So I figured out why they had to raise the floor three feet in order to put the basketball floor in the center of Ford Field . . .
. . . because if they hadn’t, I would have been watching 10 floating heads bob around the court for two hours yesterday. This photo was taken from my seat for the Kansas-Davidson game. We were in the fourth row from the top of the section of temporary seats they installed around the court. The viewing angle was less than ideal, necessitating the raised floor.
I’d say this arrangement is probably OK for a Final Four, where nearly everyone in the building will be absolutely thrilled to be there. But it wasn’t the best setup for a regional final, where many fans were just local basketball fans and there were a substantial number of empty seats in the upper deck.
America’s newfound hoops hero: Stephen Curry trying to free himself. The most remarkable shooter I’ve ever seen play in person. A quick-release jumpshot with beautiful rotation and arc. And a plethora of moves to get the shot off. He wasn’t quite as efficient as he had been in previous games–25 points on 25 FG attempts, 4-16 from 3-point range–but this was against one of the elite defenses in the country.
At various points during the game, this ominous Death-Star-like object appeared above the court. Is the NCAA subconsciously admitting they’ve gone over to the dark side?
Davidson fans going nuts. For a school with a student body of 1,700, I can’t believe how many fans they had there. Seemed like there were at least 5,000 of them.
Reportedly, many students left North Carolina at 3 a.m. Sunday morning, got to Detroit just in time to see the game, and then got back on the bus to go home. That’s commitment, baby.
These were either die-hard Davidson fans or two people trying to get picked for a Wendy’s commercial.
The last shot that went awry for the Wildcats (the ball is up there somewhere against the background of the crowd), denying them the the eternal glory that would have come with crashing the Final Four in a year otherwise dominated by the major powers.
(I happened to notice today that the four #1 seeds were ranked 1-4 in both preseason polls. As improbable as all four seeds getting to the Final Four is, I’d say that the four top-ranked teams from five months ago all getting there is an even more unlikely scenario.)
It was a catch-22 for the Wildcats: run Curry off screens to try to free him, but risk him never touching the ball, or put the ball in his hands (as they did) and risk a double-team (as Kansas did). In the end, they got one fairly clean look at a 3-pointer to beat one of the top teams in the country. That’s about all you can ask for.
The final score. For all the (deserved) attention for Curry, I was actually more impressed with Davidson’s defense. They seemed to have a real knack for grabbing steals and loose balls. They forced Kansas to turn it over 14 times in 63 possessions (22.2%) and managed to get 9 offensive rebounds in 30 opportunities (30.0%) against the larger Jayhawks. And they didn’t let the more athletic perimeter players for Kansas beat them to the hoop too often
They’ll lose senior point guard Jason Richards, who showed a remarkable ability to get to the hoop before Kansas figured out they could lay off him because he couldn’t shoot, but this could still be a very good team next year that won’t sneak up on anyone.
It would’ve been great to see MSU play at Ford Field, but going to this game was a thoroughly memorable experience. And we can always dream about seeing our Spartans play in a Final Four less than two hours from East Lansing next year, right? (See how quickly I’ve gone into offseason optimism mode?)
As for the other game yesterday, I was en route to Detroit during most of it, but the highlights I’ve seen and the box score would indicate that Memphis’ dominant performance against the Spartans was no fluke. An 18-point win against a pretty talented Texas team. Rose and Douglas-Roberts combined for 46 points on just 22 FG attempts (21-25 at the line).
Certainly, we want MSU to be able to compete toe-to-toe with any opponent in the country. But no one should think that MSU lost to some decent team from a lower-tier conference. They lost to a team that has the potential to dominate any team in the country when they’re playing to their full potential.
Postscript: I was going to do a slide show like this for the Big Ten Tournament, which would have involved several extremely humorous jokes playing off the fact that Bo Ryan looks like the Badgers’ mascot. But I didn’t have the emotional ability to relive the tournament when we got back from Indianapolis. Maybe next year . . .