Hindsight is a cruel gift. You realize that focusing on one flaw can obscure the total picture.
In doing so, I proudly pronounced that there was no way Memphis would be able to overcome their suspect free-throw percentage and would be exposed by the first talented team. They nearly were undone by a Mississippi State squad who had done well in a watered-down SEC.
But as the tournament has progressed so has Memphis’ percentage at the charity stripe. Tonight it was a robust 87 percent.
But let's face it— it wasn't the freebies that propelled the Mud Bengals to Monday.
Three NBA clones shut down one NBA clone. Memphis has the all-stars UCLA lacks.
Derrick Rose (aka Chris Paul) controlled the game from the tip. Few point guards have his ability to score, rebound, and distribute with equal facility. He also shut down two point guards who were considered the class of their conference in Darren Collison and D.J. Augustin.
Joey Dorsey (aka Ben Wallace) dominated the second half without scoring a point.
Kevin Love (aka Bill Walton) had a decent first half and looked ready to lead the Bruins to another comeback. Then Dorsey changed the Westwood Wonders' entire offensive plan. Mysteriously, Love disappeared, reduced to getting shut out for scraps to get points. Dorsey completely took him out of the game.
Finally, Chris Douglas-Roberts (aka Rip Hamilton) filled up the basket.
Ben Howland was forced to use a combination of Russell Westbrook and Josh Shipp on CDR. While it didn't affect Westbrook too much on the offensive end, it neutralized Shipp. What CDR lacks in biceps he makes up for in shiftiness and off-the-ball moves.
Some question whether he will have the physical makeup to succeed at the next level. He may not be a complete player but will certainly be valued for his ability to put points on the board.
Now, the comparison of UCLA to the Buffalo Bills begin. But unlike their NFL brethren, I think the loss of Love (yes, I see him heading for the dollar signs) will leave them coming up a little short of the fourth straight Final Four. Like the Bills, regardless of the lack of rings, that's a heck of an accomplishment in this day and age of parity.
Now excuse me while I toss my bracket into the fire.