UNC Overwhelms Michigan St. to Win the 2009 National ChampionshipPosted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2009
Carolina is the 2009 National Champion.
If we had to pick one series of plays from tonight’s shellacking that perfectly illustrated Michigan St.’s problems throughout, it was a series from early in the second half. If MSU was to make any attempt at a comeback, it had to happen soon. Immediately was more like it. Goran Suton had just hit a three to reduce the lead from 21 to 18, and at the other end, the Spartans forced a contested three that rattled out by Wayne Ellington. The Spartans’ Durrell Summers looked ahead to start the break, but instead he threw the ball into the waiting arms of the defensive back thief extraordinaire Ty Lawson, who saved it to his Carolina teammate, who then immediately found a waiting Ed Davis underneath the basket, foul, and-one. Ballgame.
Yeah, the game was decided in the first five minutes, but that singular play seemed to happen to Michigan St. a hundred separate times tonight. But by saying it ‘happened to’ MSU doesn’t give the proper amount of credit where it lies, which is that UNC was doing the happening all over the Spartans. It was UNC’s defense that was forcing all thirteen of those first-half turnovers; it was UNC’s offense that was nailing everything (no rim) en route to a 24-8 start to the game; it was UNC’s preparation and poise that silenced the 60,000 green-clad Spartan fans by the game’s first TV timeout, never to be seriously heard from again.
Once Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green decided to return to Chapel Hill, we wrote last June that UNC was #1 with a bullet, because on paper at least, there is “nobody on the horizon who can pretend to match up with the Heels.” Part of the reason for this was seredipity – Carolina kept its pro prospects while the teams better than it last year (Kansas, Memphis, UCLA) didn’t. The silly talk about going undefeated in the preseason was just hyperbole gone wild, but there should never have been any question about which team had the strongest combination of talent and experience returning this season.
When the brackets came out, we thought UNC had the easiest road to the Final Four, and we only saw three teams that could realistically give the Heels all they wanted there – Pitt, UConn and Louisville. UNC avoided playing any of them. But that’s not their fault or any kind of a hedge against the validity of their 2009 national title – you can only play the teams in front of you, and each of those other schools blew their chances along the way. Even that’s not to say that any of those three would have necessarily won such a fictional game – it’s only to say that they would have had a reasonable chance to do so.
We won’t bother going through all the particulars of tonight’s game or cast all the platitudes about the illustrious career of Tyler Hansbrough; there’ll be plenty of others who will do that for us. But what we will do is talk about how tonight Roy Williams went from merely a great coach to one joining the pantheon. As CBS pointed out tonight during the broadcast, only thirteen coaches have won multiple national titles, and several of those (most recently Billy Donovan at Florida) did so with the core nucleus of the same players. Ol’ Roy has now done it with two completely different teams, both within the last five seasons. He’s also been to five of the last eight Final Fours, and to say that he’s figured outthis whole recruiting/coaching/tournament success balance is the understatement of the new millenium. It seems like eons ago when Williams was known as a coach whose players came out tighter than a drum in big postseason games. Did you see any tightness among tonight’s players wearing the light blue and white? We didn’t either. And at this point, it wouldn’t shock us in the least if Roy gets a couple more of these things before he hangs it up.
For Carolina fans, this is exactly what they were hoping for when they lured Williams away from Kansas in 2004. Five short years later, in the 1-and-done era no less, Williams has already equaled the number of national titles that his mentor and resident deity Dean Smith brought back to Tobacco Road. Enjoy #5, Heel fans, but don’t insult us by claiming six. Yet.