Sports 56 WHBlog Q

April 8, 2008

About Last Night…

Filed under: ncaa tourney — Tags: , — Will Askew @ 11:04 am

A lot will be made of last night’s national championship game. People will talk about Kansas’ unbelievable comeback, about Memphis’ epic collapse, about missed free throws, about why Derrick Rose didn’t foul Sherron Collins.

But more should be made about the fact that regardless of the outcome last night, and the absolute heartache that any Tiger fan is feeling today, that a team captivated and united a city, and that should be celebrated. More should be made about the fact that beneath all of the tattoos and the rough exterior, this team was actually a collection of good people, and maybe that will remind us to look beneath the surface here at home and not judge based on appearance. I am not a Tiger fan, but a North Carolina fan, and for that I get unbelievable amounts of grief. But I do appreciate what the Tiger basketball team symbolizes in this city. That there are plenty of things, whether black or white, rich or poor, inner city or suburbs, that can bring this city together and unite us as one. And as we were reminded last weekend with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that was his dream.

Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose are likely headed to the NBA, and Joey Dorsey will head there as well. The Tigers may or may not get two highly sought-after recruits in Tyreke Evans and Devin Ebanks. The Tigers will have a different, but still very good, team next year. But Memphians should never forget this team, the 2008 runner up, just like they haven’t forgotten the 1973 runner up, as more than a basketball team, but a symbol–as divided as Memphians are in so many ways, they can rally together around a single cause that transcends all that divides us.

On to the game.

It is tough to pinpoint a single moment when it began to slip away for Memphis. As for me, I would have to say that Sherron Collins’ steal and three probably began the momentum shift. The cruel irony of the Tigers’ missing free throws is hard to ignore. All year long, John Calipari has been preaching that they would “make them when they have to,” and they had. Until the last 16.8 seconds of the final game of the season.

There were a couple of other key moments in the game. Joey Dorsey’s fifth foul was needless and silly, and not having him in the overtime period, as John Calipari correctly pointed out postgame, is a major reason why they lost the game. With Memphis’ guards completely outclassing everyone the entire tournament, it was an easy pick that they would in this game as well. Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins were terrific though. Collins is a total bulldog, and Chalmers may be the best player on their team. Darrell Arthur completely outplayed Joey Dorsey, who was hampered by foul issues. Arthur will end up being the best NBA player off of this team, in my opinion. What poise Kansas showed getting back in the game–they made every play that they had to make. A worthy champion to be sure.

As hurt as Tiger fans are today, all should appreciate what this team meant to this city, and maybe this team reminded us that there are certain ties that bind. The symbolism, I hope, will not be lost.

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