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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Give and Go: Final Four Recap and Playoff Positioning

For the first 37-and-change minutes of Monday's NCAA championship game, I was planning for this column to be an extended treatise on my man-love of Derrick Rose and some theories on how I could guarantee the Knicks a top-two pick in the upcoming lottery. But my faith was shaken by that last 2:12.

Three things, actually, bothered me deeply about that game. The missed free throws, obviously, were the big thing.

The more disturbing part, though, was the fact that missing those free throws seemed to take both Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts out of their games completely. Maybe I'm reading too much into what I saw, but it seemed to me they stopped driving to the basket, almost like they didn't want to risk another trip to the line, for fear they'd put up more bricks. I don't think it was a coincidence the missed free throws and Memphis' championship-killing six-minute drought from the field happened simultaneously.

The third thing was actually a piece of insight from Billy Packer, which is remarkable in and of itself, but the ol' curmudgeon did have a good point or two when he wasn't telling us how many possessions the team behind needed to tie the game. (Thank you Billy. We can divide by three just as well as you can.)

At one point, Packer noted that Rose was much more effective when Memphis didn't try to run him off screens. He was at his best taking his man one-on-one off the dribble. And ya know, I think he was right. But here's my problem with that. We were in the last five minutes of Memphis' 40th game of the season, and their point guard, their floor leader, is most comfortable and effective operating OUTSIDE the set offense?!?

It's almost like he's a Knick already!

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