Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Get your March Madness fix at KUSports.com.
San Antonio All it took was Darrell Arthur opening his mouth.
Seriously, that's it.
Once the Kansas University sophomore started flapping his gums in the hours leading up to Monday's national championship - won by the Jayhawks, 75-68, in overtime - Sherron Collins knew this was a special occasion.
"That's when he just dominates games. It's when he's at his best," Collins said of his teammate's history on talkative gamedays. "I think it clicked to him to win big. He was in a different mind-set. Everything was serious."
And Arthur responded with the most memorable - and possibly final - performance of his two-year KU career. In a game which hinged largely on which big men could outdo the others, Arthur paced the Jayhawk forwards with 20 points and 10 rebounds - his fourth double-double of the season and first since Feb. 27. His points came on efficient 9-of-13 shooting, and his final stat line also included a steal and an assist.
"I just knew we had to take it from 'em," Arthur said. "I thought we did a great job just putting the body on them, keeping them frustrated, not let them get easy paint, just try to take it to them on the offensive end."
Arthur's numbers were the cornerstone in a noticeable advantage between KU's big three in the paint and Memphis'. Between Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun, there were 32 points scored and 20 rebounds torn down. Memphis' Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart totaled 19 and 15, respectively.
The Jayhawk forwards also were able to play with a little more freedom, for the most part avoiding foul trouble (Arthur had three fouls, Kaun two and Jackson one). The same could not be said for Dorsey, who fouled out late in regulation, allowing the KU bigs to do even more in overtime following Mario Chalmers' Ã¼ber-clutch three with :02.1 to go.
They played a big part in stomping the throat in overtime, first with Arthur finishing a lob toss from Chalmers for the second basket in the extra frame (Arthur's final hoop of the night), then with Jackson slipping in two off a dish by Arthur a minute later to put KU up by six.
"Shady, he said 'We're gonna win this game' (after the layup)," Jackson recalled. "After he kept scoring, he kept talking, kept telling guys we needed to rebound. I just said keep running, hang it loose to Darrell because he was hot."
While Arthur kept it cool during the game, he couldn't help but join his teammates in letting some tears flow afterward, making his way to the stands to hug first his mother, Sandra, then his grandmother, Ruby. The two most important women in his life were already sobbing when he arrived.
"I was trying to hold it back, but it started coming out," Arthur said. "I cried after a couple losses in high school, but I never cried after a win."
Arthur's family will also be integral in his next big step: deciding whether to stay for a junior season or enter the NBA Draft. He said the family will talk over the next week or two and ultimately come to a decision, but Arthur said he'd rather enjoy this moment first to its fullest.
"If it is (the end)," Arthur said, "I can't think of a better way."