Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One Shining Moment

Okay, now that I have thrashed Bob Kravitz, let's get on to more pleasant things - tonight's amazing NCAA Tournament final. Ohio State, playing for its first national championship since 1960, squared off against Florida, the defending national champion looking to become the first squad to repeat since Duke did it in 1992. Also, this championship game featured the same two teams as the college football championship game back in January.

From the opening tip to the final horn, it was a great game. Greg Oden was everywhere, throwing down monster dunks, swatting shots, grabbing rebounds, and generally making life miserable for any and all Gators who got near him. But Florida was making life difficult for Ohio State from behind the three-point line. Florida was 10 out of 18 from beyond the arc, while Ohio State was 4 out of 23. That's 19 missed three-point shots in a game where the margin of victory was only nine points. Florida never really looked back after going into the locker room at halftime with an eleven point lead; and every time Ohio State would start to cut into that lead, down the floor Florida would come, and Lee Humphrey or Corey Brewer would drop a trey on the Buckeyes, who had no real answer for Florida's motion offense. Even the touted Oden, who had four blocks, swatted three of them right back to Florida players. When the horn sounded, Florida had 84 points to Ohio State's 75, and they had accomplished something, back-to-back national titles, that had not been done in fifteen years - and has now only been done twice in the last thirty-four years.

When Florida beat Ohio State to win the football national championship back in January, they became the first school to ever hold both championships concurrently; with tonight's win, they become the first school to ever win both titles in the same academic year - and they also became the first school ever to win back-to-back titles with the same starting five, a starting five that all put off plans to head to the NBA in order to stay in school and take one more shot at a national championship.

So there is still some glory to be had in college basketball, and some kids who would prefer to play for that glory for one more year, rather than go early to the NBA. I never had much of an opinion about Florida before this season, but I have now developed quite a lot of respect for them. (I'd like it even more if head coach Billy Donovan stays, but methinks he's off to Kentucky.) And I have tons of respect for Joakim Noah, who by some accounts would have been the first pick in last year's draft if he had left school - and now figures to go lower, presuming that guys like Greg Oden and national player of the year Kevin Durant (Texas) enter the draft. Is he still a first-round pick? Sure he is. But not the top pick. Tonight he doesn't care, because he has helped accomplish something great in college basketball. And no amount of success or failure in the NBA can ever take that away from him.

1 comment:

Last King of SCOOTland said...

Disclaimer: this is ridiculously long.

You know what is sad? I am somewhat glad the season is over. I don't know if it is the fact that IU has not been relevant for 5 years or what, but I just could never get into this season. I tried to. I watched. I read. I followed. But it was more out of a "I really should be watching this" than a "Man, I can't wait to watch this game". Strange.

I think it has a lot to do with the Hoosiers who, even with a very nice season, were never in any kind of talk about being a contending team. Now we get to last nights title game, and to be honest I was bored. I was more excited about the start of the baseball season. I think it was becuase there was no real drama to it, after about 5 minutes. Ohio State had to play their tails off to keep it within 8 points and you just knew that even if they made a run to 3 or so, Florida would have an answer. Florida might honestly be the best college basketball team that we have seen. They have no holes. They are big and gifted inside, can handle, shoot the three, play killer defense, run, play half court, you name it they can do it. And most importantly, unlike other great Kansas, UNLV, North Carolina, Duke or Indiana teams, they actually won the title they were supposed to.

Now, I will say this. I do still love college basketball, and Joakim Noah is an example of one of the reasons. Noah will be nothing more than a Bo Outlaw, PJ Brown type in the NBA. He is a good athlete and a hustle player. However, he has no real "skill" to speak of, and the NBA is very much a skill game. He can't really shoot. Doesn't have dominant post moves. He's rail thin and will not be all that tall in the NBA compared to the guys he'll be playing. Yes, he would've been a top 3 pick last year and he will still be a lottery pick this year, but he will ultimatley be a disapointment I think. However, in college, where it is still more about hustle and heart than skill, he is a star. I honestly can't stand Noah. His theatrics and the constant mention or shots of his dad piss me off. However, he is everything that is still great about college basketball.

As for Oden, I was very impressed. I still think he comes back again. However, I think that the percentage is now closer to 60-40 return than if he had played a bad game. I think this is a kid that really has perspective on things. I think he not only wants to play, but be very good at the next level, and he knows he can't do that yet. He will be eaten alive for many reasons (alot of them you expertly mentioned). I think he comes back to make another run at it, and to get better equipped for a career in the NBA. I think he is more of a Tim Duncan than a Shaq. He has a good head on his shoulders, plus I think he likes being a kid. Also, he knows he's the number 1 pick whenever he does leave. Now, what would be interesting is if the Florida kids come back to 3-peat. The only seniors were Lee Humphery and Chirs Richard. They won't, but it would be fun.

Finally, as for Kravitz, it is the same everywhere. There is a reason these guys are nothing more than local beat writers. They are wrong most of the time. They have no real insight into any of the things they claim to be near experts on. And finally, they are far to over-the-top opininated. They think it is about getting the "scoup" or being the first guy to call out something. They forget that it is more about giving the facts than their opinions. Now, I know that his column is more of a commentary than a play by play report, but he rarely has anything to back up his claims. Don't fret, he'll never be anything more than the lead wirter of a local paper. He'll make a modest living, but noone of any importance will ever read, or listen, or care about what he says.

Man, this was like a post to itself. I will finally sign off with the fact that I wish I still had you passion for the amazing sport that is collegge basketball. I am just to sick of only watching kids for a year, and of IU having to be happy with getting into the tournament as a 6 seed or what have you. Next year will be different, I hope. We will be relivant. We should contend for the Big 10 (even if Oden stays) and that should keep me more excited. At least I hope so.