As an admitted, not yet in recovery hoopaholic, I saw every dribble, Friday through Monday. Except, I’ll admit, for a moment or two at the fridge for just a smidge more guac. And the periodic nature’s calling moments. I took notes. This first edition includes a few random thoughts about what transpired on the hardwood. You’ve already read enough I am so very sure. Coming soon, some snark, the peripheral stuff.
The most impressive performance: Destanni Henderson.
Setting aside for a moment how she completely shut down U of L sparkplug Hailey Van Lith, Henderson totally dominated South Carolina’s title game spanking of UConn.
Yes, Aliyah Boston was all that. 11 and 16 against the Huskies. An obvious winner of the FF MOP award, combining that with her presence in the semi against the Cards. But Ms. Destanni was all that, plus much more in the final.
Career high and game leading 27 points. She controlled tempo. She set the Gamecock O in motion throughout.
Plus, as she did checking HVL, she throttled the nation’s most talented baller for the entirety. That would be Paige Bueckers.
One thing struck me as a Louisville fan. Henderson is 5-7. The same height as Van Lith. But with significantly more savvy and experience.
Which is to say, and it’s only partially wishful thinking with a lot of expectation, HVL will be kicking it up a notch or four next campaign. Given her legendary drive and work ethic, I wouldn’t be surprised if she passed on spring break at the beach to break down film, work on her game.
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U of L fans do not especially cotton to Armando Bacot. That arm bar to Syd Curry’s neck, don’t you know.
Credit where it’s due.
Bacot had six double doubles in North Carolina’s six tourney tilts. Which is unprecedented. As in, it’s never been done before.
Plus in the title game, he was competing on one wheel. With a flat and out of camber, he still went 15 and 15. And who knows what mighta coulda happened, if the axel didn’t break and he needed to sit with seconds to play?
Love him or the opposite, the guy plays rough and tumble until the zebras tell him no no. And even then.
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Carolina’s run as an #8 has been talked about plenty enough. Ws over Marquette, #1 Baylor, #4 UCLA, and #2 Duke are worthy of praise. Coming on top of beating Coach Whatsisname in the latter’s final battle at home. Im. Press. Ive.
What people are prone to forgetting is that the general belief remains the Tar Heels weren’t off the bubble until that smackdown in Cameron Indoor. Or that Hubert Davis’s surging squad lost to woeful Pitt in mid February. By 9. In the Dean Dome.
Twas a turnaround to be admired.
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Watching the intensity and back and forth of the Duke/ Carolina semi, after the Jayhawks handled Nova in the opener, reminded me as a U of L fan of a somewhat similar situation in the ’86 FF.
#2 seed U of L played the first semi, which I’ve always loved. Forget that headliner game crap. Handling comfortably, if not with dispatch, overachieving #11 seed LSU, 88-77. The Tigers had beaten UK in the Regional Final. Thank you very much.
#1 Kansas faced #1 Duke in the headliner. It was as exhausting and fierce a battle as the second semi Saturday.
Marginally more rested U of L prevailed over Duke for the crown, as marginally more rested Kansas bested North Carolina for the title.
Looking forward to U of L’s next title.
— c d kaplan
5 thoughts on “Hoopaholic’s Final Fours E1: On the Court”
With the benefit of time and hindsight, Bacot’s arm bar was part of a tangled up scrum for the ball. Wasn’t flagrant. Just aggressive play. Bill Covington’s call of a foul on Curry? THAT was flagrant. Should have cost him a week and his whistle.
Me thinks that the Heels just ran out of juice last night. They were a 1/2 step quicker than KU in the first half, but a full step slower in the second half. Bacot is not my favorite player, for sure, but he and McCormick (15 and 10) put on quite a big man show last night. I also gained some respect for B.Manek, last night in particular, and throughout the tourney. When we played NC here, I thought he was just a big with a decent outside shot. He proved me wrong in the big show. He had 13/13 with 4 blocked shots in the final.
The legs left the Heels in the second half as they had little depth. I don’t think their bench scored a point against us. After the rob job we suffered through at the YUM I can’t say I am all sad about it.
It just galls me that Kansas, a top 5 cheating school of all time can win the title while the proof of their violations and indiscretions confirm to me at least that what they did was much more grievous than any lap dance/dalliance that any of our players or recruits engaged in. But perhaps paying players and families is not so morally repugnant now since we have adopted NIL. Just put it in the same category as fake classes and you see 2 good reasons why we had last night’s two finalists.
Chuck, it was pretty apparent to me that the women’s teams played with far more discipline, strategy and accuracy than the men’s, who just seemed to run amok. Do u agree, or am I just prejudiced to women’s play?
Cathy, as a season ticket holder to both men’s and women’s bball, you are 100% correct. In fact, even in the last several years that Rick P was here as head coach, I would say that the women’s teams have been more engaged and fun to watch than the men.
It seems when the better team wins and their best player is an All-American that does well that person automatically gets the MOP award. I would have given the women’s to Henderson and the men’s to McCormick but what do I know.
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