Saturday, March 21, 2009

Coach K puts it on the line for Duke

Saturday's final four:

1. In the final seconds, with Duke at the line trying to extend a 3-point lead, Coach K did what far too few coaches do: Instead of having nobody line up in any of the free-throw rebounding positions, thereby surrending a missed shot to the opponent, he had a player take one of the spots. Sure enough, when the foul shot was missed, David McClure kept the ball alive for the Dookies. Teammate Gerald Henderson emerged from a scramble with the ball, got fouled and iced the game with two free throws. Given the funny bounces the basketball can take, why do coaches so often just concede the rebound to the opponent? I know the answer: They are afraid of a player being called for a loose-ball foul. But think about it: A coach trusts players to do all manner of things during the course of a game but won't trust them to steer clear of a foul in a key situation? Well, Coach K trusted McClure. Rather than trying not to lose, he was trying to win. Just another reason Coach K is one of the best ever.

2. And speaking of free throws ... I felt really good about my upset pick of Western Kentucky over Gonzaga. And the Hilltoppers probably would have pulled it off if they hadn't gone 5-for-14 from the line. Texas, meanwhile, was 16-for-25 in losing the close one to Duke. This time of year, if you don't hit your free throws, you're dead.

3. Illinois certainly missed Chester Frazier and Marquette misses Dominic James ... but please. Ty Lawson, an NBA stud in the making, showed Saturday just what North Carolina had been missing when the superstar point guard was out with his toe injury. Yeah, but Lawson has so much more talent around him, right? Right - and yet he still took over and was the difference in the second half when the Tar Heels needed him against LSU. What a player.

4. As is the case going into Sunday's meeting, Marquette and Missouri were the 3 and 6 seeds in the 2003 tourney (although back then, unlike now, Marquette was the 3 and Mizzou was the 6). That game was an overtime classic, with Travis Diener and Steve Novak - not Dwyane Wade - carrying the day for a talented Marquette team that used the victory as a springboard to the Final Four. Sounds like a plan! Hey, a Golden Warrior Eagles fan can dream, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment