Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Tweener: "A Cold-Blooded Three!"

On February 26 I wrote an inaugural Tweener column. It's that time of the week again! This time we're going to look at the five most hateful shots of the 2013 NCAA Tournament (to date, at least).

Just in case you forgot why this column was called "The Tweener," it's because I love points, and more specifically shots, like this:

Anyway, here's the real theme of this week's piece:


FIVE: I've got to tip my hat to Wichita State.  By simply playing really solid basketball they took advantage of a weak bracket and have advanced to the Final 4.  On their way, they beat Ohio State. An Ohio State team that will claim two of the spots on this list. Coming in at #5 is LaQuinton Ross. It ranks below the rest of the shots on this list for two reasons: (a) Ohio State should have won this game going away anyway, and they really should have capitalized on this section of the draw, and (b) there are still two seconds left on the clock, which is at least time for two passes or a dribble or something other than a catch and shoot. Still, as announcer Kevin Harlan notes, this was a "COLD BLOODED THREE!"

FOUR: This shot tore my heart out. Actually it was the combination of insane three pointers that opened up my chest and left my heart exposed. But this just capped it off. It isn't higher on the list because (a) it was the first round, (b) I guess Marquette was "supposed" to win, and (c) because I don't want to be too obviously biased towards Davidson. Oh and (d) it wasn't really even a shot. But it was certainly hateful. And I won't forget that for a long while.

THREE: Everyone talked all year about Aaron Craft's defense. His shooting was generally down from last year, although not altogether bad. He struggled in Ohio State's game against Iowa State. And then, with the clock winding down, he just hatefully drilled a three right in Iowa State's face. Wait wait, I also meant to include and italicize the fact that he waved off Deshaun Thomas to do so! Anyway, the combination of Craft's poor shooting to that point, his dismissal of his significantly better teammate, and the fact that only .2 seconds were left on the clock afterwards slide this shot in at #3.

TWO: Trey Burke. If he isn't at the top of your Player of the Year list...why are you making a list. This shot comes in at hateful shot #2 for obvious reasons - it capped a Michigan comeback, it was much later in the tournament, it was from far enough away that about half the population couldn't even see the basket, it was on a Kansas team that had recovered from a scary first three halves of play in the tournament, it was from really, really, really far away, and Michigan ended up winning. And I picked them to win in my office pool. And it was actually from incredibly far away.  (Side note - funniest tweet I read during that game came from Bill Barnwell after Elijah Johnson drove, didn't turn the corner very hard, jumped, got stuck in the air, and flailed the ball back out to one of his teammates that expected him to shoot. The tweet said, "Terrible time to accidentally hit the pass button instead of the shoot button.")  Anyway, here's to Trey Burke.

Watch that again. I'll wait.

ONE: What could top that? Tyler Thorton. Real cool, Tyler. If only you just give a little jab and drove baseline.  Maybe then Kevin Ware doesn't go flying out of bounds. But no. You had to shoot it. And because you shot it, Kevin Ware became the hero of the 2016 film "CardBones" (a thrilling, based-on-true-events account of the Cardinals' run in the tournament after Ware's injury, spliced with the story of the new Pope).  Hateful, TylerThorton. (Just so everyone knows, I don't actually blame Thorton for this injury occurring and for all I know he's a great guy.) SPOILER ALERT/GRAPHIC WARNING: DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE SOMETHING GROSS/MILDLY UNBELIEVABLE/WOW ACTUALLY HOW IN THE WORLD DID THAT HAPPEN??

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