Peyton Siva's dad sat right behind me at courtside at the Final Four in Atlanta. I snapped this picture with an iPhone as Siva came over to hug his father just after the final buzzer in Louisville's 82-76 win.
What a game this was -- this national championship win by Louisville over Michigan. This was the sort of free-flowing game that makes me realize what we've been missing too often in college basketball, which bogs down so often in a swamp of hand-checking, quick fouls and missed shots.
This game -- played before 74,326 in the Georgia Dome, the largest crowd ever for a national final -- was worthy of a championship. Michigan shot 52 percent -- and lost! There was an incredible play just about every minute.
In the first half, Spike Albrecht -- who almost went to Appalachian State -- was an unlikely star for Michigan, scoring 17 points. But he was ultimately eclipsed by Luke Hancock, Louisville's superb sixth man who scored 22 and was the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. And both of them were eclipsed by Michigan's Trey Burke (24 points) and Louisville's Siva (18 points, five assists, four steals), as they pinballed around the court throughout the second half and collided above the rim on one spectacular play, when Burke blocked a dunk by Siva -- cleanly, I thought -- but was called for the foul.
It was a great end to what was too often an ugly college basketball season, both on and off the court (the Rutgers coaching scandal, the number of games where scores were in the 50s and so on). And it also shows us exactly why college basketball absolutely must change its defensive rules to allow players to cut through the lane without getting mauled every time. Despite its problems, basketball can be a beautiful sport. This was evidence.
11 months ago