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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tale of two tournament shots

Had Richards' shot gone in, Chalmers wouldn't have made his

Kansas' Mario Chalmers screams with jubilation after draining a three against North Carolina in the first half of the 2008 Final Four game.

Kansas' Mario Chalmers screams with jubilation after draining a three against North Carolina in the first half of the 2008 Final Four game.

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John Raoux/AP Photo

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, front, drives around Orlando Magic guard Kevin Kruger during an NBA summer league game Friday in Orlando, Fla.

— It has become practically a ritual after each Miami Heat game at the Orlando Pro Summer League.

Mario Chalmers is approached and asked about "the shot."

The rookie guard smiles, recounts his three-pointer that sent the NCAA title game against Memphis into overtime, and then politely excuses himself without making much fuss about Kansas' national championship.

No one bothers to ask Jason Richards, the Heat's other rookie point guard, about his shot.

While Chalmers' one shining moment defined the 2007-08 college basketball season, it can be argued that a Richards flick of the wrist in that same NCAA Tournament had a far greater impact on what has followed.

For those who forget, before Chalmers exulted at the Final Four in San Antonio, he and his Kansas teammates escaped from Detroit.

That's where Richards, Stephen Curry and the upstart Davidson Wildcats nearly pulled off the tournament's ultimate upset in the Midwest Regional final.

Down two points off a timeout with 16.8 seconds to play against the Jayhawks, Davidson looked to Curry for salvation, but ultimately found Richards.

From the right baseline, Richards ran up the sideline and curled toward the center of the court, about 5 feet beyond the three-point circle. The 2007-08 NCAA Division I assist leader, in the ultimate role reversal, wound up taking the pass from Curry.

Shot went up. Buzzer sounded. Shot faded left. Shot was too strong. Kansas 59, Davidson 57.

Just over a week later, Chalmers made what Richards had missed. Three months later, Chalmers was an NBA draft pick; Richards went unselected.

Now they're Heat teammates, Chalmers on a lucrative three-year deal, Richards with a small free-agent payment to guarantee his attendance in the team's offseason workouts.

"I've been thinking of saying to Mario, 'If I made my shot, you wouldn't have made yours,'" said Richards, who seems to have come out of his moment just fine. "I mean, he's a great player. He deserves all the recognition he got. That shot he made against Memphis was tremendous."

Yes, Richards relived the moment of anguish for days, even weeks. But he has let it go, moved on, hopeful of now landing a spot on the Heat training-camp roster.

"It was a great moment in my life," he said, that moment in front of 58,000 at Ford Field still resonant. "It was a great opportunity. I mean, if I made that shot, who knows? Who knows how far we'd have gone? But I didn't. It was a great opportunity for us, and the memories are going to last forever."

The moment also resonates for Chalmers, but in a different way.

"I don't remember what I was feeling when he shot it," he said. "Maybe numb. I was just relieved."

Born into a basketball family, with his parents having both played at Pittsburgh, and with his sister Lindsay an Iowa Hawkeye, Richards appreciates the magnitude of his moment.

"One moment can change your life," he said.

If that shot goes in, Richards possibly emerges as a draft pick, Curry almost certainly trades in a Final Four moment for a spot in the lottery, Kansas perhaps doesn't have five players taken in the draft, and Chalmers very well could slip even beyond the No. 34 overall selection in the second round.

"It definitely changed mine," Richards said, "and changed a lot of people's."

Had there been no Final Four, Chalmers insists he still would have applied for the draft after his junior season.

"It was something that made me tougher, seeing what could have happened," he said. "But I think I would still be here."

Some players never escape such NCAA moments, such as Georgetown's Fred Brown mistakenly passing the ball to North Carolina's James Worthy in the 1982 title game. Others move forward, such as Chris Webber after his call for a timeout that wasn't available in the '93 championship game.

When Richards looks back, it only is with fond memories of how a small North Carolina liberal arts school of 1,700 had an eventual champion on its heels.

"People kind of knew who I was, knew what Davidson was about, but when we made that run and kind of got on a national level, people started to recognize how good we were and what I was capable of as a point guard," he said. "It propelled me into some opportunities in the NBA. It's not something I will ever want to forget."

Comments

brooksmd 11 years, 5 months ago

jhawkshocker....Live and die by the three.

yates33333 11 years, 5 months ago

Watching Davidson in the tournament I was amazed that anyone beat them. I never saw a team shoot as accurately as they did. Plus, they lacked size. What happened to Curry? Does he return to Davidson?

CaramelMacchMan 11 years, 5 months ago

What!!!!!!!He was ganna say what!! to Mario."I've been thinking of saying to Mario, 'If I made my shot, you wouldn't have made yours.'" Dude thats like bashing Mario.If i were Mario, i would response with this four words to rub it in."Great players make shots."Peace

Bleufer 11 years, 5 months ago

Whoa ralster, I didn't criticize Self's X&Os... I said Illini fans did.

atoolthatsrightatool 11 years, 5 months ago

From someone older and who shoots everyday, Richard's shot was nearly dead on accurate - trajectory and length-wise - except he didn't feel he had enough time to pause, square up and either jump straight up or straight up and slightly forward (which I think is the better technique). If he HAD paused to square up, his shot would've been more centered and balanced. A centered miss is always better than a left or right miss. He jumped to the left and so his shot WENT to the left. End of story. He didn't have much time to pause and shoot, that's for sure. Also, there was some Davidson dude ALL ALONE under the basket when that shot went up! Could've tied it. You can argue that Curry shouldn't have taken the ball up the court, but you also want to guarantee that your best player will have the ball at the end.

Toto_the_great 11 years, 5 months ago

Man, Kruger in that photo looks like his daddy.ESPN has an article about Lee's shot in the '03 title game...http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=3481053

jhawkshocker 11 years, 5 months ago

I would think the Davidson team would be looking back and thinking "We had plenty of time, why didn't we gofor a higher percentage 2 point shot and send the gameinto overtime?" But instead...........

Tuskin 11 years, 5 months ago

Richards' shot wasn't the one the team wanted. Chalmers' shot was our plan. He has hit that shot before, with the game on the line.Sure, if Richards had hit his shot, Chalmers wouldn't have hit his. But would that have changed things so much in the draft? Who the heck knows what those folks think.To my eyes, Chalmers has long demonstrated the quickness that Paul Pierce showed when he was at KU. I think he'll be great. So far, he's doing great. He's surprising the well-paid talent scouts.Apparently no one put much stock in his one "shot", which is fine, but they somehow overlooked his long history of making clutch shots and his outstanding play in general. Somehow the gurus managed to virtually overlook the players on the National Championship team just because they played so well as a Team.Doesn't that suggest that a college player wanting an NBA job should go for statistics rather than team play?

Ben Kane 11 years, 5 months ago

didn't Ill win it all right after Self left? I would doubt they think we stole the NC from them. Meanwhile, Curry is back for another year.

trich424 11 years, 5 months ago

Richards shot was a desperation 3, it wasn't like Chalmers shot. You can compare Richards shot to Robert Dozier's half court at the end of regulation.

Bob Zielinski 11 years, 5 months ago

illinois fans must be out of their minds if they don't think bill self was a great X&O's coach and also believe weber to be a good coach but poor recruiter. they should look at self's track record at oral roberts, tulsa ,illinois and KU. check out his winning percentage. investigate his tournament success, conference titles and national championship banner.weber is a huge disappointment, a great example of another missouri valley coach who can shine in the small time arena but wilts and struggles under the lights of big time college basketball at the highest level.

Bleufer 11 years, 5 months ago

JJHawk, some Illinois fans look at it that way. However, the thing that bothers most Illini fans are how Self left (essentially under the cover of darkness similar to most transferring coaches) and how he keeps "stealing" Illinois players, such as Wright and Collins (but why wouldn't they want to play at KU?). Some Illini fans don't think Illinois could have reach the title game against UNC in '05 if Self was coaching because they don't think he is much of an X&Os kind of guy (they think of Webber has an X&O's coach but not the recruiter Self is). Nevertheless, Illini fans aren't surprised that Self has a title to his name and are happy that he has one. It is similar to the Williams situation at KU: now that time has passed (and we have a national title), we remember Williams for the great coach he was and the great things he did while in Lawrence.

JJHAWK 11 years, 5 months ago

Do you ever wonder if the Illinois fans think Kansas not only stole their outstanding coach, but stole their national championship as well?

ralsterKUMed95 11 years, 5 months ago

I must disagree with Bleufer above about that same old tired comment about Self "not being an Xs/Os coach"--where you been, man?? When did it become vogue to make that comment? While we absolutely lost the KSU game in Manhattan because of poor gameplan (coaches "fault"), we totally annihilated UNC due to excellent gameplan (make psychoT play defense). And how many times did we see our team come out of a time out with a "chalkboard" or "clipboard" play?????--The national media even commented on what he may have "drawn up in the locker room". And it usually worked, so it was a correct call for the situation, and the kids were obviously coached well enough to execute it when they had to, time after time. Take another example: John Calipari can recruit too, but maybe there's your coach who is NOT an Xs/Os coach! And all this comparison between Roy and Self--how can Roy be a better Xs/Os coach when he doesnt call a timeout when his team is in trouble--rarely did it in YEARS at KU (did you forget?), and did it again in the FinalFour game vs. KU. Correct me if Im wrong, but isnt that when you are supposed to call a timeout, when your team is getting ran--you break the momentum with a timeout and a clipboard Xs/Os play!!!! Self is WAY better at this than Roy or Calipari. What more proof do you need than the last 2 KU seasons, mostly the 07-08 team, about what exactly to do with all those "atheletes" recruits? He did it by coaching complete basketball and discipline and Xs/Os, and earned the result he/we got. It is NOT 2006!--please base your opinion on recent data and observations!

John Brown 11 years, 5 months ago

What if Collins had missed the three pointer from the corner, what if Memphis had made their free throws, what if Roy coached defense instead of the run-the-score-up-over-100 points against weaker opponents style of offense, what if? Well, Chalmers made the shot when presented the opportunity and KU is the National Champion. Richards had the opportunity and missed. Curry, guy who was supposed to take the shot was well defended and Richards was ill prepared. End of story!

topekahawk 11 years, 5 months ago

do you ever wonder what would have happened if, this morning, you were reading a KU football story instead of this ? Ljw, we are 49 days from kickoff. Bball was 3 months ago!

KGphoto 11 years, 5 months ago

Uuugghh!!Just thinking about that Davidson shot, floating in the air, made me throw up in my mouth a little. Again. And I'm sure coach Self just did the same.

Keckadek 11 years, 5 months ago

I hope Richards makes it in the NBA... seems like a stretch but I like him.

ralsterKUMed95 11 years, 5 months ago

Bleufer,My reaction, certainly at this point post-season, is to that sentiment about Self and Xs/Os that I have seen before--NOT directed really at you--I realize you were just 'reporting' what some Illini may believe... While people may have had questions about Self before, I really think there is little to doubt about him anymore, so I will try to defend our head coach. I like him. A midwestern guy with strong BigXII roots. The only question about Bill Self, to me, is can he do it again (recruiting+getting them to play as a team, defense, etc.). A job made easier on him as a coach as now every top recruit for the next few yrs ought to know "KU" and just how they won it, thus will arrive somewhat prepped about what will be expected of them. And now the coaching msg day in/day out will carry the clout of ultimate success.

5DecadeHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

Everyone is forgetting defense. Remember the defensive battle that the Davidson game was?Richards seems to forget that Mario played a huge role in forcing Davidson's team into taking that very long off balanced shot. That long off balanced shot was the best shot Davidson had available on that play.Remember that Brandon Rush was guarding Curry as he brought the ball up the floor, and then Brandon fell down.Mario Chalmers was exactly in the right place to help out and Mario completely smothered Curry while Brandon got back on his feet to continue playing defense. Brandon got back on Curry as he kept dribbling around trying to find an opening. Smothering defense.Finally when Curry realized he wasn't going to get a shot, he bailed out and kicked out a pass to Richards. Where was Mario when Curry finally gave up the rock?Mario left his man while the pass was still in the air and was flying toward Richards to double team Richards and get a hand up as he relased that shot.If Mario didn't play TEAM DEFENSE as well as he does, Richards doesn't touch the ball on that play, because Curry gets a shot off while Brandon is down.If Mario didn't play TEAM DEFENSE as well as he does, maybe he's not flying at Richards while he's launching that shot. Maybe Richards would have felt more comfortable and gotten squared up. Maybe he makes his shot if Mario wasn't on the floor.Richards would be wise to not confront Mario. Richards was lucky to get the long off balanced shot that he did get.Too bad that the reporter writing the article wasn't willing to dig deeper into the play and bring out these important factors.Richards' miss wasn't bad luck. The story of that play was the incredible defense by Kansas.DEFENSE wins championships.

Sparko 11 years, 5 months ago

Chalmers was, is and has always been money. The Davidson game was not well-played; both teams were bundles of nerves. But Kansas made enough shots to win. The reality KU was facing that day was that the NCAA, CBS, and America wanted them to lose for this Cinderella stuff. Even with Davidson losing, we see columns about what might have happened. Sheez. Chalmers had the ultimate opportunity on the world stage, and he relied on his instinct and latent skill--much like Paul Pierce later--and he transformed himself into doubt-free machine.Curry should have come out this year.

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