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Al Joseph's Blog

 

 

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS  (Mar. 31, 2015)

Okay so basketball season is over for my Runnin' Utes, but I still have a few stories to tell. The Utes trailed Duke 62-57 with only 7 tenths of a second left on the clock. I understand that you need at least 8 tenths of a second to catch and shoot a basketball before the clock goes off, and that's if you can even get into position to shoot. Of course Utah needed at least 2 baskets to catch up to Duke, so the coaches shook hands and the Utah players headed for the locker room. But wait! You can't leave yet! A referee says he called a foul and Duke must shoot two foul shots before the game can be over. What's that all about? In football if you are playing in overtime and you score a touchdown and it's enough to win, you don't kick the extra point. The extra point is irrelevant. Isn't that true here as well? Duke has won the game, what does another point change? And so the players come back out onto the floor and Duke's Quinn Cook missed his first free throw but made his second free throw, changing the final score from 62-57 to 63-57. All over the country, grown men who had placed bets on the Utes and the 5 point spread, cried in anguish as millions of dollars suddenly reversed back in the other direction. One online gaming site alone reported losses in the six figures just because of that one point. Meanwhile, even though the Utes lost, I thought they did some terrific things. The Duke center, Okafor, whom I mentioned in my previous entry, who had 21 and 26 points in each of his last two tournament games, and who many feel is the best center to come out of college basketball in many years, was held to his lowest output of the season... just six points. And the best part of it is, all year when he has been double and triple teamed he has effectively been able to pass the ball to other open players. Utah defended him so well that he couldn't even find open passing lanes to other players. Good job, Utah. Too bad Utah's outside shooting was absent. Utah is the best three point shooting team in the Pac-12. You can't take away the three point shot from Utah and still expect them to beat a talented team like Duke. Yet this venue did that quite effectively. The court was set up on a football field, and the stands did not rise up behind the basket, changing the look and feel and the depth perception, effectively taking the 3 point shot out of the game for most players. In the previous game, for example, UCLA  did not hit a single three point shot for the first time in about 15 years. Utah, who as a team shoots over 40% from three point range only hit 4 of 16 on this court. And so now, lots of laughs,  I can sleep peacefully through the Thai nights, not waking up in the middle of the night to watch a basketball game going on back in the United States. The good news is that after a 10 year drought Utah basketball is back. As long as coach Krystkowiach stays at Utah I believe they will be in the big dance every year with frequent appearances in the Sweet Sixteen, each an opportunity to advance even further.

 

 

 

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