Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
Conclusions are designed to summarize. They are added on the ends of books to pithily sum the events of previous chapters. They tie together loose ends, pull things together. Everything falls in line, any earlier doubts crystallized into a clear and concise synopsis. Everything makes sense. When it doesn’t – that’s when you question, when you wonder, when you’re truly flabbergasted by the events unfolding in front of you.
That was the feeling I got Monday night watching one of the most insane first half performances of any national championship game in any season in any level of competitive basketball. Spike Albrecht blew my mind. Yours, too: In the matter of 16 minutes, Albrecht – called into action after National Player Of The Year Award-gathering point guard Trey Burke picked up a sketchy second foul – scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. He entered the game at a precarious time for Michigan, what with their floor leader and undisputed best player sent to the bench, and when he left, Albrecht was a legend.
An enormous burst of energy from Albrecht gave michigan a huge jolt in the first half (Getty Images).
It didn’t stop there. Louisville responded – check that. National semifinal hero Luke Hancock responded with a ridiculous four threes on four consecutive possessions, all launched from the same general right-wing location, each purer than the one preceding. At the end of 20 minutes, two teams went to the locker room separated by one point. It was one half of basketball, and the nation had already enjoyed quite enough excitement for one night – more excitement than this college basketball season, this no-dominant-team, down-tempo, micromanaged, low-standard-of-play, bring-back-the-good-old-days season provided over five months of games.
The running theme in college hoops circles these days goes a little something like this: The sport is irredeemably destroyed, all the way down to its most basic components – team unity, player motivation, coaching greed and, my personal favorite, parity. As if a relatively equal playing field, and a complementary absence of a Kentucky 2012-level alpha dog, is such a bad thing. As if competitive basketball between two evenly-matched outfits on national television in an arena packed 75,000-strong is a detestable element of the game we’ve come to accept, a sign of deteriorating talent and viewability?
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