In my neverending effort to see support for my preferences in every sporting event, I watched Sean May lead North Carolina to a national title last night and I kept thinking about the fact that he would probably be wasting away at Indiana if not for Bob Knight advising Scott May to send his child to Indiana. Now, at the time, Matt Doherty was the coach at UNC, so the advice wasn't entirely sound (unless the goal was to find a temperamental tyrant to coach Sean, not that Bobby would know what one looks like.) Still, Knight's powers work in mystical ways. He must have know that Roy Williams would come to Carolina and guide the Heels to immortality. So, Tar Heels, you can thank the coach who's just a little bit better than Dean Smith.
Other game thoughts:
1. I like Billy Packer because he's willing to criticize whereas other announcers do their damnedest to avoid any form of negativity at all. Last night was a perfect example. Packer pointed out that the officials weren't calling illegal screens and then jumped on the case when Jack Ingram did his best Orlando Pace impression to set up Luther Head for an open three late in the game. And don't give me this crap about the refs "letting the players decide the game." If they let illegal screens go and Illinois won because of that competitive advantage, then the refs would still be deciding the game. I suppose a late call would have been unfair because they were letting illegal screens go all game, which means that refs should make that call early to set the limits from the start.
1a. Packer also wasn't afraid to point out that Marvin Williams had a major case of stage fright. Can you imagine Dick Vitale ever saying that, assuming arguendo that he removed his lips from J.J. Redick's...?
2. If Carolina would have lost, then the howls of criticism regarding Roy Williams' coaching decisions would have been intense, mainly because Sean May was unstoppable, but Carolina barely got the ball to him when Illinois was making their late run to tie the game. That criticism would have been partially wrong because May was clearly tired and was not active in making himself available for passes late in the game. Still, Carolina's late-game offensive strategy was questionable, which illustrates the fact that winning or losing often clouds our judgment of individual merit. Roy Williams was a very good coach before he won a national title, but he's not any better now that he's won one. On the flipside, the fact that he won his first title last night doesn't mean that he coached his best game.
3. Sean May was the best player on the floor last night, but Raymond Felton was arguably Carolina's MVP. That team was TERRIBLE when he wasn't on the floor. Also, the two biggest late plays for the Heels were 1) his three when Illinois was on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 65 and his sweet steal when the Heels were defending their two-point lead.
4. I wish I would have started this blog in February so I could have made the "Illinois' weak post play will be their undoing" post. I also wish I would have posted my Thursday morning epiphany that Carolina and not Illinois was going to win the whole shebang. You'll have to take my word for it. Despite getting the champion and three Final Four teams right, I only finished fourth in my office pool. Thanks, Andy Bogut.
5. Last night got me to thinking that if the Hawks could trade the #1 pick for two later lottery picks and then take Deron Williams (Andre Miller, part two?) and Sean May (Elton Brand without the shot-blocking,) they would be doing pretty well for themselves. Hell, May and Felton would suit me fine. (SportsGuy's Felton/Chauncey Billups comparison is interesting, although Chauncey was stronger in college.)
6. Bruce Weber, if you dress like Lou Henson, then your team is going to underachieve like a Lou Henson team. (Speaking of another topic about which Bobby Knight was absolutely right.) That said, Illinois runs beautiful offensive sets. They're a lot of fun to watch and I hope that Weber is able to convince future generations of Illini to move without the ball and pass like this year's team did.
Anyway, congrats to Carolina. After two straight years of Northeastern teams winning the title, it's nice to see college basketball's big prize returning below the Mason-Dixon line.