Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday 04/08 A.M. Quickie:
Kansas Komeback, Memphis Choke, More!

Here's today's Sporting News column, and you can imagine the superlatives being tossed around (all specifically in the context of the NCAA Tournament Title Game, not NCAA Tournament all-time and certainly not all-sports, all-time):

*Best Comeback Ever?
(*Biggest Choke Ever?)
*Best Game Ever?
*Best Clutch Shot Ever?

Again, we are just talking superlatives in the context of NCAA Tournament championship games. Because this one was a doozy, an instant classic. You could not care about either team in the title game (and most probably didn't) and still be enthralled by the ending.

Best Comeback/Biggest Choke? Up 9 with 2 minutes to play, and up 2 in the final 20 seconds with 4 chances at the free-throw line to ice it? Absolutely. DS digression:
Beyond the free-throws, which you could see coming despite Memphis' solid FT percentage in the rest of the tournament -- it's called "regression to the mean" -- many fans are talking about John Calipari's tactical blunder in not calling for his team to foul Kansas before Chalmers' game-tying shot.

I think some of that had to do with Kansas not having a time-out after Rose's make, which would have presumably allowed Calipari to set up his strategy. But he could have easily called it out from the sidelines. There is no answer for the blunder, beyond the fact that Cal simply isn't a great game or "Xs and Os" coach.

I also think this was an example of the obvious downside of the much-lauded "letting players play" coaching strategy that gained so much traction on Sunday and Monday. Letting players play cost Memphis the championship.

That said, that "strategy" also won KU the game: If Self had had a time-out to use after Rose's free throw, I'm quite sure he would have used it... and I'm not sure Chalmers hits that shot if Memphis has a chance to set up a defensive strategy.

Now THAT is a lesson for coaches everywhere: Get your team ready for game-ending scenarios BEFORE the game. Last-second time-outs to set up a last-gasp play are overrated, at least when you have 10 seconds to get a shot off.
Best Game Ever? I'm not even sure it's the best Kansas game ever in the national-title game (would old-school KU fans really rank this ahead of 1988?) So: No.

Best Clutch Shot Ever? It wasn't a game-winner, but it might as well have been, given the momentum it gave KU heading into OT. Bigger than Keith Smart's jumper? Bigger than Rumeal Robinson's free throws? I'd certainly put Mario Chalmers' 3 in the mix: He wins on degree-of-difficulty, for sure.

I generally default to superlatives. In this case, I'm totally satisfied with an exciting finish, no matter where it ranks historically. I don't need a "Best" or "Biggest" to be able to say, "Wow."

Meanwhile, huge congrats to "B. Majores," whose "Baby Boilers" entry finished first out of 695 entries in the Daily Quickie Readers tournament challenge group (99.7 percentile overall). He wins the glory of winning one of the largest (and thus one of the most competitive) NCAA Tournament pools in the country -- and a guest-post right here! (Email me, B. Majores.)

If you used the National Bracket, you would have out-performed about 70 percent of the country.

Speaking of superlatives, I completed my Worst. NCAA Predictions. Ever., finishing in the 19th percentile. 19th! Cripes! What makes it all the more pathetic was that I was TRYING.

More things you'll find in today's Sporting News column: How Bill Self is trying to ruin the greatest moment of his career... Torii Hunter earns his fat paycheck... How David Garrard's new contract is linked to Tim Tebow's future... Memories of NASL... Looking ahead to tonight's NBA West action... More MLB instant history from Monday... and more! Check it out here.

-- D.S.


Joe Friday said...


I usually come to your site as a guilty pleasure, because for some reason I enjoy reading asinine predictions and shallow instant-history projections with little fact to back up anything.

That said, I want to thank you for the link you provided a few weeks back on the statitician who projects tourney success. I have been thinking the last few years that the way to pick brackets is simply to pick all favorites as trying to guess which early round upsets will occur is a fruitless exercise that doesn't result in many points in the long run(based on traditional scoring).

So this year, I completely made my picks based on that link you sent (other than picking my alma mater, UGA, to make the sweet sixteen). End result? 1st in my company-wide office pool (100+ entries) and 99th % on espn.com. So at least today, you da man, Dan.

Blockage said...

Definite congrats to B. Majores...I had a couple of close brackets with the Irish Carbombs (6th) and Strange Brew (13th) in the pool. Granted I had two completely different strategies with the two of them and the Strange Brew bracket was my first one completed and what I would call my original choices and gut instincts. Either way I look forward to next year's pool.