|House of Cards|
Both teams had major contributions off the bench. When Trey Burke picked up his second personal in the first half, Shorty White (aka Spike Albrecht) went nuts and actually increased the Michigan lead. Not to be outdone, Luke Hancock (aka the bearded rain maker) came in and went bonkers, sinking his first four threes to bring the deficit to one. On the next Louisville possession the lead changed hands on what may have been the dunk of the year by Montrezl Harrel, served up by Siva (until Tim Hardaway Jr. unleashed one in the second half). By intermission the Wolverines recaptured a one point edge. Still my mind was buzzing with the two and half minute run in which the Cardinals rattled off 14 points.
|Montrezl Harrel flying for the lob.|
The second half had three primary characters, perhaps four. In my mind Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan were the difference in the final 20 minutes. The two of them were flat out playing man ball. Chane's effort on the glass epitomized the will to outwork everyone else down low, pure hustle. He was in beast mode and Peyton Siva was orchestrating both the team and the tempo. Not only does Siva work his ass off on both ends of the floor, he's also the calm within the Cardinal storm. He seemingly does what needs to be done, creating a frenzy while simultaneously staying under control. The guards of Louisville are absolutely relentless in their ball pressure. It's fun to watch and nice to know that some teams still get after it on the defensive end. Trey Burke had his game back on track too. The Naismith and Wooden award winner played his heart out. Time and time again Trey drilled clutch shots, in both half court sets and at the charity stripe. The sophomore point guard lead all scorers with 24. Let's not forget about Luuuuke... he ended up with an ultra efficient 22 points (5/5 from three, 7/10 from the line and only one missed field goal). Hell, Louisville might not have even made the title game without his clutch shooting against the Shockers of Wichita State. Hancock walked away with the M.O.P award. He registered 44 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 0 turnovers during the final four. Not bad for a transfer who comes off the bench.
What a year for the college basketball junkie, I thoroughly enjoyed this march through madness. The games and the story lines were superb. Congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals, they earned this national title. Coached by the hall-of-famer Rick Pitino, the Cardinals won a third national championship for their university. Pitino also became the first coach to win titles at two different schools. Mad props to both teams, it was one hell of a display in effort and skill. Dare I say it had the feel of an NBA game. In my dream world everyone would return for another year of college, yep only in my dreams.