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Archive for Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Extra Minutes: Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT)

April 8, 2008

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2008 NCAA Tournament

2008 NCAA Tournament

Get your March Madness fix at KUSports.com.

NCAA Championship Game

Some thoughts ... from San Antonio

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor

"Mario Chalmers practically yawned when talking about hitting the biggest shot in school history, a low-key quality that made him the right guy to take it. The national champions can lay claim to being the best team (in every sense of the word) in Kansas history."

Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor

"For anyone who didn't want to believe all year that KU did in fact have a go-to guy, may you forever be quieted. The best part about Chalmers' final shot was that it came on the same play which did not work at Oklahoma State and Texas in regular season losses. Chalmers, whose unwavering confidence was a big part of what made him KU's most clutch player all season, got off a pure, smooth shot fading to his left even with a hand in his face. Bill Self told his team in late-game huddles that the breaks would come, but his team would need to capitalize when they did. The fact that his talented, experienced team came through is a testament to just how great and unique a group this was."

Ryan Wood, Journal-World sports reporter

"One of the great NCAA championship games of all-time. And Mario Chalmers' shot will go down as one of the biggest in NCAA championship history. It was that large. This was an obvious sign that grit can take a talented team to the top. Kansas was down 60-51 with 2:12 left, and used hustle (Sherron Collins' steal) and talent (Chalmers' three) to claw back into it. Memphis didn't help itself by clanking free throw after free throw. In the end, the Jayhawks did what a champion does - never gave up, never gave in, and furiously pounced when Memphis gave them a chance."

Inside the numbers

15: Even though his scoring numbers throughout the Tournament's final weekend may have not made him an obvious choice for the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, Mario Chalmers succeeded with what got him by all season long - his ability to do a bit of everything. In the season's final game (and possibly his last as a Jayhawk), Chalmers had 18 points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds. The MOP honors guaranteed that after his KU career is done, at some point his No. 15 will hang from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters.

20: Darrell Arthur is known as quite possibly the most laid back guy on KU's roster, but something was different Monday. Sherron Collins said it was the fact that the sophomore forward was talking all day, taking everything more seriously. He was incredible, posting his fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The scoring came on efficient 9-of-13 shooting, as he helped lead the three-headed monster of himself, Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson, who combined for 32 points and 20 rebounds. Most importantly, all three stayed out of foul trouble.

3: When Memphis players, coaches and fans look back on this game in the future, the one thing which may stick out more than anything could be the three key free throw misses in the final moments of regulation. Chris Douglas-Roberts missed his final three tries from the stripe before overtime (his only three misses there on the night), and Derrick Rose missed the front end of a two-shot trip with just under 11 seconds to play. That opened the door for Chalmers' heroics instead of potentially sealing the Tigers' first ever national title. Memphis was 12-of-19 from the stripe, while KU was 14-of-15.

39: Memphis hit just 25 of its 62 field goal attempts on the night, and KU did an excellent job of holding the Tigers to just nine second-chance points. The big number there was KU's 39 rebounds, outdoing Memphis by 11 on the boards. Of KU's 39 caroms collected, 30 were grabbed on the defensive glass.

34: The two teams combined to shoot 34 three-pointers (KU was 3-of-12, Memphis 6-of-22), but very, very few of those were open looks. This game was played very much in Memphis' patented style, which included plenty of one-on-one situations inside of the arc. That said, KU was 26-of-43 from two-point range, with Memphis going 19-of-40.

Just in case you missed it...

In KU's last national title game appearance in 2003, the one thing which was left for fans and critics to harp on was the Jayhawks' free throw shooting, hitting just 12 of 30 attempts in a loss to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. On Monday, KU went 14-of-15 from the line, including a 6-of-6 showing from Mario Chalmers. It was the perfect answer to Memphis' struggles at the stripe - which went against what the Tigers did at the line throughout much of the postseason - as John Calipari's club was 12-of-19.

Hopefully you didn't miss it...

Whether Bill Self wanted to admit it afterwards or not, winning the school's first national championship in 20 years (and third NCAA crown since 1952) made him both royalty in Lawrence forever and put him on another level in terms of the coaching ladder. Forever, he will have a national championship attached to most references of his name. That said, it's now time for a big raise from Lew Perkins, especially with the never-dying rumors of Oklahoma State being ready to break the bank to bring Self back to his alma mater.

They said it...

Rodrick Stewart on being the lucky charm behind the bench: "I hope I was. We won, that's really all that matters ... It's a better feeling, just knowing my last game as a Jayhawk we won. I was gonna joke around with coach Self and say 'Just put me in the game with one second to go on my crutches,' but I didn't want to chance that. But it's a good feeling."

Sherron Collins on knowing when his team would win: "Once they gave us a chance to get back in it, we just knew we were gonna come out and jump on 'em. And that's what we did. We knew we were gonna win it after regulation was over."

Sherron Collins on Memphis' athleticism and KU's underrated athleticism: "This was the most athletic team we played all year. Texas is athletic, too, but this is the most athletic team we played all year. We're athletic, too. Those were the questions. They said we couldn't run with North Carolina, how will we stop them, how we would stop Memphis, but no questions about how they'd stop us. We run all day, and that's what we do. And that's why we came out on top today."

Sherron Collins on where this ranks accomplishments in his life: "This is the most, besides my son, this is probably the best thing, and I wouldn't exchange it for nothing in the world."

Sherron Collins on what got into Darrell Arthur: "I think it clicked to him to win big. He was in a different mindset. Everything was serious. He just wanted to win. It was great for him and I was happy for ... He was talking. That's what we needed him to do. He was talking today, when he was on the court, he let you know where everything was at."

Darrell Arthur on being with his family afterwards: "They were bawlin' out there, cryin' so hard. I just hugged em after the game, and just told me they were so proud of me, and I just told them I loved them. It's just a great feeling just to win it. I never lost in a championship game, and I've just gotta add this one to the collection."

Darrell Arthur on shedding some tears after getting to his family: "I was trying to hold it back, but it started coming out. Those were just tears of happiness. It was crazy out there. I don't know how we won that game, but we found a way to win it, came back and held our own ... I cried after a couple losses in high school, but I never cried after a win."

Darrell Arthur on being a talkative force Monday: "I just knew we had to take it from 'em. I knew it was gonna be a hard-fought game, we just had to bring some motivation to the team, so I was just doing what I had to do to keep guys' spirits lifted."

Darrell Arthur on the Mario Chalmers play: "I didn't know what was going to happen, but I knew coach told us to put it in Mario's hands. He's been phenomenal with it, being in his position at the end of games. He did it against Texas last year, did it against Oklahoma a couple years back, and he's just a clutch player at this time."

Darrell Arthur on KU controlling the paint: "We were just trying to attack those guys and get those guys in foul trouble. I thought we did a great job on Dorsey, just putting a body on him. He was frustrated the whole game, crying to the refs and things like that, and I just thought we did a great job on him."

Darrell Arthur on this being a potential fitting ending to his KU career: "If it is, I can't think of a better way, but I'm just trying to enjoy the moment right now, not even thinking about it for another couple of weeks or so. I'll talk to my family, see what they want to do and go from there."

Darnell Jackson on Darrell Arthur: "After he kept scoring, he kept talking, and he kept telling guys we needed to rebound ... I just said keep running, hang it loose to darrell because he was hot."

Darnell Jackson on the emotional meaning of the win: "Everybody in this locker room has been through so much. Everybody's mother, dad, they're always there for us, they're at every game cheering for us. And sometimes, the parents get into it more than we do. And it's just so fun seeing them over there reacting ... After the game, everybody was over there crying because they knew we could do it and we believed we could do it, too."

Brandon Rush on his upcoming NBA decision: "I'm not thinking about nothing right now, just gonna wait it out and see what happens."

Brandon Rush on winning the title to cap his comeback: "It definitely feels good right now, just because this was one of my main goals coming back from my ACL surgery. And then I went up to the crowd to talk to my grandma. And my grandma was like 'I told you things happen for a reason.' I started smiling and gave her a big hug."

Mario Chalmers on his last-second shot history: "I've got a couple real ones, but I've got a lot of them from when I was little. It was something I always wanted to do, something I always practiced ... It's just a great feeling. Coach Self comes up with the perfect plays for the perfect opportunities, and this one worked for us."

Bill Self on talking to his team late in regulation: "The thing that I told them was that we will get a break, and when we catch a break, we've got to get one stop at a time and go score ... The breaks were that they missed one of two and they missed two of two, and Sherron made an unbelievable play to get the steal and then make the three in the corner ... That play right there just got us right back in it."

Bill Self on reflecting on his first Final Four: "This whole weekend's been a blur to me. Really the last eight or nine day's been a blur. It didn't seem it was in the air any longer than Davidson's was in the air, that's for sure. But isn't it a fine line between winning and losing when that could have ended our season? And then of course we make the same shot that they missed, and in athletics you understand it if you're around it every day."

Bill Self on how he's viewed now as a national championship winner: "I don't buy into all that stuff. The outside public may view people that win a championship differently, but coaches know you don't get smarter because a hard shot goes in or doesn't go in. I'm proud of our guys, happy for everybody involved, but I don't see it that way."

Bill Self on where this team ranks in KU history: "Kansas basketball, Dr. Naismith and Rupp and Allen and Owens and Brown and Williams and Wilt and you go on and on and on, there's so many great teams. This is the winningest team in the history of the program. And I told them tonight you'll remember it as the best team ever in the history of the program if we take care of business tonight, and that to me is very humbling to think of all the great players and all the great teams, and this one will go down as the best ever. And it's humbling to have a chance to work with that group of guys."

Bill Self on where his senior class ranks in KU history: "It's one of the winningest classes ever. Think about it, this senior class has won seven conference conference championships - four leagues, three conference tournaments - and a national championship. It's got to go down as maybe not the winningest class from a numbers standpoint, but it's got to go down as one of the best classes ever. Not the best players, not scored the most points, but gave us a chance to win every night."

Bill Self on the swirling Oklahoma State rumors: "If somebody from OSU calls me, I'm not gonna not take the call. That's my alma mater and I know people down there, but they haven't contacted me. And I said this last week, I would recommend they go in a different direction. I still feel that. I'm not gonna say that that couldn't potentially happen, because I guess it potentially can, but I want to visit with my athletic director because, to be real honest with you, I love Kansas. I love my job here, and hopefully it can be a situation where I can spend a long time here, and I'm certainly not looking to leave. But Lew and I got to visit, and I'm sure that'll happen the next couple days."

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