What a great NCAA final last night between Memphis and Kansas, for several reasons:
1. Both teams played incredible defense, to the point where each team started using their offensive possessions to get a little rest. The entire game was a flying mass of arms and legs, with each rebound seemingly a life and death struggle.
2. Neither team went crazy on the threes. The NCAA is going to move their three-point-line back about a foot next year (in line with international rules), which is definitely a good thing. However, it wasn’t an issue last night as both teams’ guards favored penetration over gunning from distance.
3. Billy Packer started freaking out like he does in every close game, getting angry at any mistake Memphis would make. True, Memphis (Chris Douglas-Roberts especially) missed some key free throws down the stretch, but on one miss Packer acted like Douglas-Roberts missed because he decided to use a t-shirt cannon to shoot the ball in the final minute and broke the backboard. Nantz tried to calm him down at one point, explaining why Memphis was having a tough time simply by saying “pressure.
My other favorite Packer moment was late in the game when Memphis gave up a key offensive rebound to Kansas, which caused Packer to rant about how Dorsey fouling out a minute earlier really hurt them on that play, even though Dorsey only had two rebounds in 26 minutes (Dozier, who was in the game and had a chance to grab the board, had 10 rebounds).
4. CBS turned the Nantzatron up just enough for Nantz’s line at the end of overtime, “Rock, chalk, championship!” A tradition unlike any other, the Nantzatron, on CBS.
A couple more things before we forget college basketball altogether for about six months:
The new three-point-line shouldn’t be the only change we see next year. The half-circle under the basket you see in NBA games also needs to be in the college game. There are way too many charge calls in college, which was another nice thing about last night – both teams actually played defense by moving their feet instead of jumping in front of people and flopping. What a concept!
And even more importantly, it’s time to move the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. Thankfully the clock isn’t at 45 seconds anymore like it was when I was a kid, and I think if college followed the NBA and moved to a 24-second clock it would make the game sloppy. But 35 seconds is way too many. Unless it’s a fast break, it’s almost worth fast-forwarding the beginning of each possession in college basketball, since it usually consists of the point guard walking the ball around the half court line for about ten seconds before a play even develops.
It’s not the kids who want a longer shot clock, but the coaches. Most high profile college head coaches get more attention than the players, and they revel in the extra time they have to call set plays each and every time their team has the ball. Some people may get excited about watching guys like Ben Howland, Roy Williams or Bill Self pacing the sidelines and barking orders, but I’d rather watch the players play without looking to the coach every time down.