First of all, let's address the elephant in the room: The referees in this year's NCAA tournament may be the worst we've seen in a long time. Unlike the UNC-Asheville screwjob, this one was fair: the terrible and inexplicable calls were numerous in both directions tonight, and in the end most of the terribleness balanced out: The refs seemed more interested in make-up calls than actually calling the game as they saw it. Wildly inconsistent throughout the first half, it was only a matter of time before one team or another ended up getting boned by a bullshit call. Thankfully for the refs, Kentucky went vintage UK and went on a nice run at the end of the half, and then again right after the Cyclones' came out firing to start the second half - saving the refs from having to decide between making the right call and making it out of KFC YUM! arena alive.
Secondly, I want to give credit to Kentucky. They are a very special team, and I'll be disappointed if they don't win the championship this year. The sheer amount of size and athleticism they posses would make them any High Major Conference coach drool, but the deft shooting touch they showed tonight was truly incredible. Unlike the streaks of three point shots that punctuated the best parts our season, the Wildcats seemingly made every single open look they had. There's a reason they're the #1 team in the nation.
The obvious stat from the game is the dismal 13.6% shooting from behind the arc - when a team that lives by the three point shot goes 3 for 22, they're really just dying by the three. Despite a serious run to tie the game early in the second half, (and the best example of Royce's Beast Mode we've seen yet,) this year's team is designed to win shooting the long ball. Tonight, the Cyclones just couldn't get their shots to drop, and Kentucky fed off what was essentially a home crowd in Louisville.
And so the 2011-2012 campaign comes to a close. We will forever miss the antics of Scott Christopherson - the guy is a short pale unstoppable shit-starting machine, but was just enough of a short pale goofball to pull it off. Dude was a true son of #CyclONEnation, and with that babyface, he should able to drink for free on Welch Ave. and hit on sorority girls until he's well into his 40s. (So long as he avoids being a dick about it - a.k.a John Neal syndrome.)
Royce White went into beast mode tonight against the #1 team in the nation (and last night in the win against UConn, as the .gif below shows), and probably turned a LOT of heads, including those of NBA scouts. If @Highway_30 can parlay tonight's performance (23 pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk) into a solid draft pick, and chooses to capitalize on it, then we should thank him for everything he's done, and wish him well. He deserves to go make his millions. The NBA is the true #LandofLions, and in the immortal words of the Wu:
CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME C.R.E.A.M - GET THE MONEY, DOLLA DOLLA BILLS YA'LL
And we owe a large part of the season (and the UConn win) to Chris Allen, whose veteran leadership sustained the Cyclones when their youth and emotion started to get the best of the team. The Guard from Tom Izzo, (C to the Izz-A) was instrumental in helping to keep the rest of the team mentally focused on the game. Good luck to him in his future basketball endeavors.
Of course, if Royce decided to return next year, with Korie Lucious... well, Cyclone Nation is nearly drooling at the thought already. And with Fred at the helm, I think we're in good strategic hands. The future is bright, everyone. The curse of the Godfather of WRNL has finally been lifted.
To the off-season we go, full of exuberant hope for the future. It's a great time to be a Cyclone.