Sunday, April 6, 2008

And Then There Were Two....

After watching Memphis slowly dismantle UCLA and Kansas put a whipping on UNC, I'm as excited for tomorrow night's championship as I could possibly be for a title game without UConn playing in it. It's going to be a fantastic game. Here are my thoughts on last night's games:

Memphis 78, UCLA 63
-Derrick Rose is going to be a superstar in the NBA. After watching him last night (and for the whole tournament, actually), I'm sure of it. He's got all the physical attributes you want - big, strong in the air, lightening quicks, incredible hops - and besides having a jumper that is a bit inconsistent, he can do anything on a basketball court. Two moves from last night stick in my mind. In the first half, on a fast break, he hit Russell Westbrook (Pac-10 defensive player of the year) with an in-and-out move that completely fooled him and then finished with a tough lefty lay-in. In the second half, he drove to middle with his left hand from the right wing, cam to a jump stop on the opposite block, went up and finished with his right hand on the other side of the rim in traffic.

That's not even the best part about this kid. He's unselfish. In an interview after the game last night, when asked about comments Penny Hardaway made about his talents, Rose said "C'mon man, it's not about me". He could have easily gone for 40 last night, but he deferred to the open man (more often than not Chris Douglas-Roberts who finished with 28. Every time he got into the lane against UCLA's smaller guards, he was able to elevate and finish over or through them. He finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. This kid's going to be a star. I've heard many comparisons for Rose - Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, etc. - but I see him being more of a Deron Williams/Dwayne Wade type player.

-At one point in the first half, with Dorsey playing poorly, Coach John Calipari was caught on camera meeting Dorsey at half court and ripping into him. From that point forward, Dorsey was an animal - he finished with 15 boards and 2 blocks. But his most important contribution was the job he did defensively on Kevin Love. The freshman scored just 12 points on 4-11 shooting with no second half field goals.

-Was that really Darren Collison out there? He played horribly - he shot 1-9 from the field, had 5 turnovers, could not guard anyone, and fouled out with 3 minutes left. He wasn't able to get any penetration, instead dribbling aimlessly around the perimeter. Not the way you want NBA scouts to see you end your season.

-Russell Westbrook looked great. His ball skills (jump shot and handle) need some improvement, but he's a heck of an athlete, tough, and a great defender that can get in the passing lanes.

Kansas 84, UNC 66
-This was one of the stranger games I've witnessed in my life. First of all, I have never seen anything like the show Kansas put on in the first 15 minutes of their game against UNC last night. It seemed like Kansas had seven guys on the floor - every time UNC had possession the ball was knocked loose, and most of the time Kansas wound up with the loose ball. UNC couldn't dribble, couldn't pass, couldn't shoot, couldn't keep Kansas from getting a lay-up, dunk or wide open three. It was the single most dominating performance I have ever seen in my life - and it came against not only a #1 seed, but the #1 team in the country. Amazing.

-For as well as KU played in the first 15 minutes, UNC played that well for the next 20. After the Jayhawks built their 40-12 lead, UNC outscored them 41-18 and were a Danny Green jump shot going half way down and coming out away from cutting the lead to two. From that point on, Kansas pulled away, in large part due to the tired legs of the Heels.

-Wayne Ellington was one of the lone bright spots for the Heels. He ended the game with 18 points on just 8-21 shooting, but he got hot at the right team. Ellington and Danny Green shot UNC back into the game.

-I did not understand Roy Williams substitution patterns. The first half was one thing - when your team is struggling that badly you need to do something to get your team jump started. But in the second half, there were times when Williams had Hansbrough, Ellington, and Lawson on the bench at the same time. When Green's three rimmed out, with only about six minutes left, Will Graves got the offensive rebound and lost it out of bounds. Graves played 6 minutes against Arkansas, 1 minute against Washington State, and earned a DNP-CD (did not play-coach's decision) against Louisville when all three games were won by double digits. And he is on the floor with under six minutes left in the Final Four when you're trying to make a comeback? I understand that you guys are going to be getting tired, but with Green, Ellington, Lawson, Quentin Thomas, and Marcus Guinyard you don't have enough bodies in the back court?

-The Kansas front court may be better than advertised. Every one knows about the three-headed monster of Darnell Jackson, Darrell Arthur, and Sasha Kaun, but when those three faced foul trouble early in the first half - before Kansas had really made their big run - freshman Cole Aldrich came in and outplayed them all. There was about an 8 minute span when he was the best player on the floor. He finished 8 points, 7 boards (4 offensive), and 4 blocks (6, 6, and 3 in the 1st half, all double his season averages), but there was one sequence that really stood out in my mind as proof that this kid will be the real deal. In the first half, he received a beautiful feed and tried to go up an dunk with one hand and missed it. UNC went the other way, but Aldrich hustled down the court and blocked (with the help of Arthur) a Hansbrough hook shot. Kansas had a fast break the other way and missed a lay-up, but guess who was there for a follow up dunk. Aldrich. He played a great game, and was a huge reason for the Kansas lead in the first half.

-Brandon Rush finally played like he should play every night. He finished with 25 points on 11-17 from the field and added 7 boards. He scored in such a variety of ways. He knocked down threes. He hit pull-ups and floaters. He got all the way to the rim, but also made his patented drive-right, fade-away one-handed-leaner off-the-glass about three times. It's too bad he doesn't play that way more often.

1 comment:

Jayhozifat said...

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