Some quick thoughts from yesterday’s NCAA Championship game, which Kansas won 75-68 in overtime.
1. They say defense wins championships, but you can’t teach free throw defense. Kansas held Memphis to 20 percent shooting at the free throw line down the stretch, which opened the door for the Jayhawks’ comeback victory.
2. Every rose has its thorn and for Memphis freshman Derrick Rose, it was the Kansas defense, especially in the first half. Kansas’ length and athleticism kept Rose out of the paint and the scorebook for much of the first half, limiting the probable lottery pick’s impact.
3. I don’t have a problem with Roy Williams supporting Kansas, a school he coached for many years, even after they beat his North Carolina Tar Heels in the Final Four. But don’t you think he could have done better than that gaudy Jayhawks logo on that black shirt? It looked like he bought a giant sticker logo from the concessions stands and pasted it on.
4. This was almost a case of deja vu. Kansas fans surely recall the 2003 NCAA Championship when two missed free throws by Syracuse’s Hakim Warrick left the door open for the Jayhawks at 81-78. But Warrick made up for the free throw misfires by swatting away Michael Lee’s would-be tying 3-pointer. Derrick Rose was unable to duplicate that feat for Memphis after his missed free throw kept Kansas within one shot — drained by Mario Chalmers — of a tie.
5. Neither of these teams is likely to follow in Florida’s footsteps and bring back its core group from this season next year. Memphis loses Joey Dorsey to graduation, but more importantly, Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts are likely to test NBA Draft waters. Kansas’ Brandon Rush is likely gone as well, joining seniors Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson.
6. Billy Packer was about 3-4 possessions late in recognizing when Kansas’ defense shifted to a box-and-1. It’s time for a change, CBS. And while you’re at it, give Gus Johnson the Final Four play-by-play responsibilities as well.
7. Great game, but a disappointing overtime. Memphis seemed totally deflated after blowing the lead in regulation when the truth is they still had five minutes of basketball left to earn the championship. Despite an NCAA record 38 wins for the season, Memphis won’t be remembered as the team of 2008 in college basketball.
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