After Memphis forward Robert Dozier made two free throws to put the Tigers up by nine points with just two minutes left in the NCAA title game against Kansas, the entire state of Tennessee started the trek on-line to purchase the official “Memphis Tigers 2008 National Champions” apparel.
Expect a delay of about a season on that order.
Watching the collapse of a team that knew it would win the ugliest trophy in sports after surviving the most exciting three weeks all year long, you just have to feel for Memphis. Using the “Hack-A-Tiger” defense, the Kansas Jayhawks saw the best two players on the floor for Memphis miss four consecutive free throws at the biggest part of the most important game.
Chris Douglas-Roberts finished the national championship game as the high scorer with 22 points. If he makes one free throw, the almost certain NBA Draft lottery pick becomes the Most Outstanding Player in San Antonio. Even if the Jayhawks win the game, Douglas-Roberts picks up one of the most sought after individual awards in sport. But he choked. He missed three straight free throws and brought a championship banner to Lawrence, Kansas.
Basketball may be the only sport where momentum swivels around and waits for someone to grab it and make it their own. In college basketball, more than any other sport, you need to control the pace of the game in the last few minutes. You can’t be afraid of the opportunity right in front of you.
In a marvelous championship game on Monday night in the Alamodome, Kansas won and Memphis lost. That’s why the FedEx shipment of hats and t-shirts goes to Allen Fieldhouse and not to the Forum near Beale Street.
Or, if you’re a Memphis fan, think about it this way. You can probably pick up some inaccurate “Memphis Tigers 2008 National Champions” garb at a reduced price somewhere. I’ll throw in a hat at no cost if you can make a free throw.