05 April 2008


OK, so I had nothing much right in my March Madness picks--nothing, that is, except the first of the two teams to play for the National Championship. That would be Memphis, formerly Memphis State. A couple of comments:

  • I've watched very little of the tourney, but Don was absolutely right about Billy Packer. He was a total homer for UCLA the entire game, describing them like they were some 20-point favorites who were just laying in the weeds throughout the game.
  • Not once did the announcers talk about the Memphis offense, and that is really the secret of this team. The Dribble Drive Motion offense, described in SI, has a similarity to the Spread Offense sweeping NCAA football. Vance Walberg developed the offense while coaching a Fresno junior college, and credit Calipari with discovering a diamond in the rough when he saw it.
  • I've seen Memphis play live twice, once last season and once this season. The difference in the offense is night and day. Last season, they looked like an undisciplined mess on the floor. Now, it's systematic chaos.
  • Can you imagine a better NBA training than running this offense for Calipari? Beat your man off the dribble, then either take your shot or kick it out for a three or another penetration. No more boring isolations, two-man pick-and-roll, or high screens. This is the playground with discipline.
  • Finally, think about this for a second: Memphis didn't play a great game. Sure, they made free throws (thankfully). Simply put, they lined up and were superior at every facet of the game. This was not a team with no room for error. Hardly.
  • UCLA was overconfident and did not play with desperation. The winner of the second game needs to come with that sense of urgency if they are going to have a chance.
  • I have no opinion in the second game, but to that end I think Kansas will be a more desperate team going after Memphis than North Carolina will.
If you TiVo'd the game, go back and watch these guys. I really think this is a special team.


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