NCAA Final Four: Four Heroes of the Four Top Seeds
Despite a heck of an effort from Davidson, history was made Sunday as the death of Cinderella was announced on the college hoops scene.
Many of the underdogs weep at the sight of four one-seeds competing on Saturday. Even this writer was nudging the Wildcats toward a shot at upsetting the apple cart.
But after inspecting the key players for each of the top dogs, it's obvious that first looks don't reveal the stars that lie within.
Kevin Love would be the mechanic in town who doesn't rip you off, or the plumber who finishes quickly without abusing his hourly rate by reading Playboy.
This may sound like blasphemy, but Gus the friendly mechanic/plumber is the closest thing the college b-ball scene has had to Larry Bird since...Larry Bird. (Sorry, Gonzaga fans.)
Notice how he rips off 40-foot outlet passes before the defense is allowed to get set. Even though he can't jump Drive: The Story of My Life, he manages four or five blocks a game with impeccable timing and awareness.
He is the complete package as a big man.
Tyler Hansbrough would be the man who comes home from the Middle East as a small-town war hero, still polite enough to "sir" and "ma'am" you to death even though he's held as a paragon in the Ozarks. There is no slack in No. 50's game. But it's not all effort.
He has a better understanding of rebounding position and more passion than all the fours in the game today.
Sasha Kaun isn't the first Jayhawk name to roll off the lips of the college hoops public discussing Kansas stars. But this Soviet via Florida has survived the death of his father and a brutal computer science major to give KU vastly needed inside presence in today's dogfight.
Since Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins were outplayed by Jason Richards and Stephen Curry, the name synonymous with 80s funk laid down a paint groove that kept the 'Hawks dancing.
And Derrick Rose—who of these four is the person most likely identified from a lineup by a cave dweller as a basketball player—overcame a fair of needles and led a group of more experienced players to Memphis' first Final Four in 23 years.
Rose is definitely the stud of these four and his height at the point guard position will create a nightmare for years to come.
But the complete meltdown at the prospect of getting stitches humanizes the machine, making him come to our level—if only for a moment.
So while those of us who love the underdog will have to wait till '09, we realize, upon further inspection, that the chalk doesn't offer the traditional glamour.
Savor these players in what should be a very competitive weekend.
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