I don’t care what happens the rest of March. I’ve had my moment. And you are not going to see a more dramatic sequence of events than you saw at the end of the Minnesota vs Indiana game on Saturday.
With Indiana trailing by 2 and 10 seconds left, Minnesota picked Eric Gordon up full court to try to take some time off the clock. Gordon moved the ball up slowly before finally shaking his man and drawing a foul in the lane with 4 seconds left. Eric Gordon is an 85% free throw shooter. He missed the first free throw.
Eric Gordon now had to miss in order to give his team a chance. He took a shot and the ball hung on the rim. Because the ball hung on the rim, DJ White was able to tip it in, and the foul! DJ White now had a chance to complete the three point play and win the game for Indiana with 3 seconds left. (Regardless, Minnesota would still have time for a shot since there were 3 seconds left.)
DJ White missed the free throw, but there was a long rebound, and Minnesota once again fouled DJ White. (Not only did Minnesota foul White, but there was now just over 1 second left, making it very difficult for Minnesota to get a shot off.) White went to the free throw line and missed the first free throw again.
They panned to a confident Indiana bench. He only needs one. DJ White calmly received the ball, and knocked down the free throw to give Indiana the one point lead! Indiana, which once trailed by 16 points, has a chance to win the game!
Now you all remember Blake Hoffarber don’t you? He was the high school player who hit a shot from his back to win the state title for his team. Tubby Smith paused and stared at his clipboard. He drew up the play. Minnesota threw the ball the length of the court. Hoffarber caught it, and the shot is good! Minnesota wins! Minnesota wins!
I am so happy. This is the greatest day ever. I am about to turn 30 in a few days. This was the greatest birthday present.
Two other notes on the game:
1) Indiana started the game in a major funk, playing virtually no defense. One of my favorite plays was literally a statue-of-liberty play where Lawrence McKenzie acted like he had the ball and flipped it to Lawrence Westbrook who blew right by the unaware Indiana defender.
2) But the game turned around for Indiana when DeAndre Thomas came in and became the 400 pound express train. Dan Dakich recognized that Minnesota’s Spencer Tollackson was out with an ankle injury and Dan Coleman was sitting on the bench with 2 fouls, so Minnesota was severely short-handed in the post. Dakich brought in Thomas who was mostly guarded by 6’4” Travis Busch who did not play in 7 of the final 10 games. And Thomas went to work corralling rebounds and passing the ball to DJ White, including a ridiculous roll-the-ball-on-the-floor HI-LO feed. But most amazingly, Thomas even picked up a Minnesota point guard at half-court and stole the ball. Thomas eventually fouled out (in somewhat controversial fashion), but there was no doubt he was a huge part of Indiana’s comeback.
Why I am also Happy
Roy Hibbert responded to Thursday’s zero point performance with a career high for points and rebounds.
Demetri McCamey hit 6 three pointers, including one in the final seconds to send the Illinois vs Purdue game to overtime where Illinois eventually won. Illinois, formerly the unluckiest team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy has now won two days in a row with shots in the final seconds. (And the post-game locker celebration where the team hugged Bruce Webber truly warmed my heart.)
Well folks, I’m celebrating tonight. I’ll try to get back to crunch the bubble again tomorrow. St. Joe’s looks like they are in after beating Xavier. The committee is going to need an alternate scenario on Sunday because either Minnesota or Illinois is playing in the Big Ten final, late on Sunday. There is plenty to discuss. But I'm not crunching the numbers tonight. I'm celebrating.