The Thin Cherries, “I Like It”
Self-titled album released April 21, 2017
More information about the album can be found on their Bandcamp page:
Win Number 1,001 Did Not Come Easy For Coach K
In the song selection I chose, this Chicago band talks about coming home and meeting that special someone after a long day at the office.
In this case, the “office” was 1901 West Madison Street on Chicago’s renovated West Side in the self-proclaimed “House That Jordan Built”, the United Center for the 7th Annual State Farm Champions Classic.
The usual full house of over 20,000 fans plus a worldwide television and radio audience tuning in on ESPN and ESPN Radio were treated to two very interesting games.
First, we were treated to a match-up involving the Number 1 and 2 teams in the polls. This was only the 49th time in the Associated Press Poll Era (going back to when the television was just starting out in 1948-49).
Duke started as cold as the weather outside in most of the country–shooting only 2 of 12. Michigan State managed to get four early rebounds, but that edge quickly dissipated thanks to some heady plays by Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley III. The Blue Devils made a 13 point run over a period of 4 minutes, 22 seconds to give them a four point edge over the Gang Green Spartans at 16-12 during the second media time out (11:47 left in the first half).
A horrific moment happened with about ten minutes to play in the first half with Duke leading 19-12, as Bagley was attempting to block a shot. With two Kansas players on both sides of his shoulders, one player poked Bagley in the right eye. He had to leave the game for what Coach K called as a precautionary measure. Bagley finished with 4 points and six rebounds. Michigan State made a 22-11 run over the remaining stages of the first half to make the game competitive.
But this night belonged to senior Grayson Allen. He hit shots from many spots along and beyond the three-point line. These were the similar spots were past Chicago Bulls greats like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Randy Brown, Jud Buechler, and even Dennis Rodman would light up the scoreboards on most nights during their second three-peat run from 1996 to 1998.
Allen set a new Champions Classic record scoring 37 points on 7 of 11 shooting from three and 11 of 20 overall, while being a perfect 8 for 8 from the foul line. The previous record was held by Jabari Parker in 2013 when he scored 27. Another cool nugget ESPN shared after the 88-81 final–Allen scored the most points by any Duke player against a Top 2 ranked team since J.J. Redick back in 2005 when he had 41 points.
Michigan State held tough until the final four minutes when Duke closed out with a 15-6 run to put the game away. Even worse, the Spartans allowed Duke to grab two more offensive rebounds (25 overall) than what Michigan State was able to get in defensive rebounds (23). In other words, Duke had 17 second chance points. You just cannot do that against a team that has the talent and the caliber that Duke displayed on Tuesday night.
Michigan State shot nearly 50 percent from the field (31 of 61), but they could not get to the free-throw line as much as Duke did. MSU was only 10 of 18, while Duke was 19 for 29–that was 9 extra points right there. Tom Izzo is 1-11 against Mike Kryzyewski in his Hall of Fame career. Sophomore Miles Bridges finished the night with 19 points, going 5 of 10 from three point land to go along with four blocked shots.
It would not surprise me that both of those schools reach the Final Four, they are that good.
As ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas told David Kaplan on his morning show Tuesday on ESPN 1000 in Chicago regarding the second game between the sport’s two all-time winning programs,
“Kentucky is not quite ready for the big stage. Kansas has more experience and they have been there before.”
Shortly after Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, and Friends dissected the new College Football Playoff Rankings (what was the main reason why Oklahoma was ahead of Wisconsin?), Kansas and Kentucky got into a track meet of their own.
Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk was out in full force early, leading 7-4 in the opening minutes. Somehow, Kentucky Coach John Calipari really enjoys lighting up fires within freshmen players, and they managed to find a spark late in the first half. UK enjoyed a very brief 33-32 lead just before the intermission.
In a rather cheeky moment between Coach Calipari and ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor, he basically threw in the white towel:
“We absolutely have no chance of winning this game.”
But Kansas played like veterans and their defense forced 18 turnovers as the Jayhawks prevailed in a close affair, 65-61. Kentucky led most of the statistical categories, but rebounding was surprisingly even–at 39 each. Even UK dominated scoring off the bench, pounding Kansas in a lopsided stat 17-3.
The game remained close until the final seconds, of which Kansas made some key defensive stops in a game which saw 12 lead changes and the largest lead was 11 points. Neither team trailed by as many as two. De’Vonte Graham iced the game with two free throws in the final 9 seconds of play.
One post game comment from Coach Calipari really surprised me from the Twitter world, according to Scott Chasen:
“We were going to play 40 minutes of zone. My staff talked me out of it. Then I heard Duke played zone.”
On the other end of the locker room, Kansas Head Coach Bill Self realized the magnitude of the moment and did not feel like getting big headed realizing it is a long season ahead for both of these teams. According to a tweet by KUSports.com:
“That was one of the best wins we’ve had since I’ve been here…The guys, they wanted to be there, they wanted the moment and certainly they got it.”
Both teams did shoot under 30 percent from three, so there is definitely room for improvement. Jay Bilas feels that this time around considering how much talent left for the NBA, Kansas could be again an Elite Eight contender, while Kentucky in his mind could be “Sweet 16 bound.”
Kevin Knox led all scorers with 20 for Kentucky, while Kansas had four players in double figures, led by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk with 17.
Other key scores of note on Tuesday night were Villanova and Gonzaga winning easily, while Purdue got a nice win at Marquette 86-71 by scoring a whopping 54 points in the second half. Isaac Haas came up huge for the Boilers scoring 22 in the win.
A long night turned into an early Wednesday morning post for Yours Truly online.
The next time I greet you with another blog will be this coming weekend, with a short podcast to boot–as I preview the first slew of holiday tournaments highlighted by the always fun Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Hawai’i along with the brand new PK 80 Tournament at Nike Headquarters in Oregon.
I hope to also touch on some other tournaments worth keeping a small eye on in-between preparing the annual turkey with the stuffing. Want to know what my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is? It is making the cranberry sauce that isn’t too sugary to taste like candy, but not tart enough to send to the scrap heap. Everyone I know loves it, I make enough to have a leftover for at least three or four days.
We know these four prominent programs are in a work in progress–but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least three of these schools advance all the way to the Final Four in San Antonio.
As I say in my household, Pleasant dreams.