, falling behind Memphis 60-51 with 2:12 to go. But this was the denouement of a miracle rescue, and just like his Jayhawks, who had whittled the Tigers' lead to 63-60 on the final possession of regulation, Collins recovered, keeping hope alive. The play-call was "Chops," and Collins found a way to hand the ball off to Mario Chalmers on the right wing, with the final seconds ticking away. Collins turned to watch Chalmers fly toward the top of the key and launch a high-arching three-pointer, with overtime -- and the title -- hanging in the balance.
Athletes often struggle to do justice, in words, to the way they've awed a stadium full of 43,257 fans, or sent a nation of NCAA tournament viewers flying off their couches, and all Chalmers said of what he did with 2.1 seconds left at the Alamodome was that it was "a lucky shot." It barely eluded the outstretched right arm of Memphis freshman Derrick Rose, who was, until that moment, well on his way to becoming the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Until that moment, the thought in Tigers coach John Calipari's head was that "we were the national champs."
The ball took what Collins said seemed "like five seconds" in the air, perfectly rotating, and Brandon Rush, who had positioned himself near the basket in the event of a tip, looked up at the net and "saw it splash right in there." Never mind that Chalmers lacked appropriate verbiage to describe what he had done -- tie the game and kill Memphis' spirit going into a one-sided overtime that finished 75-68, and make possible KU's first national title since 1988 -- because coach Bill Self did.
"It will probably be," said Self, "the biggest shot ever made in Kansas history."
Mario Chalmers (center) racked up 18 points, three rebounds and three assists and earned MOP honors.
Not even Danny and the Miracles, the last Jayhawks to cut down the nets (as a No. 6 seed) needed a shot like Chalmers' in their finale. Twenty years later, Danny Manning had a prime view of the Mario Miracle, as the assistant coach who had prepared the team's scouting report of Memphis for the title game. Ed Hightower, one of the refs from '88, was working the floor the floor again in '08, and while Manning said he was thinking "deja vu" when Chalmers launched it, the reason was not Hightower. Chalmers had hit the exact same shot -- on the same play -- to take Texas to overtime in last season's Big 12 tournament. "When this shot went in," said Manning of Monday night's three, "it gave us unbelievable energy, and we were able to roll in OT."
The Jayhawks went on a 6-0 run in the first 2:22 of overtime to bury Memphis' championship dreams. The Tigers looked shell-shocked in OT. Wouldn't you, if you were up nine with just over two minutes left, and watched it evaporate in some kind of sick nightmare? As Calipari said, "You have a lead like that, you're supposed to win the game."
What happened, then? How does one explain this breathtaking finish? If you listen to Chalmers' father, Ronnie, who happens to be KU's director of basketball operations, the sequence of events was nothing short of divine intervention.
Inside the left breast-pocket of Ronnie's suit on Monday night was a small scrap of white paper, a verse of scripture written on each side in pen. He took it out when Memphis' Robert Dozier was at the charity stripe, hitting the first of two free-throws that would put the Tigers up 60-51. On Kansas' bench, Ronnie silently read Psalm 46:1 to himself:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Perfect, thought Ronnie, because "we were in trouble at the time."
That nine-point lead that Memphis held seemed insurmountable; even Darnell Jackson, one of the steady seniors who helped KU win the rebounding war, 39-28, admitted that "a lot of us thought the game was over." Self, who gave his troops the message "You've just gotta believe" during late timeouts, admitted that he almost didn't believe it himself. "But I never thought it was dead," he said. "I never did. But I knew it didn't look very good."
So how do you claw back against a Memphis team that had blown away its last two opponents -- including another No. 1 seed, UCLA -- by simply running them off the floor in the second half? Or as Rose had described it, by "just hoopin'" better than any other team in the tournament?
The answer: You slow the Tigers down. You put them on the free-throw line, the area of their greatest weakness, in the final two minutes. Memphis had come into the dance as the nation's fourth-worst free-throw shooting team, but had hit 20-of-23 against the Bruins. So you foul in hopes that the percentages even out. You foul in hopes that this line, which Calipari had uttered in the previous day's press conference, would come back to haunt him:
"I think I have mentally tough kids. If they're relaxed, they're going to make free throws. A kid that's not mentally tough that shoots 90 percent, knees knocking, he's missing it. Percentage doesn't matter. And we've got tough kids."
And then you watch, as Chris Douglas-Roberts, who hit 9-of-11 free throws against UCLA, but was a 71.2 percent shooter from the stripe on the season, misses the front end of a one-and-one. There's 1:15 remaining, and you get the ball to Darrell Arthur for a jumper that cuts it to 62-60. You watch as Douglas-Roberts misses two more free throws with 16.8 seconds left, but Dozier gets an offensive rebound, and you have to send Rose back to the line with 10.8 on the clock.
He misses the first but makes the second. The score is 63-60. If you're Collins, you think to yourself, "Now I know we have chance."
Ronnie Chalmers had two scriptures in his pocket, if you recall. The second was from Psalms 46:10 -- Be still, and know that I am God -- and he read that one, too, at the start of the comeback. But even Ronnie had his doubts when he saw Collins make the handoff, and then witnessed his son let go the biggest shot in KU history. At first, Ronnie said, "I didn't really think he got a good look at it."
But just as Rush did from near the hoop, and Collins from the wing, and Mario, falling back from the top of the key, Ronnie then saw that the aim was true. He had sat with Mario for the 2004 Final Four in this very arena, as spectators for UConn's title run, and his son had said that one day he would be playing for a national championship. Mario's shot made Kansas' title possible, and Ronnie, when he watched it go in, simply said, "Thank God. Thank God."
Soon after the buzzer sounded, Mario ran off one end of the court to find his mother, Almarie, and locked her in a tight embrace. "We did it, mom, we did it," he said, with tears streaming down his face, and his freshly donned championship hat turned askew. After Mario let go, Almarie said that she had seen Mario do this before -- the game against Texas in 2007 -- and knew it could happen again. "When it hit the bottom of the net," she said, "I breathed."
Manning, the architect of Kansas' two-decades-old title run, stood with the team on the podium after the game, watching as One Shining Moment played out on the Alamodome's video boards. Almarie was on the floor, singing along, and eventually came footage of Mario's shot: the play of this tournament, one of the greatest shots in the history of the tournament, and the latest Jayhawk miracle. As Manning, the proud coach, raptly gazed at the montage, it looked as if he, like Mario, might have tears in his eyes.
"It was a beautiful video," Manning would say later. "Just a beautiful video."
SAN ANTONIO -- All hail our Tourney Blog Pool champ, Karen Kraus, who roots for Missouri but rode Kansas to the top of our 5,490-bracket field. The main prize of our Facebook pool -- aside from the high-fashion Final Four belt buckle that was pictured yesterday -- is wordwide blog fame, so we reintroduce you to Karen below:
2008 Tourney Blog Winner Karen Kraus, 24, Columbia, Mo. School: University of Missouri/Public Health Masters program Team: "I root for MU now, as I have for my entire life." Bracket Philosophy: "It drives people who put a lot of thought into their brackets crazy: I generally pick by ranking as I do not follow any teams except MU. I probably spent less than a minute on my bracket. I do it this way every year, and the strategy [if you even want to call it that] tends to work well although I have never won a pool."
That's right, folks; she spent less than a minute on her bracket. And she beat every one of you.
Rounding out the top 10 were: Elliot Chan (a UC-Berkeley student who was alone in second place), Charlie Stavlo, Doug Pellatz, Craig Giovannetti, Cody Nilson, Kevin Gossen, Jonathan Flaugher, Michael Hess, Darrell Schulz, Adam Riggs, Derrick Anderson and Jeff Coverdale. Thanks to all for playing, and thanks to most of you for beating me in the standings. I finished 2,544th. The full standings are here.
SAN ANTONIO -- A last look outside the Alamodome, 90 minutes before tipoff ...
Scalpers -- despite the strong market for tickets -- have gone mostly underground this week. The ducat below was an upper-level seat with a face value of $85; the seller, a Kansas fan, wanted $350. This clash of titans might just be worth that much.
Kansas -- mostly due to Bill Self's superstitious nature -- resisted switching locker rooms for the title game. The Jayhawks and Memphis were side-by-side in the bowels of the Alamodome for the Final Four, and the NCAA wanted to spread them apart, offering KU the digs previously occupied by UCLA. Is the locker room the Jayhawks' lucky charm?
I took Memphis this morning, and I'm sticking with it. Tigers 70, Jayhawks 66. Add your predictions -- and game chatter -- in the comments section.
SAN ANTONIO -- The final day is finally upon us. We've broken down five reasons why Memphis will win (that's from me) and five reasons why Kansas will win (that's from Stew Mandel). Our cadre of anonymous assistant coaches have given you the "books" on Derrick Rose and Brandon Rush, as well as full scouting reports of the Tigers and the Jayhawks. What, then, is possibly left to present? My last five things:
5. Derrick Rose does not eat as well as he plays. Memphis' MVP bailed out of Sunday's press conference before it even started, citing an upset stomach, and was absent from all interview sessions. To hear Joey Dorsey explain it, the reason might be that Rose rarely consumes a thing at team meals. Apparently coach John Calipari caught Rose trying to avoid eating any pasta after Saturday night's game, so, Dorsey said, "Coach went over and made a plate full of pasta and macaroni and put it in front of him. ... But he didn't eat it, he just played in it. He mixed the food around and spread it out, and he left, and coach [thought] he ate something."
He just played in it. Like a 5-year-old rather than a 19-year-old. If the Tigers were to move their buffet to a candy store, though, Rose would be fine. "He eats Gummy Bears and Starburst for breakfast, and Twizzlers and Honey Buns for dinner. That's why his stomach hurts," Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "We tell Derrick the whole year, 'Stop eating so many Gummy Bears and Sour Straws.' But he can't."
Part of me still wonders if Rose wasn't just trying to get a free pass out of the media availability time. He legitimately hates talking about himself -- hence this "Oh, sh--" slip during Saturday's press conference -- and must have been dreading the idea of sitting alone in a breakout room (each Final Four starter had his own presser on Sunday) for 30 minutes. I asked Dorsey whether Rose was faking, and he started laughing and said, "I can't talk about that." Then Dorsey went up to Memphis sports information director Lamar Chance and tried to feign a stomach ache, in hopes of avoiding an interview for CBS.
4. As much as Memphis seems to be on a mission, you wonder if the basketball fates haven't preordained a big title-game performance for Brandon Rush. He was devastated by an offseason ACL injury that kept him out of the NBA draft, but this Final Four trip has been the reward for returning for his junior year and becoming an aggressive scorer late in the season. "I've finally got it in my head that people want me to shoot the ball more," he said. "So I decided to shoot the ball more."
Surely he would not be getting as many good looks if he were, say, a reserve on the Nets. "If I was an NBA rook, I probably wouldn't get any playing time," Rush said. "I'd probably be riding the bench, probably on a losing squad. So I'm happy right now." Understandably.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
3. Dorsey might have Dwight Howard on the brain Monday night. Memphis' Gift That Keeps On Giving said Sunday that his motivation for big rebounding games would sometimes come not from his opponent or his coach, but an NBA game he watched the night before. "During the season I would watch Marcus Camby or Dwight Howard to see how many rebounds they had on one night -- then I'd try to go out there and top them, like I was playing against a pro," Dorsey said. "That's what the game is called, 'Playing Against A Pro.' Camby would have 19 rebounds and one game I had 22 rebounds, so I was happy that I had overcome him."
Howard had 15 boards against the Knicks on Sunday, and Camby had 13 against Seattle. Can Joey get 16 -- one more than the 15 (and zero points) he had against UCLA -- and take them both down? This would surely please his coach, John Calipari, whom Joey said "is always on my back."
2. This title game was made for fans of the 'oop. "If we don't lead the country in lobs, then Memphis does," Kansas coach Bill Self said. The Tigers' Dribble-Drive Motion offense keeps Joey Dorsey on the weakside block as their guards penetrate, and whenever opposing big men step up to help, Joey soars up to catch an alley-oop. It's how they keep him happy. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, love to slip their screening forwards to the basket, where they're delivered lobs from Rush, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson. Put the over-under on 'oops at four.
1. Memphis takes basket-attacking to a whole 'nother level. After talking with Tigers assistant John Robic -- who said of the Dribble-Drive Motion philosophy, "We want to shoot a layup every time we touch the ball" -- I went and made composite images of Memphis' shot charts from the Elite Eight game against Texas and the Final Four game against UCLA. The charts show that while the Tigers are prone to launching a a few ill-advised three-point attempts in the first halves of games, when they take a lead into the homestretch, they truly do only look for layups and dunks.
Against Texas, Memphis took only three shots from outside the lane area (the three-second zone plus the blocks) in the second half:
And against UCLA, the Tigers took only four shots from outside the lane area in the second half:
This, folks, is what happens when you have Rose and Douglas-Roberts slashing past every perimeter defender. And it's also why Kansas might be willing to get away from its bread-and-butter man-to-man, and settle in to a 3-2 zone.
Tourney Bool Pool Update: A San Antonio Victory In San Antonio?
SAN ANTONIO -- And then there were two (poolsters left in the Third Annual Tourney Blog Pool, that is). Never mind what's at stake for Memphis and Kansas tonight at the Alamodome: The finalists in our 5,490-entrant competition have blog fame on the line. It doesn't get bigger than that.
I like how this has turned out: If the Jayhawks win, a Missouri student is our champ, even if she may not be allowed to celebrate that victory in Columbia. And if the Tigers win, a man with the last name San Antonio takes home the crown. It's almost as if he was pre-destined to be the Blog Pool victor. Meet our duo of expert bracketeers below:
Possible Pool Winner No. 1 (Kansas) Karen Kraus, 24, Columbia, Mo. School: University of Missouri/Public Health Masters program Team: "I root for MU now, as I have for my entire life." Bracket Philosophy: "It drives people who put a lot of thought into their brackets crazy: I generally pick by ranking as I do not follow any teams except MU. I probably spent less than a minute on my bracket. I do it this way every year, and the strategy [if you even want to call it that] tends to work well although I have never won a pool."
Possible Pool Winner No. 2 (Memphis) Kenny San Antonio, 23 Home: Providence, R.I. School: "Going back in the fall." Team: "Arizona." Bracket Philosophy: "Picking the teams that are good and that I seen play." Have You Ever Won A Pool Before? "Yes."
Our Top 10, as it stands going into Monday night: Kraus and San Antonio, 136; Elliot Chan, Brandan Still and Bryan Graham, 135; Ryan Turton, Collin Burks, Bryan Panhost, Charlie Stavio, 133; Doug Pellatz, 132. Congrats to all.
(As for your blogger, I'm in 2,400th place. The fact that I'm taking solace in being in the top 50 percent is sad.)
Prize Update: The prize is somewhat of a joke every year, but given that we had such a huge response to the Facebook pool, I feel like I have to step it up a notch. Therefore, both items of "swag" I collected here in San Antonio will be included in the winner's package. Those items (shown hovering over the city) are: a ridiculous Final Four belt buckle, and a basketball-leather-bound Wilson portfolio, with the Final Four logo on the front. Roll into your next job interview rocking the belt buckle and carrying your resume inside this folder and you'll make one heck of a first impression.
The Kansas defense pounced on loose balls all night against North Carolina.
SAN ANTONIO -- Breaking down a title game between the bluebloods and the Blues Machine that just can't be a blowout ...
(Right? Basketball gods, are you listening?)
10. If the score is something like 68-64 on Monday night, don't be shocked. As much as Kansas and Memphis are labeled up-tempo teams because of their race-horse athletes, the real trait they share is elite defense. Coming into the NCAA tournament Kansas had the third-most efficient defense in the country (at 0.836 points allowed per possession) ... and Memphis had the second-most efficient (at 0.824). Only Wisconsin, which ran into the Stephen Curry Steamroller in the Sweet 16, had been ranked higher in points allowed per possession at .817.
As for the "speed" of our two finalists, the Jayhawks ranked 98th in the nation in tempo at the outset of the tourney, and the Tigers ranked 74th. That's a far cry from North Carolina's game-pace, which ranked seventh. The point here: The evidence is stacked pretty highly against this game reaching the 80s.
9. Kansas' defense was record-books good on Saturday, holding North Carolina to just 0.831 points per possession in an 84-66 win. Alone, that stat means little to most of you, so here's some context. The Tar Heels' next-worst offensive performance all season was 0.930 PPP in a win over Ohio State in November. Even that figure, projected out over a 70-possession game, is seven points better than UNC's efficiency against the Jayhawks.
To find another instance of the Heels' offense being rendered that ineffective ... you have to go back to a loss at USC on Dec. 21, 2005, when UNC had just 0.748 PPP in a 74-59 loss. That was Tyler Hansbrough's eighth game at Carolina.
8. The best non-numerical way to sum up the Jayhawk D, from Carolina's Wayne Ellington: "They just came out, they jumped on us. They hit us between the eyes." Thus the 40-12 start.
7. As long as Memphis keeps the ball in the hands of Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose, free throws won't be a factor. The 12th-worst free-throw shooting team in the country -- tied with winless New Jersey Institute of Technology at 61.3 percent! -- had 23 attempts from the charity stripe against UCLA. The Tigers made 20 of them ... and every one was taken by either Derrick Rose (11-of-12) or Douglas-Roberts (9-of-11). Memphis coach John Calipari has long been espousing the theory that his team knocks them down when it counts. "Tough-minded players," he said, referring to his star guards, "will make free throws."
6. While we're on that free-throw subject ... it was first pointed out over at Basketball Prospectus that Memphis had a weird tournament identity for a team that was terrible at free-throws all season long: They've drawn fouls and got to the line at an absurd rate. The Tigers rank 186th nationally in free-throw rate -- calculated by made free-throws divided by field-goal attempts -- at 24.9 percent. Yet during the dance their free-throw rate has been off-the-charts high:
Rd. Opponent FT Rate Opp. FT Rate 1 UT-Arlington 64.8 38.2 2 Miss. State 50.8 33.3 S16 Mich. State 59.3 28.8 EE Texas 69.2 13.0 FF UCLA 35.9 20.3
5. Part of this is because Memphis has taken huge leads and forced teams (particularly the Spartans and Longhorns) to resort to hack-a-thons late in the game. But Calipari said their strategy, even against UCLA, was to get fouled. "We were trying to get our guys to beat people off the dribble, and not let them chest bump you," he said. "We tried to get by them, so if they pushed, it was a foul."
4. Another window into KU's defense from Roy Williams, explaining how the Heels were too flustered to stick to their game plan: "We talked about [how] we can't take quick shots. And we took quick shots. We talked about that you have to be strong with the ball. We let them take it away from us twice -- just reach in and take our ball. We talked about coming to meet the pass. We threw it to one of our post players inside. He just stood there. [Kansas'] guy came to meet it more than he did and got the ball. We said you can't dribble between two perimeter players because [KU] does a great job of getting back, getting their hands involved. We did that twice and lost it. We said if you're a post player, you have one dribble, that's it. Second or third play of the game, we have a post player that dribbles it the second time -- [and the] third time they're taking it to the other end."
Chris Douglas-Roberts has proven effective inside and outside the three-point line.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
3. Chris Douglas-Roberts is insanely effective from inside the arc. He's made 58.2 percent of his two-point attempts on the season, which would be a good percentage for a center. Check out how the trendsetter for the Floater Generation stacks up against Kansas' more perimeter-oriented guards:
Player 2-PT% 3-PT% C. Douglas-Roberts 58.2 41.7 Mario Chalmers 56.8 47.3 Russell Robinson 55.2 31.8 Sherron Collins 53.6 36.6 Brandon Rush 44.0 42.3
2. Joey Dorsey can make one-dimensional basketball look beautiful. There were three occasions this season where he had 15 or more rebounds but not a double-double, but Saturday's 15-board, zero-point effort was a thing of beauty. (Even though, as he said, Calipari was yelling at him "the whole time.")
Joey Dorsey's best one-dimensional games Date/Opponent Rebs Pts 1/30 vs. Houston 22 6 1/23 vs. Tulsa 19 2 4/5 vs. UCLA 15 0
1. Two overlooked reasons why I think this game can avoid an early-death proclamation from Billy Packer: Memphis won't be able to guard Kansas like it did UCLA, just focusing on two players (Darren Collison and Kevin Love) while sacrificing D on everyone else. The Jayhawks have enough weapons other than Chalmers and Rush to keep defenses honest. On the other side, I don't think there's a chance of Kansas getting off to another big early lead, either. The Tigers have been a killer first-half team over the past two weeks, because, as Rose says, they don't hold back. "We just come out and attack."
(And if you were looking for a prediction ... be patient. It's coming on Monday morning.)