The ball is tipped
and there you are
you’re running for your life
you’re a shooting star
And all the years
no one knows
just how hard you worked
but now it shows…
(that) ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU REACHED DEEP INSIDE
ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU KNEW YOU WERE ALIVE
When you hear Luther Vandross (David Barrett, Teddy Pendergrass, Jennifer Hudson, or Ne-Yo) break into the song referenced above, die hard college basketball fans know another season has come to a close. The “One Shining Moment” feature made its debut in 1987 following Indiana’s victory over Syracuse (hello Keith Smart), and has served as the proverbial musical/visual bow on top of March Madness. Call me a sap, but I still love the package, even get goosebumps now and then depending on how it is edited. So, I settled in Monday night for what I hoped would be a clash of the titans (North Carolina and Gonzaga – two # 1 seeds) and a One Shining Moment sendoff into baseball season, but would the game live up to its hype?
The first place to look was inside. How would things play out in the paint between Carolina and Gonzaga? Both teams had immovable forces in the middle; Kennedy Meeks for the Tar Heels, and Przemek Karnowski for the Zags. Meeks is 6-10 and weighs 260 lbs., and Karnowski is listed at 7-1 and 300 lbs. (yeah right).
Photo: Yahoo Sports
These two behemoths are not alone up front however as each team had very good bigs to rotate in and out. Which group would establish itself early, setting a tone for the game? The one that could would probably end up cutting the nets down when the final buzzer sounded. The wildcard in this whole conversation though was, how would game be officiated? Were the veteran crew of Michael Stephens, Verne Harris, and Mike Eades going to let the “student athletes” bang around a little bit? Basically, were they going to let them PLAY? Well, following a pretty good first half, the zebras seized total control of things in the second stanza. Of the 44 fouls they called, 27 of them came in the second half (22 in its first 12 minutes)! The whistles came at such a dizzying clip that the pace of the game ground to a halt. There was absolutely no flow to the game which in turn devolved into a rather shoddy free throw shooting contest (the teams combined to go 32-52 – 61%) for a long stretch. I wanted to throw my shoe at the television every time I heard a whistle, I can only imagine how Roy Williams and Mark Few felt. For much of the half, Gonzaga’s three big men all had four fouls (Karnowski, Zach Collins, and Johnathan Williams), while Meeks spent his share of time on the pine with four of his own. I was clearly not the only one miffed at all the fouls being assessed. Below are a few tweets I captured from NBA players (Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Evan Fournier) on the topic:
Let these kids play. Put the whistles away.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 4, 2017
Man I can't watch this anymore man! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 4, 2017
Cmon man stop calling these damn fouls let them play #UNCvsGonzaga
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) April 4, 2017
Making things worse though was that on a night when the officials saw, AND called EVERYTHING, they completely missed one big one. With 50 seconds left and UNC clinging to a 66-65 lead, Gonzaga’s Silas Melson and Meeks both went to the floor for a loose ball. A jump ball was called, however when a different angle was shown, Meeks’s hand was clearly out of bounds! (See the photo below with the official is staring directly at the play). Carolina had the alternating possession arrow in their favor, and Isaiah Hicks’ runner with 27 ticks left pushed their lead to three. That pretty much ended the Bulldogs evening as their ensuing possession resulted in a Meeks block and a run out slam dunk by Justin Jackson.
Photo: WSB Radio
Thankfully, there were no clips of referees blowing their whistles in this year’s edition of One Shining Moment, because there was nothing shining about their performance.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.