Monday, April 02, 2007

So much for all that -- the Young Bucks get chomped

The Monk saw his chance to win the bracket pool one of Wongdoer's cohorts runs (with a fat pot of more than 2K total and 65% to the winner) go down the tubes when Florida rattled off its 9-0 lead that gave the Gators their first double-digit lead of the game, 33-22. Once the game reached halftime with Florida up 11, it was over (see previous post remark about halftime deficits in the NCAA title game). If OSU had won, The Monk would have won the pool for the second time in three years. Due to the HUGE points that go with picking the champion, I probably finished 20th behind a bunch of folks who picked Florida to win.

All that said, here's what we learned in general from the game: (1) Greg Oden can play. Most folks knew or suspected this before, but this was the most impressive game I've seen from him. He battled four big men from Gatorville and dominated them all (there's a direct correlation between Horford switching to defend OSU's power forward and his scoring down the stretch). Indeed, Oden completely outclassed Joakim Noah, who would have been a lottery pick after last year's final game. Oden also showed some nice moves and good court presence in kicking out of double teams.

(2) OSU lost because its complementary players all stank. Oden hit for 25, Conley for 20, and Ron Lewis had to scratch away for 12. OSU honked 12 consecutive three-point shots, which is absolutely fatal to a comeback attempt. Against a team as good as Florida, OSU needed contributions from its ancillary players like how Ricky Moore lit Duke for 13 in 1999 or Syracuse got 11 from Duany in '03.

(3) Florida's execution was pretty impressive. Noah gets all the press attention (he's overrated -- Horford is better) but Humphrey and Green had brilliant shooting games.

(4) Kudos to Corey Brewer for winning the MOP. He played fine defense both tonight and against UCLA, which augmented his offensive contributions. I thought Humphrey had at least as good a claim on the award after going 10-17 and 8-15 from beyond the arc in the Final Four.

(5) And kudos above all to Billy Donovan. Last year, before the Tournament, I noted how his Florida teams had failed to advance past the second round for five consecutive years and lost to a lower-seeded team each time. Now he's a genius after becoming just the sixth coach still in the business to coach three title games (Knight, Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Boeheim, Olson) and winning back-to-back titles. The truth is somewhere in between, and ultimately I think Donovan reconfigured his recruiting smartly to get tougher, more powerful interior players to complement his team's hallmark outside shooting abilities.

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