Kansas and Memphis are very similar teams. They both have excellent guard play and excellent post play, are deep at every position (although the injury to Rodrick Stewart and suspension of Andre Allen has taken away from that a bit), and are playing as well as they have all season heading into tonight's game.
For me, the best part about this game is that I would wouldn't mind seeing either team win. Yes, there are some pretty unsavory characters on the Memphis team (Robert Dozier and Andre Allen come to mind immediately), but all of these guys play hard and although they aren't the smartest group (for example, Chris Douglas-Roberts' major is Sport and Leisure Management) they seem like pretty decent people. Rose's three brothers did everything they could to keep him isolated growing up in a tough neighborhood of Chicago, and CDR has a tattoo of his Mom on his neck, and has the first three verses of Psalm 37 from the Bible tattooed on his arm which he rubs three time before shooting every free throw.
For Kansas, they all are pretty likeable guys. Sasha Kaun's father was murdered by the Russian government when he was 12, and he had to grow up very quickly (after he lost his starting spot, his mom came all the way from Russia, where he has visited twice since starting his sophomore year in High School in Florida, to live with him. Check out this article from the NY Times about him). Sherron Collins has overcome growing up on the streets of Chicago with a father who was in and out of jail and the death of his two week old son the summer before his freshman year to become a spark for Kansas.
How can you not root for these guys to succeed?
Keys to the game:
-Can Kansas slow down Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts? They have been shredding teams apart in the tournament, but Kansas has four guards to throw at the two of them.
-How will the Kansas guards handle to pressure from Memphis? They had 13 turnovers combined (7 from Sherron Collins) in the games against UNC.
-How will Dorsey and company handle Kansas's interior players? Memphis' relies on their advantage in size and athleticism inside, and Kansas can match-up with them.
-Free Throws? It will always be a question with Memphis, even if they have been hitting them in the tournament.
-Which Kansas team show up? The one that went up by 28 in the first half of the UNC game, or the one that would have been up by just two points had Danny Green's three rattled in.
-Which Brandon Rush shows up? Kansas is a much better team when he plays like the go-to player he has the potential to be.
Why Kansas can win:
Kansas's guards are all good defenders. UCLA's were as well, but the difference is that guys like Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, and (especially) Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush are bigger and stronger than the UCLA guards (Collins still holds football records in Chicago, where he played as a free safety and receiver). Rose and CDR score a lot of their points because they are bigger, stronger, and can elevate over their defenders. The guards from Kansas are as big as any that Memphis has faced this year, and have done valiant jobs on Scottie Reynolds, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington in their last three games.
Why Memphis can win:
Simply put - they are playing the best basketball in the country. They rolled through the C-USA conference tourney, and if they hit their free throws against Mississippi State, they would have won every game in the NCAA's by double digits. Derrick Rose has finally lived up to the substantial hype, CDR is playing phenomenal, and Joey Dorsey is back being a beast. Everyone has said all year, if Memphis can play up to their potential, they can win a title. Well, now they are.
Memphis. This one is so hard to pick, because both teams are playing so well and are so talented, but I think Derrick Rose and CDR will be too much.
Monday, April 7, 2008