FELDY: So the petty bitterness toward North Carolina coach Roy Williams is now gone, at least on my part. I'm sure their are Kansas basketball fans who will never get over Williams leaving KU to go to UNC just days after KU lost to Syracuse in the 2003 national championship game.
Last night's emphatic KU win should end all of the hatred on their fans part toward Williams. KU is coached by Bill Self now, and Self outcoaches Williams last night in the Jayhawks 18-point national semifinal win. It sets up a national title game that should be a blast to watch, with KU facing run-and-gun Memphis on Monday night.
Some thoughts on last night's national semifinals:
MEMPHIS 78, UCLA 63 -- I hadn't seen much of the Tigers this year, but after seeing them last night, Derrick Rose sure would like nice in a Timberwolves uniform next year (by the way, this is another topic for another day, but what does it say about the state of recent Wolves' drafts that fans would love to see them draft a guard AGAIN this year?). Memphis' starting backcourt is absolutely outstanding, Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Just like KU did later last night to UNC's Tyler Hansbrough, Memphis was able to control UCLA big man Kevin Love, who scored just 12 points and just two in the second half. How about the job Joey Dorsey did on Love? Dorsey didn't score but he had 15 rebounds -- FIFTEEN! -- and a couple of big blocked shots down the stretch that zapped any momentum UCLA built. It will be interesting to see how Dorsey handles himself against KU's four-man big-man rotation.
Memphis obviously wants to beat Kansas on Monday, but the Tigers have already made history. For a No. 1 seed that got little respect coming into the tournament and even throughout it, the Tigers are opening a lot of eyes for people who hadn't watched them much this season and wrote them off because they don't come from a power conference. Their win over UCLA last night set an NCAA record for wins in a season (the Tigers are 38-1).
KU 84, UNC 66 -- * How about the effort from former Minnesota Mr. Basketball, Cole Aldrich, against UNC's Tyler Hansbrough? Aldrich was as key as just about any other Jayhawk in their big 25-2 first-half run. He frustrated Hansbrough with solid defense and even took a couple of rebounds away from Hansbrough, which rarely happens. To play the way Aldrich did, as a freshman, was impressive. He had at least one big blocked shot in that first-half stretch that got his teammates up off the bench waving towels and hollering. KU coach Bill Self said, "I thought Cole was the best player in the game for a stretch in the first half. We're playing out of foul trouble and we didn't have to play out of kilter because he was so good. He may have won the game for us as much as anybody because he brought us so many great minutes."
* KU's Bill Self outcoached UNC's Roy WIlliams. From the start, KU had a better gameplan. The first few trips down the floor, Hansbrough was fronting either Darrell Arthur or Darnell Jackson, and KU's guards floated passes over Hansbrough for layups. Then, in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the game, with UNC down by only 12 points, for three consecutive trips down the floor, Hansbrough started the offensive set beyond the three-point line, and, point guard Ty Lawson wasn't even on the floor! I'm no basketball genius, but it seems to me that, when you're trying to come back late in a game, you'd want your best big man playing near the basket, and you'd want the guy who runs your offense, on the floor running your offense.
* Not much was mentioned during or after the game on CBS, but for all of the hype surrounding the four point guards in yesterday's games, KU's Russell Robinson was the second-best of the four on Saturday. Clearly, Derrick Rose of Memphis had an outstanding game, but Robinson was by far the least-hyped of the four, yet he was more efficient than UNC's Ty Lawson or Darren Collison of UCLA. Robinson only had seven points (including a big 3-pointer on one of KU's first possessions of the game), but he also had four rebounds, four assists, three steals and just one turnover.