Best of Saturday at the Final Four
Kevin Ware encourages teammates during a timeout at Saturday's Final Four game against Wichita State.Andy Lyons
Wichita State, making its second trip to the Final Four and first since 1965, shocked everyone by playing like a power against an inspired top-seeded Louisville team on Saturday. But the Cards rallied late to win 72-68 and reach the title game for injured guard Kevin Ware, who was in uniform and watching from the sideline, and even hobbled into the huddle to give his teammates a pep talk.
''He just wanted to tell us that we needed to pick it up,'' point guard Peyton Siva said. ''We know how much it would mean for him to be out there. He just tried to give us whatever we needed, the extra motivation, the extra boost to get over the hump. That's what he did.''
The Cards, back in the final for the first time since winning it in 1986, will face a Michigan team making its first title-game appearance since the Fab Five, after solving Syracuse's zone in a 61-56 win. Watch a preview of the game here.
''It's going to be a great matchup,'' Michigan's Mitch McGary said. ''They're a team like Syracuse that also plays in Big East and they remind me of VCU the way they trap and can turn over the ball.''
Michigan will try to be 2nd No. 4 seed to win national title. Arizona did it in 1997 ... by beating Rick Pitino.— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) April 7, 2013
Whew! Anyone else soaked with sweat after this Final Four? Apparently Phil Jackson, who was live-tweeting during the games and sounds like he needs a cigarette, too.
Well-well it's over and so am I...thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 7, 2013
Michigan shredded the Syracuse zone in the first half and held on in the second. Trey Burke overcame a nightmare night and made a clutch free throw, then Jordan Morgan drew a big charge to preserve a 58-56 lead.
Surprisingly, the star guards struggled: Both Burke, who was named the Wooden Award winner Saturday, and Michael Carter-Williams went scoreless until the final two minutes of the first half, and didn't scratch in the second until Buke made a free throw with six minutes left. Burke finished with seven points on 1-for-8 shooting; Carter-Williams had two on 1-for-6.
McGary, who didn't make the All-Big Ten Freshman Team but has been a breakout star in the tournament, had back-to-back blocks at the hoop in the opening minutes to set the tone and helped crack Syracuse's zone. Charles Barkley said Syracuse had to switch up the zone, but the Orange never did.
McGary is as good and decisive from the high post against Syr zone as Zeller was hesitant and tentative. He's doing exactly the right things— David Jones (@djoneshoop) April 7, 2013
Mitch McGary might be top 5 in this years draft— Braylon Edwards (@OfficialBraylon) April 7, 2013
BOEHEIM CALLS OUT REPORTER OVER RETIREMENT RUMOR
After the game, Jim Boeheim got into it with a reporter when asked if he would be back.
"If you're going to say something smart, at least be smart," he sniped.
Boeheim later apologized and set the record straight on his intentions for next season and his feelings about coaching in the ACC.
Dick Vitale defended Boeheim, saying "When you get to a certain age, people think you're automatically stepping aside," and added, "I'll put up my damn energy against any 25-year-old."
YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS
Apparently there was some kind of bet between Syracuse alum Donovan McNabb and Michigan alum Jay Feely:
That's why they call the crowd the 12th man in football:
Tim Hardaway was out supporting his son ... HARD.
Asked Tim Hardaway Jr. abt dad's weird beanie. "When he was a kid on South Side of Chicago, that's how they wore it." @timhardawayshat— Reid Forgrave (@ReidForgrave) April 6, 2013
Can we get a free pizza deal Monday?
LOUISVILLE AVOIDS SHOCKER
In the opener, Wichita State controlled the first 25 minutes and opened a double-digit lead. But the Cards rallied for their 15th straight win behind their backups, as Luke Hancock came off the bench to score 20 points.
Coach Rick Pitino, who could win the national championship and be voted into the Hall of Fame on the same day this week, got a good omen at halftime: His horse Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby and will run at the Kentucky Derby. (And it was running as — what else? — No. 5, Ware's number. "I did not know that," Pitino laughed afterward.)
The Shockers had a last chance in the final seconds as the Cards missed the second of two free throws that would have made it a four-point game. Ron Baker rebounded but got tied up for a jump ball, and the possession arrow favored Louisville.
Twitter blew up about whether the refs blew the whistle too fast.
Yay college hoops! RT @slmandel The best Final Four upset bid in recent memory going to be decided by a quick jump-ball call? Terrific.— Reid Forgrave (@ReidForgrave) April 7, 2013
This --> RT @fsohiozjackson The referees are Ted Valentine, Brady Hoke and Mitch McGary's dad— Reid Forgrave (@ReidForgrave) April 7, 2013
The Cards missd Ware on defense, struggling to cover the Shockers on the perimeter. But walk-on Tim Henderson fillied in and drilled a couple 3's to keep the Cards in it, and the defense finally started to force turnovers — seven in the final seven minutes.
''We were kind of waiting to make our run,'' Hancock said. ''Obviously you're a little concerned when you're down by 12 in the second half. We just had to turn up our intensity, maybe gamble a little more.''
Louisville had come back to win five games after trailing by nine points or more already this year, including rallying from a 16-point deficit in the title game at the Big East tournament. This one trumped them all.
Now bring on Michigan. Louisville is 2-0 all-time against Michigan, with wins in 1977 and '78.
Pitino vs. Beilein is rematch of classic 2005 regional final. Louisville rallied from down 20 to beat West Virginia.— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) April 7, 2013
Wichita State wingman Cleanthony Early led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds for a Shockers team that gave the Cardinals all they could handle.
They didn't read your press clipping Louisville— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) April 6, 2013
Lost most $ in NCAA tournament: Cody Zeller. Made most $ in NCAA tournament: Cleanthony Early.— David Jones (@djoneshoop) April 7, 2013
WARE SHARES HUG WITH DAD
The sophomore guard, who played his high school ball in Atlanta, was cheering on his hoops family when he got a surprise visit from his dad.
Kevin Ware Sr., who hadn't seen his son in about a year, was seated near him at the end of the game and shared a hug when it was over.
“I just wanted to tell him how proud I was,” Ware, a bus driver from New York who said he taught his son to play in the Bronx River projects and used to take him to the famed street ball mecca at Rucker Park, told The New York Times. “This has been so difficult for him, and he’s handled it so well.”
Ware said he's doing well and has 8 to 12 weeks on crutches, then begins his rehab.
The fans were out in full force and showing lots of love for Ware. Amar'e Stoudemire footed the $2,500 bill for 1,000 oversized cutouts of Ware's head. Check out more great shots from the Final Four.
The fans certainly are on their game:
Phil Jackson was watching and analyzing ("I like the aggressive play by both teams..mistakes are going to be the key to who wins the game.") and having a Final Four party with some familiar friends. He tweeted a pic that will make Lakers fans feel sentimental:
What is Jeannie Buss looking at? Scouting the Serengeti for a backup center?
The Zen Master is even dropping some knowledge. Can't wait 'til he starts tweeting books for each of us to read.
How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 6, 2013
first you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 6, 2013
double fouls are chicken s__t calls...!— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 7, 2013
Five-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson had his own commentary. All we can say is urbandictionary.com.
I'm watching the #FinalFour and can't help but laugh when I hear the announcers say the "shocker(s)" with excitement...— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) April 6, 2013
CBS just ran a commercial for something called "The Great American Baking Show". Clearly there's not enough sports on TV.
GOT ALL THE ANSWERS?
Then take our Final Four quiz, and see just how much you really know.
IF YOU MISSED IT ...
The week was dominated by Ware's recovery from the most gruesome injury ever suffered at the NCAA Tournament, and the Rutgers scandal that led to the firing of Coach Rice and the resignation of AD Tim Pernetti.
Jason Whitlock wrote that this was another example of how NCAA power corrupts. "Saturday Night Live" had a different take: