Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Thoughts on “The Game”

The NCAA Championship Game was last night.

Louisville defeated Michigan by six in a pretty good game. It’s the first complete game I have watched in several years. Having grown up in ACC country in the days of Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Lefty Driesell, Jim Valvano, and the like, it’s hard to get excited about the college game today.

But I watched it anyway, with no rooting interest.

At half time I tweeted that everything was going Michigan’s way and if it evened up, they could be in trouble.

Well, it didn’t really even up.

But Louisville came on strong. They went on a strong run at the end of the first half to take the lead and then go into the half down by one.

Louisville played a strong second half, and pulled away by ten, and eventually won by six.

Overall, it was a good game between two good teams.

A lot of people are complaining about the officiating. It wasn’t as bad as many are saying. There were some missed calls to be sure. But there always are. And it’s a lot easier for us sitting at home without a whistle (at least a whistle that matters), who get to make calls with no ramifications and then see if a replay confirms our call. Game officials don’t get that.

Louisville had three or four people in foul trouble by the middle of the second half, and Michigan had one. Then Louisville had five or six, and Michigan had two.

The officiating was perhaps best summed up in this: Without about five minutes to go in the game, Louisville had ten fouls against them, and Michigan had four. So whatever the case may be, Michigan can’t really complain.

The fouls only evened up because Michigan was intentionally fouling at the end.

Going into the game, I thought Louisville was the better team, even without Ware. I thought their defense was tougher. That was borne out, and is probably one reason why they had so many fouls.

In short, Michigan got outworked by a better team. And those are the two reasons they lost.

Yes, the call against Burke on the block was troubling, although the only replay they showed looked like he led with his forearm into the chest. But it was probably a bad call. It wasn’t the only one, and it wasn’t a turning point. Even if they get that call, they still have to make up six points, something which was not going to be easy in any case.

By the way, if you want to see that block done right, look up Tayshaun Prince against Reggie Miller.

Michigan was probably outcoached. Burke sitting on the bench for the bulk of the first half was a problem. As a coach, you have to expect your best players to be the best players. And you have to trust the National Player of the Year to play. You go with what got you there, and Beilein didn’t do that. Burke could have sat a long period in the second half just as well as in the first, and he may not have had to.

On the other hand, having Burke in the game at the end when you have to foul immediately was boneheaded. Burke had four and couldn’t foul.

In other words, Beilein had Burke out when he should have had him in, and had him in when he should have had him out.

And he didn’t know the foul/bonus situation.

Those are major coaching failures.

But rest easy because Michigan was in this game only by a coaching error. Bill Self of Kansas violated the primary rule of basketball: Never get tied by a three at the end of the game. Foul and send someone to the line for two at best.

If Self takes care of business there as he should have, Kansas is playing this game instead of Michigan.

At the end of the day, Louisville was the better team. They were stronger, played harder, and were better coached. That’s the reason they were the overall #1 seed.

In my view, the officiating in college basketball is way too loose. It is inconsistent because they allow so much contact and then call contact sometimes.

In my opinion, the game would be better if they started calling it right. Yes, it would hurt at the beginning of the season, but a few weeks in, the teams would learn to play with it. The game would be cleaner. It would flow better. And it would be more exciting to watch.

Ah well. There’s always next year.

At least there was for Louisville this year.

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