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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tigers lament loss

'I thought we were national champs'

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2008 NCAA Tournament

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NCAA Championship Game

— With 10.8 seconds left in regulation on Monday, Memphis basketball coach John Calipari told his team to foul when Kansas University inbounded the ball down three.

But KU's Sherron Collins slipped away and dished the ball to Mario Chalmers, who drilled the game-trying three-point shot with 2.1 seconds left. Kansas went on to win, 75-68 in overtime, to claim the 2008 NCAA championship.

"He got away from our man," Calipari said of Collins.

It turned out to be a lesser-known yet huge turning point in Monday's thrilling game. Chalmers' ensuing three-pointer completed a comeback after Memphis led by as many as nine with 2:12 to play.

"I thought we were national champs," Calipari said. "That's the great thing about college basketball and sports. Within 30 seconds, they make a play, and it's OT, and it's on again."

Chalmers' heroics had a lot to do with it, but Memphis ultimately will blame itself for allowing the comeback to take place. All along, the Tigers were told that their shaky free-throw shooting could doom them. All along, Calipari was adamant that it wouldn't.

But it did. Chris Douglas-Roberts missed two charities with 16.8 seconds left, and Derrick Rose missed one with 10.8 remaining. The door was cracked, and the Jayhawks dropped the shoulder and busted it down.

"It came back and bit us," said Douglas-Roberts, who led Memphis with 22 points. "We missed 'em. We missed 'em at a crucial time."

It was especially cruel, because it was all set up for Memphis to win its first championship in school history. Destiny seemed on the Tigers' side when Rose nailed a bank-shot with 4:14 left to put Memphis up 56-49. The Tigers (38-2) eventually stretched the lead to 60-51 after two Robert Dozier free throws with 2:12 to go.

Douglas-Roberts hit two free throws with 1:39 left to put Memphis up 62-56, but the knees started wobbling after that. Kansas, as a championship team would, used the Tigers' weakness against them and completed a furious comeback.

Calipari remained stubborn about the importance of free-throw shooting when speaking to the media afterward. But he did realize the magnitude of what was lost once the confetti stopped dropping to the Alamodome court.

"I'm still kind of numb, to be honest with you," Calipari said. "It will probably hit me like a ton of bricks tomorrow. We had it in our grasp."

Comments

Steve Gantz 6 years, 6 months ago

That's got to be the dumbest comment I've ever seen on this site. How do you know Jesse Jackson doesn't like Kansas too?

Dr_Hawkenstein 6 years, 6 months ago

that one will get me by for another 20 years if necessary. how great is it to be a jayhawk right now! they never gave up, what a game!

canhawk91 6 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. Memphis made a great run and their efforts on the court should not be sullied by ridiculous comments about political figures. Instead why not focus on the great D played by the Hawks throughout the entire game, eh?

Kevin Long 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm getting a little annoyed with people saying Memphis blew it. How about crediting Kansas for never giving up. It's just like the Orange Bowl, VT blew it we didn't win. It pisses me off!

fansincewilt 6 years, 6 months ago

I actually would like to return sooner than 20 years for a national championship. Bill Self recruited and developed a team to get there in five years. I think every four or five years would be good. Larry Brown was a coach that could get there quickly. I think Self is as well. I doubt that it will take him 20 years to get his second.

ralsterKUMed95 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, say whatever they want about how Memphis "lost it" in regulation, but at 63-63 tied at the start of OT (ie: NEW GAME!!!!!), it could yet have been anybody's game, as it might as well have been zero-zero for a 5min game--> and KU just took it away solidly with a flourish of offense and defense and its own clutch FT shooting (93% for the game). Of course, its not exactly that simple...after giving the game away in regulation from the FT line, there had to be butterflies-a'churning for Memphis--a hard feeling to overcome and stay aggressive and focused. They had lost their edge. Many KU players quoted as "knew we would win when we got to OT...". KU had gained the mental edge.

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