As all of you know, Kansas defeated Memphis 75-68 in overtime last night. If you did not know that, where the hell have you been? At any rate, we got to see a nice little collapsing done by the Tigers in the last 2:12 of regulation. They were up by nine points and just needed to make their free throws to win the National Championship and go 39-1. After making all four free throws in the first two times they were fouled, Memphis shot themselves in the foot. They went 1-5 on free throws in the end of regulation and gave Kansas a chance at the end only being down by three. The Jayhawks came down and got the ball to the Most Outstanding Player, Mario Chalmers, who sank a tough three-pointer to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In the extra session, Kansas made sure they took advantage of Joey Dorsey not being in the game. Their first eight points of overtime were scored on either dunks or layups. The momentum shifted and the Kansas Jayhawks were National Champions. Now I'm about to tell you the little reasons as to why Memphis lost and why Kansas won this game.
I know Kansas was playing pretty good defense, but Derrick Rose needed to assert himself on the offensive end much earlier in the game than midway through the second half. For awhile, Rose looked as if he didn't want any part of playing in the game. He was passing up shots left and right and wasn't even attempting to drive on his man. Their somewhat large lead in the last two or three minutes was credit to his stepping up on offense when Kansas went box-and-one on Chris Douglas-Roberts.
One of Kansas's goals for the second half was to get the big guys for Memphis in serious foul trouble. They accomplished that goal. Joey Dorsey fouled out with 3:36 to go in the game. Kansas outrebounded the Tigers 11-4 for the rest of the game. I can't help but think that wouldn't have happened had Dorsey still been in there.
Next I would like to take the time to credit the Jayhawks with fantastic defense. When the shot clock was dwindling down they put enormous pressure on Memphis's offense. This caused tough shot attempts that usually did not go in. In transition, Kansas recorded a lot of steals by picking the Memphis guards' pockets. Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins had four and three steals in the game, respectively.
The announcers kept mentioning how terrible Kansas was shooting from deep. What about Memphis? They were only two percent better. The difference, however, is that the Tigers shot TEN MORE three-pointers than the Jayhawks. Not it looks as if Kansas didn't shoot that bad considering what Memphis was doing, right? I thought Coach Cal could have gone to his bench a little more though. Only six players logged more than five minutes in the game. Last time I checked, Memphis goes a whole hell of a lot deeper than that. Mack and Kemp were the two, especially, that could have been very useful down the stretch.
Bottom line is this: the game was won and lost on coaching decisions. In my opinion, Bill Self outcoached John Calipari and that was the difference in the game. Two big things down the stretch made this clear. The first was when Memphis was up three right before Chalmers hit the game-tying three-pointer. Calipari should have had his team fouling so Kansas could only get two points. He had three timeouts; he could have used one to make it very clear to his players (Derrick Rose, I'm looking at you) that they needed to foul in that particular situation. The second thing was the strategy for the last play in regulation after Kansas tied it up with two seconds to go. They could have thrown the ball to halfcourt, which they did, AND CALLED A TIMEOUT! This would give them the chance to draw up a game-winning play from 45 feet, instead of 90.
It's not all bad for Memphis though. Derrick Rose proved that he is a freshman and will make mistakes in huge games like this. All that aside, he had a pretty fantastic end to regulation. He finished the game with a MOP-worthy 18 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. Chris Douglas-Roberts was also sensational with a game-high 22 points. On the opposite side of this, Darrell Arthur was fantastic scoring 20 points for the winners. Chalmers, Brandon Rush, and Sherron Collins all finished in double figures for scoring.
So congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks and to Bill Self for coaching a great game and having his players ready to go. Congratulations to the Memphis Tigers on a successful season. 38-2 is nothing to be ashamed of. I'll have a blog coming out later this week with team and player ranking to finish the season. Have a good week!