There are a select few that are inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame. It is an unbelievable honor and it certainly should be a major highlight in ones life. Now coaching a college basketball team to the national championship is a special honor as well, and not just anyone can say they accomplished such a feat. How about accomplishing both of these lifetime achievements in the same day? Doesn’t sound too bad now does it? Well, you can just ask Rick Pitino how it feels because he just had the best day of his life. On Monday morning Pitino got the news that he had been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and on Monday evening he won the Men’s College Basketball National Championship. Pitino became only the 2nd coach in history (the other being John Calipari) to lead two different teams to national championships. He led Kentucky to the promised land in 1996. Last night’s game was very well coached by Pitino, and he along with some special performances earned Louisville it’s 3rd championship title. In case you missed the game because the start time was insanely late, let me give you a quick breakdown of what happened.
Michigan jumped out to an early lead and seemed to control the tempo of the game in the first half. Unfortunately, Trey Burke, Michigan’s best player, found himself in foul trouble after picking up two quick fouls. Anyone who watches Michigan basketball knows that head coach John Beilein sits players with two fouls for the entirety of the first half. This could have spelled major trouble for Michigan, but Burke’s backup, freshman Spike Albrecht, came to the rescue scoring 17 first half points off the bench. Thanks to little Spike, the Wolverines had a 12 point lead with just under 4 minutes to play in the first half. 3 minutes later, Louisville was up by 1. How did that happen you ask? Well I’ll tell you. Luke Hancock happened, that’s what happened. Hancock split the net from downtown not once, not twice, but four times in a row in the span of exactly 2 minutes. This shooting display not only brought Louisville back to life, but they found themselves with a 1-point lead with 24 seconds left in the first half. Michigan did carry a 1-point lead into halftime thanks to a layup by Tim Hardaway Jr, however the momentum had clearly shifted back to the Cardinals. In the second half, the game remained tight, however if you watched it you could see that Louisville had taken control of the game. Once Louisville gained the lead with 13:50 left, they would not relinquish it for the rest of the evening. At the same time Michigan never went down more than 8 points at any point in the game. The difference in the game for Louisville was a combination of Peyton Siva and Luke Hancock offensively and a solid team effort defensively. We already know that Luke Hancock went 5 for 5 from 3-point range, but the intensity and energy displayed by Louisville on the defensive end is the real storyline here. This must be a testament to Rick Pitino, because you must encourage players to defend like that. That style of defense is not engrained in your DNA like scoring, it must be taught. And while this is definitely a cliche, Defense Wins Championships!
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