Free Throws Finally Burn Memphis

Amongst other issues. That was quite the final eight minutes (including the OT). First off, much props are inline for Jason, the co-founder of the excellent sports/fan networking site Ballhype, who easily won the LBS March Madness Pool by being the only person to correctly predict the participants of the Championship Game. Quite impressive, Jason. Jason had Memphis winning so he probably was counting his money with about 130 seconds to go and the Tigers up by nine. There were several factors that contributed to the Kansas comeback, and I’m delighted to elaborate.

Joey Dorsey fouled out, leaving the middle open for Darrell Arthur. Mario Chalmers made his free throws, not to mention a small, tiny little three-pointer. They also made a great steal on an inbounds pass under the basket and Sherron Collins cashed it in with a three-pointer. But just when people thought Memphis had turned the corner when it came to free-throw shooting, they tanked. CDR and Dozier made two apiece to help build the nine-point lead. But then things came crashing down. CDR missed the front-end of a one-and-one, and followed that up by missing two more free throws in the double bonus with his team only up one. He makes one or two and his team is safe and sound. Instead, he bricked them both, leaving the pressure on Derrick Rose. Rose then hit one of two, keeping it at a one possession game.

The last 10 seconds of the game are then a mystery — from the Memphis side. Give Clark Kellogg credit for saying it — why didn’t the Tigers foul with five or six seconds left in order to eliminate the chance of a game-tying three-pointer? They foul, it goes to the line, and then Memphis gets the ball back and wins. It’s the exact same strategy Bruce Pearl used to beat Memphis in their only prior defeat. Calipari says they were trying to foul, but I didn’t see it. Maybe he thought so, but maybe his players were on a different wavelength. Anyway, much like I said in my reflections on the UCLA loss, free throws would eventually come back to burn Memphis. And congrats to Jason for winning the pool.

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  • Jeff

    With such great talent on both sides of the ball, to me, it all comes down to who is best prepared, and we saw that Kansas was. Being prepared lies entirely with the coaching staff. If Caliperi had his team prepared, they would have first known to call a timeout after the 2 free throws, so he could remind them to foul. Even if they didn’t have a timeout to take, they should have known to foul, but they didn’t and the reason is, they had very few close games during the season, so they were in unfamiliar territory. It reminds me of when I was going to school at UNLV in 1991-92. We blew out every team we played by 30 points, so when we found ourselves down by 2 points with the last shot, the players didn’t know what to do. So, bottom line, you can blame the players for missing free throws, but it all comes down to the coach.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    You’re right, Calipari said after the game the team was trying to foul, but we can never be sure since he didn’t call a timeout to confirm the plan for the final 10 seconds. If you watch the replays, you can see Derrick Rose raise his arms after contact in the last five seconds as if to show he didn’t want a foul called. I think that proves the coach and players were on different wavelengths.

  • SpinMax

    I don’t understand why in any basketball game, it’s not standard operating procedure to just foul when up by 3 with time running out. Why does it even have to be discussed? One of the biggest choke jobs ever.

  • http://maxsportz.com maxsportz

    Hate see see Memphis choke away a win. But KU did what was needed to win. BTW how good was Davidson. They took Kansas to the limit. They may not have matched up with UNC or Memphis but I think they were as good as anyone.