#9: Rock Chalk and AWE!

Oh YEAH! My Jayhawks are national champs, outlasting Memphis 75-68 in OT. Seems like a first, even though we did this twenty years ago (so let’s count it as a Fab First)! Throughout the tournament, I’d been angling for the twentieth-anniversary storyline, and was I ever delighted to see that come about! Of course, as my viewing buddies will attest, with a little over four minutes to go in regulation, right after young Derrick Rose hit an unbelievable jump shot, I was convinced Memphis would win. Then that miraculous two minutes and twelve seconds of laserlike focus and mojo unfolded, the equivalent of a two-minute drill if there ever was such a thing in hoops! The state of Kansas now has another term in its lexicon: The Shot! Not to mention the 2008 version of Danny and the Miracles, this one known as Mario and the Miracles!

So what made the difference?

  • Free throws in the last four minutes, both made (KU) and unmade (Memphis)
  • KU’s pesky –– check that, relentless –– defense, which was largely ignored by the media in the run-up to the Big Game!
  • Points in the paint: KU 44, Memphis 26
  • Rebounds: KU 39, Memphis 28
  • Typical KU bench support: KU 15, Memphis 2

What I thought was very telling is that if you line up KU’s average statistics for the whole year against its stats for the Memphis game, they were all pretty much in synch, while Memphis was off in several categories.

I could feel for Memphis on that free-throw thing. After all, I sat through that ultra-painful KU loss to Syracuse (78-81) in 2005, in which KU went 12 of 30 from the line. OUCH!

All of this happened so fast, I didn’t even write about KU’s other spectacular Final Four game, against North Carolina on April 5. I watched it in real time, then turned around and watched it again via DVR! Like many of the KU faithful, I still had not quite forgiven Roy for his departure, even though I’m a huge believer in Bill Self. After KU trounced Carolina, my gritchy feelings about Roy were assuaged. Then during the Memphis game, when the camera panned to Roy in the stands wearing a Jayhawk sticker, I must confess, I got a bit teary. That did it! All is forgiven, Roy!

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