I haven’t written in a while, but after last night’s game, I feel like this is a good opportunity to pick up where I left off.
First off, congratulations to Michigan on a great season. Trey Burke proved last night why he is the Naismith POY. When it seemed that Michigan was slipping, Burke kept them in the game, ending with 24 points.
Now to the champs: Louisville is a phenomenal team that truly earned the title “National Champions.”
They ended the season with a 35-5 overall record, which is just as impressive as their skill sets and coaching.
After Kevin Ware‘s season-ending injury against Duke in the Elite Eight, most were unsure about the future of the Cardinals. However, with guards like Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, not to mention the powerful center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville made it to the championship game. One of the biggest shockers of the game was Luke Hancock.
Coming off the bench, Hancock had 22 points. His four consecutive three-pointers were the fire that re-ignited the Cardinals after starting off slow in the first half. His amazing performance in last night’s game resulted in him being named the most outstanding player. This is the first time in NCAA history that a player coming off the bench has earned the award.
Louisville’s well-known defense began to tighten up and they began to play their pace of basketball late in the first half. Michigan did well in the first half, but it was Louisville who owned the last half of the game. Another big factor to Louisville’s success was Russ Smith. Although he only had nine points, Smith, or “the poor man’s Allen Iverson” as his coach calls him, was able to provide that presence on the court and assist the Cardinals in a major way.
As if the possibility of winning a national championship wasn’t enough motivation, Louisville played hard and were determined to win big for their injured teammate, Kevin Ware. After the injury, many of the guys tweeted and Instagrammed about their teammate, whom they consider more of a brother. Trends like #PrayForWare became popular as a way to show support for Ware and the Louisville men’s basketball team. After the epic win, the net was lowered, allowing Ware to cut down part of the rim and participate in the winning festivities.
In the midst of the excitement of the Cards winning, Smith’s father announced that Russ, a junior, will forgo his last year at Louisville and go to the NBA Draft. He is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round. Good luck to him and the other Louisville players entering the draft this year.