Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Super Mario leads Jayhawks to stunning win over Memphis

Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT)
Title Game MVPs
KAN-Mario Chalmers 18 pts, 4 steals
MEM-Derrick Rose 18 pts, 8 rebs
Final 4 MOP: Mario Chalmers

Chalmers' shining moment will be replayed till the end of time

God I love being right.

Did I or did I not say the two players to watch in this game would be Derrick Rose for Memphis and Mario Chalmers for Kansas?

Answer: yes and yes.

And didn't I predict in my preview post that, and I quote myself "this matchup could provide one of the most entertaining, exciting and electrifying finals in NCAA history"?

Right again.

Throw in the fact that I advised the basketball fan that the two teams playing for the title would be so evenly matched because they play the same style of ball that it would end up being a game worth watching regardless of team affiliation, and what you have is a major league case of 'I told you so' right here.

What's that? I can't hear you, what?

Oh, you say I picked Memphis to win the game?

Always a fucking smartass in every bunch.

So maybe I did call everything but the outcome of the 2008 championship game, at least I was right about the most important facet of all and that's the fact that the game will go down as one of the greatest title games in college basketball history.

(the preceeding statement was for non-gamblers only. If you lost any money on the outcome or had Memphis in your office pool, then disregard.)

After a back-and-forth affair for 3/4 of the game, Memphis seemingly had the game won when it took a 9-point lead with just over 2:00 to play. Trailing by 5 at halftime, John Calipari's club used a 25-14 run to pull ahead by 5 with 5:00 left in the game. The run was fueled by freshman sensation Rose, who had just 3 points at halftime but exploded for 15 in the 2nd half, including an incredible stretch where he scored 14 of Memphis' 16 points.

But it was a seemingly innocuous call on an apparent Rose three-point bank shot that made the score 56-49 with just over 4:00 to play that ended up coming back to haunt the Tigers just minutes later.

The refs huddled and ruled the trey was actually a deuce, but with Memphis on the verge of putting this one in the books it looked as if the removal of a point would have no effect on the outcome of the game.

Oh how wrong that assertion would be.

Shortly after taking the 9 point lead, 60-51, Kansas went into full foul mode to try and stop the clock and get back in the game, a strategy that is usually as maddening as it is ineffective.

Except this time the Tigers, who were 3rd from the bottom in FT shooting during the season but a respectable 75% in the tourney, made the Jayhawks' plan pay off. Memphis inexplicably reverted back to a team of Shaqs at the line as stars Chris Douglas-Roberts (game-high 22 pts) missed three in a row and Rose missed one, and with Kansas hitting a couple of key threes and frees of their own, suddenly the 9-point bulge was down to a mere three with :10 seconds to go.

Enter my pick to click, Chalmers.

The feisty guard had already had a whale of a game with 13 points and 4 picks in the game, including 3 steals in the first half, most of them off Rose, but little did anyone know that he was about to enter the annals of college basketball history.

With Calipari choosing not to call a timeout, Sherron Collins took the ball upcourt and for some reason wasn't fouled, and after he handed it off to Chalmers at the top of the circle, Rose chose not to foul him either. It turned out to be a costly mistake as Chalmers calmly elevated over Rose and dropped a straight away three through the net to tie the game, stunning the Memphis squad and fans, so much so that Calipari AGAIN forgot to call a timeout with 2.1 seconds left to set up a last shot.

Instead Robert Dozier's desperation heave at the buzzer fell shy, and Kansas went on to destroy the shell-shocked Tigers in the OT, outscoring them 12-5 to win the 3rd title in Jayhawks history and first in 20 years, since the memorable Danny & The Miracles squad of 1988.

Ironic that it took a miraculous shot, and one hell of a terrific game, for the Kansas to be able to cut the nets down again.

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