Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Topsy Turvy

Well that was a let down.

Having no vested interest in who won last night’s game (don’t despise UNC or MSU and my bracket was busted last weekend) I was just hoping for a good game.

Instead we got the opposite. A rout from start to finish.

A few notes before I get to the game.

I need to point out the following have occurred in our world once we moved into the 21st Century:

1: The Red Sox have won two World Series.

2: The Patriots have won three Super Bowls, went 16-0 in a regular season and came within one ridiculous play of a forth Super Bowl win. They are now considered the model franchise for the NFL in both on field success and off field scouting and money management.

(You would have had to grow up in the 70s and 80s…and, well...90s to fully appreciate this new era of Patriots football. Before Bledsoe ruptured his spleen, there were maybe 4 good Patriot teams in my lifetime. Maybe. It’s probably closer to 3 as that Grogan team that made the Super Bowl in ’86 was more of a fluke.)

3: Doc Rivers coached a team to an NBA Championship. And he beat a team coached by Phil Jackson in order to do it.

4: A team led by Eli Manning beat a team led by Tom Brady in a Super Bowl.

5: The Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead. To the Red Sox.

6: Our President is a black man.

7: Banks are running out of money.

8: The Chicago White Sox won the World Series.

9: The Yankees haven’t won a championship.

And now…

Roy Williams has taken a favored team all the way.

Maybe the world is ending, it's just taking longer than we thought.

I am fully aware Williams won one title before (although I always considered that Dean Smith's team), but his flaw seems to have been managing an extremely talented team so it could finish as strong as they started. That UNC team he won with before was a bit over looked and were not considered favorites to even make the Final Four.

To get an idea what I'm referring to watch his very last game coaching the Kansas Jayhawks and how he stands frozen on the sidelines while his team comes apart. A simple time out would have done wonders to get his team refocused. Instead he does nothing and the game is lost.

Did I mention this was in the Finals? When he was fully aware he would be coaching the Tarheels the very next season? To the regret of Kansas fans around the country, it sure looked like Williams had bailed on his team before his last game was over.

After last night, should we now consider Roy Williams a good coach?

Personally, I’m not sure we still have that answer. There wasn’t a whole lot of adjusting or game management for him to do last night. He let his players loose and they took care of business. They were never threatened. Williams didn’t need to make any adjustments. At all!

On the other hand, maybe preparing your team so well throughout the season is the sign of a good coach. Knowing when to back off and let them to their thing and when to put some pressure on them or adjust the lineups to the situation. I know Williams can do one of those things well, but can he do the other?

Or maybe he just recruits well. He gets players that are intelligent and focused and driven so he doesn’t need to do any of that.

I was hoping for a massive Michigan State comeback for two reasons. First, I wanted to see an entertaining game. Second, I was extremely interested in how Williams reacted when his team needed him to do something. Would he stand like a statue on the sidelines again? Would he call the perfect time out and calm his team?

Unfortunately we’ll never know.

Mainly because he had the best player on the court playing for him: Ty Lawson. That dude was incredible on both ends of the floor last night. Dictating not only the tempo for his own team, but thoroughly disrupting any semblance of offense the Spartans were hoping to get. He was everywhere!

The biggest play in the entire game occurred about 5 minutes into the second half. Michigan State is playing better. They’re getting stops, being aggressive on the offensive end, the pro MSU crowd is starting to get involved. UNC comes down and the ball is tipped away. One of the Michigan State players grabs the ball and launches a quick outlet pass to start a fast break for his team as the crowd screams in anticipation of a potential layup.

Instead his pass is knocked away by Lawson who then jumps up, palms the ball as he’s falling out of bounds and passes it to his team mate. His team mate then drives to the hoop, scores and gets fouled on the play. A three point play for UNC that should have been a fast break layup for the Spartans.

Any hopes of a Michigan State comeback ended on that play.

Here’s another question: Should we consider this UNC team one of the best college teams ever?

Considering they started as a pre season consensus number one, cruised through the regular season without much trouble, played in one of the better leagues, and only lost their conference tournament when Lawson went down with that toe injury it needs to be discussed.

How about them winning by an average of 13 points a game throughout the March Madness tournament? Or that this was one of the more loaded and talented brackets many of us can remember? Or how they easily handled Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Villanova and Michigan State all of which were impressive in their own right?

They have to be considered, right? At the very least, they should be in the conversation for Top 10 Best Teams.

One more question: Will Lawson make a good pro point guard?

For me that was answered last night.

Today’s distraction: One of the most creative wood makers I’ve ever seen. They’re even useful. I would spend an entire year’s paycheck to get that Ferrari car boat thing. You think he’d sell it to me for $15,000?


Hammen said...

That was an old Roy staple, to sit there and refuse to use timeouts to stop the bleeding. NOT FUN TO WATCH WHEN HE'S YOUR COACH. Although it was nice when he was using that same method last year vs. KU in the final four.

I would consider putting this UNC team in the conversation for best teams of all-time. Certainly of the past 15-20 years or so. But it's tough to say, since this was such a weak year for college basketball. They didn't really have much competition.

BeachBum said...

Agreed, I think Roy looked good during this tourney because he really didn't have to make many adjustments. Just let his team play because they were just superior.

Do you think the competition is becoming diluted? I though there were 8-10 teams that had a legitimate chance to win the whole thing this year. But maybe that is dilution and not competition.

More on this tomorrow.

thepowerof10 said...

It's genuinely too bad UNC didn't get tested once all tourney. I would have liked to see them play against UConn, Louisville, Pitt, hell even Memphis. I think any of those teams could have given us a better game than Michigan State. Not that I'm complaining, but I know most of the nation is.

Hammen said...

I don't think competition is diluted, since just last year you had 4 REALLY, REALLY good teams (KU, UNC, Memphis, UCLA.) This was just a down year, the way it fell with people either deciding to stay, or going to the NBA.

Here's a biased example, but look at the starting five KU COULD have trotted out this year: Collins, Chalmers, Rush, Julian Wright, and Aldrich. With Darrell Arthur as a sixth man? Yowzas. But a bunch of them leave for the NBA, and that's just one less great team in college this year.

I know there are many more examples, that's just the one I went with (for obvious reasons.)

Clayton Bigsby said...

it has been a crazy decade. The Seahawks and Cardinals went to a Super Bowl. The Marlins won two world series'. The Rays went to a world series. Maybe that Mayan calender that ends in 2012 has some truth to it.

BeachBum said...

That's right. Totally forgot about the Rays going to the Series. That probably trumps the Cardinals, but not by much.