Sports, man. It provides moments that last a lifetime, whether it’s the joy of victory or the agony of defeat. It also provides the chance for roleplayers and those the country doesn’t know about yet to have their one shining moment.
This is most evident in the best month in sports, the NCAA Tournament. In a one-and-done setup for a postseason, it’s guys who shine the brightest on a Monday in April. Whether it’s Gerry McNamara, Doron Lamb, Tyus Edney or Spike Albrecht, there’s a plethora of guys who became folk heroes due to the NCAA Tournament.
Add three more names to that list thanks to Monday night’s victory for Duke in the NCAA title game. Tyus Jones, Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen. Yes, they are McDonald’s All-Americans, but they aren’t the stars of this Duke team. Heck, two of them don’t even start.
However, when the Blue Devils needed them it was this trio, not the Okafor-Winslow-Cook trio that carried Duke to its fifth national title. With both Okafor and Winslow battling foul trouble, it was Jefferson to step up first. He didn’t fill up the box score, hitting just one bucket. But, he grabbed seven rebounds and played the best defense on Frank Kaminsky all game.
In the second half, Wisconsin jumped out to a nine point lead, before it was time for the forgotten about McDonald’s All-American for Duke. Grayson Allen channeled his best JJ Wojo Paulus Laettner combo and went on his own 8-0 run to cut the lead to one with Okafor and Winslow on the bench.
But, then it was Tyus Jones, who seems to have ice in his veins. Scoring 19 of his 23 points in the second half, Jones ran away with MOP honors. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched Duke in a close game this year. Jones always seemed to find the moment and relish in it. This wasn’t any different as he took the game into his own hands.
On the flip side there’s always the other team. The Badgers should be talked about as a great team as well, but you have to wonder if the victory against Kentucky caused them to slow down just a tick heading into the title game. Sam Dekker had 12 points, but went 0-for-6 from deep, including two airballs.
While Duke will celebrate and climb up the history books, there needs to be something said about Wisconsin. The athletic department in Madison has been great in the Modern Era, both in basketball and football. But, will they constantly be the bridesmaids? This is yet another great team for Wisconsin, which has yet to win a national title.
See, that’s what a Monday in April is all about. Sure, you can hate Duke. You can be mad about the officiating and how Duke seems to get every call. But, at the end of the day, it’s always about the moment and who puts their stamp in history.
Tonight it was a group of roleplayers who decided it was their time, and for that, Duke is your National Champion for the 2014-15 season.
Enjoy the One Shining Moment.