NCAA Women Notch the Lowest-Scoring Game
ALISON STEWART, host:
Men and women hit the courts this weekend for the NCAA Final Four. On Sunday, the ladies side, a crazy upset. Stanford whomping number-one UConn 82 to 73. Little more tense on the other side, when number two LSU lost to Tennessee by just one point. Happened to be the lowest-scoring game in women's NCAA history, 47 to 46.
Now, on Saturday, the young gents of the NCAA - it was the first time all number-one seeds made it to the Final Four. Things didn't really go as many people thought they would, and in between, there was some pro-basketball drama surrounding the Knicks, a couple of baseball games, too. Keenly aware of all the action, BPP sports analyst, ESPN vet, and husband to me, Bill Wolff. Hi, Bill.
BILL WOLFF: Keenly aware.
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
WOLFF: Keenly aware, yes.
STEWART: Let's do a quick recap of Saturday's men semifinals, and then we'll do a look ahead. Memphis 78, UCLA 63. That was the game that we watched together.
STEWART: The Tigers versus the Bruins.
WOLFF: It was a shared experience.
STEWART: It was. But all I kept hearing you say was Derrick Rose, unbelievable! Derrick Rose - this guy is unbelievable!
STEWART: What is so unbelievable about Memphis freshman, guard Derrick Rose?
WOLFF: He's big, at least relative to the position he plays, which is point-guard, and he is strong, also relative to that position, and he is quick, relative to a speeding bullet.
WOLFF: He is phenomenally quick, and a couple of times, as we watched it there on our beautiful television with the DVR, I had to rewind it...
STEWART: Yes, he did.
WOLFF: To show you how much quicker he was than everyone else. You just rarely see...
STEWART: There's always a tutorial involved when we watch.
WOLFF: Well, because I know you love to have me tell you what's going on, because only a mind like mine can really understand it. Anyway - you know how it is. Anyway, it's rare at any level to see a player who just physically is superior to all of the other players on the floor, and Derrick Rose is one of them. He is so quick that it causes people who watch a lot of basketball to stop, rewind, and watch it again just to see a guy as quick as he is.
That means he can get to the basket. That is he's dribbling the ball, and there's the defense, and then suddenly he's at the basket and they're behind him. At first, they're in front of him. Then, they're behind him. And all that happened was he moved incredibly quickly, more quickly than they could. He's amazing.
STEWART: So, I'm guessing he's not going to be a sophomore at Memphis next year.
WOLFF: That's a pretty good guess. It's not - nobody declares anything until his season is over. So, Derrick Rose will have to see after the game tonight. I'm sure one of the questions from the assembled media horde will be, so Derrick, you're going to go pro? And he'll say I haven't even thought about that yet, I'm just sinking - I'm letting this result sink in. And then in about a week my prediction would be he would go pro. And if he went pro, he'd be one of the first players selected for the NBA. I mean, he's special. He's unbelievable.
STEWART: Well, we have to give props to the rest of the team. I mean, there was a whole other team out there, and this team is 38 to 1.
WOLFF: Oh, yeah.
STEWART: What kind of game did Memphis play that they dominated UCLA?
WOLFF: They were incredible in the fast break, that is, they just got out on - UCLA would miss a basket, Memphis would rebound it, and then just go running up the floor faster than UCLA could get back to defend it. That was one thing they did really well. And the other thing, they have another guard called Chris Douglas-Roberts, CDR.
And he's a junior, also a guard, also big, also excellent, also probably a pro, and between him and Rose, between Douglas-Roberts and Rose, they were just too much offensively for UCLA's guards to handle. They just kept getting to the basket and getting easy shots because they were physically superior, basically.
STEWART: Next game, later on, you moved on to a larger TV and beverages with the boys. I stayed behind.
WOLFF: Yes. One boy.
STEWART: One boy. Mr. John Halley(ph). Kansas...
WOLFF: Hard to drum up a crowd that a crowd that way.
STEWART: Kansas, 84, beats North Carolina, 66.
STEWART: I have to admit, I was home, and I did surf in and out. And at one point Kansas was up something like 40 to 12, and then I turned back, and they were almost even.
WOLFF: Yup, yup, it was something else. Kansas absolutely swamped North Carolina in a most unlikely way. To be up 40 to 12 on anybody is shocking, but to be up 40 to 12 on the number one ranked team in the country, which is what North Carolina was, is shocking. So, literally I was a god, texting messages to my friends saying, can you believe 40 to 12? And all of that.
But Kansas has a way, throughout its history, of choking away big leads, and blowing it when they're supposed to be the best team. So, that's what they proceeded to try to do, and in the middle of the second half at about ten minutes to go in the game, actually 11 minutes and 38 seconds, Kansas was up only four points on North Carolina having completely gagged, completely choked away the lead.
But ultimately, in the final 11:38, they were too much. Too many big guys and too much, and they really blew North Carolina out in the end, which was a shocking result, I must say. Not shocking that they won, but shocking that they manhandled North Carolina for three quarters of that game.
STEWART: And I know you say that UNC big man on campus, Psycho-T Tyler Hansbrough, may have been exposed during this game as potentially not professional material.
WOLFF: Well, he's from Missouri like I am, so I hate to say these sorts of things. And, he's 21 years old, and it's sort of harsh to talk about a 21-year-old this way. But...
MARTIN: But do it.
WOLFF: That said, here we go. Tyler Hansbrough is a big, strong guy, but he plays a very inelegant game, unathletic game. How he has excelled, and he was the college player of the year, player of the year, was strictly by his tenacity. He's an unbelievable hard worker. But against a bunch of great athletes equally motivated on Saturday night, Hansbrough looked awful.
I mean, he looked unathletic and inelegant, and usually he looks like that but the results are pretty good. On Saturday night, he looked like that and the results were atrocious. And it looked to me as if this was what it was going to look like if he got to the pros. If he goes to the pros, he's going to be up against - everyone in the pros, is the best athlete...
WOLFF: Of all time, and I think when he gets there it's going to be a shocking awakening for Tyler Hansbrough. That's my opinion.
STEWART: So, the big game is going to be Kansas versus Memphis.
WOLFF: It is.
STEWART: What should we watch for?
WOLFF: I think you should watch when Memphis has the ball, you should watch for those two guys Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and if they are able to get layups, if they're able to get to the basket and score, Memphis will be having their way. On the other side, Kansas is very deep in tall guys, they're very - a lot of forwards, a lot of guys who get close to the basket and make things happen.
Sasha Kaun is one, Cole Aldridge is another. Darrell Arthur is another. If Kansas is able to exploit their advantage in terms of size, it will be going Kansas' way. So, I'd watch the guards for Memphis, and the forwards for Kansas.
STEWART: All right, so we talked about college basketball. Part of it, I told people on the show, you know, that we spend a lot of Saturday running around doing errands preparing for Baby Wolff to show up.
WOLFF: Yes, we did.
STEWART: Went to UPS, picked up the baby crib, all that kind of stuff. You and the UPS guy get into it.
WOLFF: We have a relationship.
STEWART: A relationship based around the drama surrounding the Knicks.
WOLFF: The New York Knicks.
STEWART: Yeah, you know, Isaiah Thomas, the coach of, oh, sexual-harassment suit fame, was relieved of his team presidency last Wednesday.
STEWART: Replacing him is one of his friends, Donnie Walsh. Now, you guys went back and forth about this for ten minutes. What's the drama?
WOLFF: The drama is that the Knicks are miserable. I mean, they are an abject failure, have been for a number of years, and this year is the absolute nadir. Just, they're so bad. It's almost unwatchable unless you hate the Knicks like I do, in which case it's just pleasure to watch them stink out loud, which they do.
And the guy who has been marshaling the effort is Isaiah Thomas, who not only is - was the president, that is the guy in charge of acquiring the players, but the coach, the guy in charge of managing the players, and he was - he has been an abject failure acquiring players. He has acquired all the wrong players for way too much money. They have the highest payroll in the NBA, and an abject failure as a manager, as a coach, because the Knicks don't even play hard. They don't even try.
They are disgustingly bad. Add to it that Isaiah Thomas was implicated in the sexual harassment case inside Madison Square Garden, which cost the Knicks 11 million dollars in damages. Now, if you failed as the executive, and you failed as the coach - or the manager, and you were a sexual harasser who cost your company that kind of money, any one of those three things in a normal business...
STEWART: You'd get bounced.
WOLFF: Would have you fired that day. But Isaiah Thomas has continued, much to the chagrin of those who love the Knicks. And so this fellow at UPS is fed up. He can't wait to see Isaiah Thomas gone, gone, gone.
STEWART: But Donnie Walsh, his friend, is going to keep him around, maybe.
WOLFF: Well, it's hard to know. I think that politically - Donnie Walsh was Isaiah Thomas' boss with the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis for a number of years. So, I think he has a relationship, but he doesn't want to - he's a friend of Isaiah, he doesn't want to just bounce him.
However, politically the Knicks fans, the people of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, are desperate to see Isaiah Thomas punished by being fired, and I think politically Donnie Walsh has to get rid of Isaiah Thomas just to keep the natives from being too restless.
STEWART: And that could happen this week?
WOLFF: It could. The season, I think there are four more games. He won't fire him before the end of the final game. But right after the season, I can't see how Donnie Walsh can't fire Isaiah Thomas.
STEWART: Bill Wolff, BPP's sports analyst, my favorite guy. Thanks, Bill.
WOLFF: You're my favorite girl. Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.