What makes a great game?

  • They were calling yesterday an instant classic, a great game, Self called it KU’s greatest game played in the NCAA tournament. I don’t necessarily disagree with those assessments, but I’m asking myself why.

    We of course still have great memories of what I’d say was our greatest NCAA game in 2008. The epic comeback, steal, and Mario’s shot. But that game wasn’t fun to watch. It was an ugly slugfest of a game, with obviously the thrilling ending.

    A better game than that, especially from a fans standpoint would have been the 1988 game. 50-50 half many call the greatest half of NCAA tournament ball, but still not the greatest game. It was a rather epic upset (although I heard ESPN radio talking about how the game today needs an epic upset like in the 80’s when Nova and NCS both won over legendary teams, but they didn’t seem to remember KU, 11 losses and all beating top ranked OU). That game had no buzzer beater, no comeback, we just pulled away ever so slightly.

    Certainly yesterday was not the first nail biter, even in this years tournament. Loyola’s seen three of them alone. But they weren’t calling those great games either, although they were.

    But historically, yesterday falls in that category. Why? I’ll try.

    1. Two blue bloods, one of which is reviled by many/most Americans.

    2. There was enough scoring to keep the casual observer tuned in. Sometimes close games that are defensive struggles are tough to watch if you’re not partial to one of the teams.

    3. The OAD storyline vs. the upper classmen oriented scenario. KU becomes another poster child for the stay in school title.

    4. There was controversy. Always adds to the drama.

    5. There was the awful then elation moment at the end. Tripper boy’s winning shot was one of those ball goes through Buckner’s legs or Don Denkinger aids the Royals types of moments. It was the Titans player getting tackled at the 1 on the last play of the Super Bowl. It was Willie McCoveys line drive that if it goes a foot higher the Giants win the WS instead of the rival Yankees. It was a to be much talked about moment. WE ARE LUCKY IT MISSED BECAUSE IF HE MADE IT WE"D BE SEEING THAT SHOT REPLAYED BY CBS AND ESPN FOR THE NEXT MILLENIUM.

    6. It’s do or die. Makes it much more exciting. Although they called our game with OU the game of the year, OU, despite losing gets to the FF. They then played their worst game ever.

    7. Last college game for some relatively big names in the sport if their team loses. IF KU blows out Duke, we’d be getting a tear jerking retrospective on Graysons career showing him all dejected. At least we didn’t have to see that. CBS did however show multiple shots of the Duke bench in the last minute which was kind of fun watching their pouty little faces, but I wanted to see our bench and we weren’t getting shots of them.

    It was a great game and proud to be on the winning side of it.

  • This board has been money since yesterday! Great stuff @wissox

  • I’m surprised you didn’t mention the coaching. Coach K, the gold standard of the coaching ranks and NCAA tourney vs Self recently minted into the HOF with a gazillion conference championships, multiple F4 runs and a epic Title win of his own.

    I think not only was it a heavyweight battle of programs but also coaches who have done nothing but win their entire career basically. This was as good as it gets.

    CBS broadcast on a Sunday afternoon as well. I know plenty of people that didn’t have a rooting interest in either team that was watching that were on the edge of their seats for 45 minutes. This game had it all from lead changes, games of runs, game-tying shots, a miss buzzer-beater and flat out high level basketball. You could feel the environment even if you weren’t there. This was intense, passionate, what the game is all about!

  • Great Game - When a beloved team from the Heart of America beats the Spawns From Hell and the hoop trips tripper…3 supercalifragilisticexpialidocious times.


    That’s all I kept thinking for a while afterwards too. Just a fraction of inch the other way and we lose, Gracie is a hero, and the bad guys win again. But, often it’s better to be lucky than good. Plus we’ve certainly had our share of unlucky breaks too. The guys worked their butts off yet again, never giving up and won yet again. What a great season it’s been!

  • It really is kind of insane that it didn’t go in. Check out this angle: https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/978047186733883393

  • @BeddieKU23 To your point, this was the highest rated EE game since UK vs MSU in 05.

  • Anybody see the replay of svi knocking the rebound away from Bagley

  • @Crimsonorblue22 No, I don’t remember that.

  • Maybe someone can find it, at work now. Kept from being a put back

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Yes that was a great play

  • @BeddieKU23 Thanks for the compliment! I wrote this during my lunch hour. I did forget the coaching angle. You’re absolutely right. That’s part of this epic game.


    Funny - time slowed down as that ball rolled around on the rim - felt like 10 minutes - I was holding my breath and a small voice in my head said “you will have to wake up every morning for the next 8 months with the image of Grayson #%~*!> Allen jumping up and down with glee “

    THANK the everloving hoop gods it rolled out . Then I breathed and though “ hey - overtime … just like 2008 - we are going to win this “

  • Greatest games in the Self era: 1) 2008 Championship over Memphis. 2) 2008 Final 4 victory over UNC. 3) 2012 Final 4 victory over Ohio State. 4) 2012 final Border War victory over Mizzery. 5) Final 4 victory over Duke. #1 is an obvious choice. I believer any Final 4 victory trumps an Elite 8 victory. And i still get chills watching the AMAZING comeback at home against Mizzery. T-Rob’s block…OMG! Just my opinion.

  • Crimsonorblue22 said:

    Maybe someone can find it, at work now. Kept from being a put back.

    @wissox It is just visible at the end of the GIF @BShark posted–you see Svi direct the ball to the left (his right).

  • @wissox

    Your stuff is great, we are lucky to have you on this board as well as the countless others that make this place great!

  • @Jayhawk-in-OKC I like we keep adding to the list! Makes me soooo happy! Soooo many great players in those games! I also think of the guys in between that lead to those wins.

  • The thing that made this game great was simply tons of talent on the floor, on the sidelines and the game stayed close throughout. Neither team ever got a big lead. The game never got boring. Neither team ever had clear control of the game. Every time it seemed like one team would take control, the other team made a big play.

    Great officiating calls mixed in with really bizarre ones. Coaching and overcoaching (Duke switching into a 1-3-1 for a few possessions).

    Lucky plays on both sides. Bad plays followed by great plays. A guy on each team having the game of his life (Duval vs. Newman). An unexpected hero (Silvio).

    And ultimately, a villain. Duke would have been better off having Duval take that last shot in regulation, but Coach K went with Allen instead. That may be the single biggest decision. Allen is no better than the fourth best player on that team, yet Duke put the ball in his hands, and he almost converted. ALMOST.

    Game play that is good enough to make it watchable, but with enough errors to keep you on the edge of your seat.

  • @StLJhawk As a Dallas Cowboy fan it would be like watching Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” over and over and over…every year the NFL playoffs came around…over and over and over and over…Makes me want to puke! I still hate watching that replay!

  • @wissox Don’t be misled, both teams are hated around the college hoops world. The only two fan bases that like Duke and KU are …Duke and KU.

  • The Grayson miss certainly made my heart skip a beat. Maybe multiple beats as it rolled around a couple of times and I actually thought it was in not once but twice!

    But hey, that is the way basketball works. Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it rolls out. We got a bit lucky on this particular shot but we have been unlucky on others. When Trey Burke was hitting 40 foot 3’s against us in the epic 2013 loss a couple of those could have been off by an inch and we grab a rebound and the game is over. In the Villanova game 2 years ago we were up 6 points and Wayne had a wide open 3 that just rimmed out. That would have put us up 9 very late in the game and instead it was in and out and they came down and hit a 3. These things happen! One missed shot does not make a game.

    Look at the other side of the draw. Michigan and Loyola both needed buzzer beaters to stay alive in early round games. 1 inch the other way and neither team is dancing.

    In a sick and twisted way I am thrilled that Grayson is the guy who missed the shot. It means more that it was his downfall and not Trent or Duval as he has a 4 year history of being a bad sportsman and in general I don’t think he is a person of high integrity.

  • @nuleafjhawk unc was pulling for us! More duke haters

  • @wissox

    Any game I can’t figure out what both coaches are doing over half the time while I’m watching. This is the common thread for me. Most games are pretty transparent. But Self and K schooled me for at least 2/3s of the game. Amazing to watch.

  • @BeddieKU23

    I look at Coach K the past couple of years and I’m wondering why he is still coaching. It is clear as the sky on a sunny day that he doesn’t feel well. Yesterday, he looked like he was completely nauseated and drained during the entire game. Glazed eyes, high forehead sweat, frustrated expression (noticed I said “expression” and not “expressions”… he had the same expression all game). And he just looked plain-old worn out!

  • Is it just me or did it look at the half time interview that Coach K had a red bruise under his right eye?

  • Jayhawk-in-OKC said:

    @StLJhawk As a Dallas Cowboy fan it would be like watching Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” over and over and over…every year the NFL playoffs came around…over and over and over and over…Makes me want to puke! I still hate watching that replay!

    And Kentucky has to watch Christian Laettners shot over and over and see advertisements for 30 for 30’s and cbs specials on it. All for a shot that got their team to the final four. Mario’s shot was so much bigger because there is no 2008 championship if he misses.

  • @joeloveshawks It’s not sick and twisted that you were glad Grayson missed. It’s healthy and sane that you were glad he missed.

  • @joeloveshawks

    Can’t argue with you there 🙂

    And yes how could I forget the Villanova game… Wayne’s shot was uncontested… I though for sure it was going in. But their guards drained big time key shots late and we didn’t. Season over. Were they a better team than us? No. But They were better than us at the end of the game.

    And yes indeed The ball bounces in crazy ways in the tourney… in 2008, Stephen curry with Davidson misses a three at the buzzer and we survive. (And I hear he’s a pretty good outside shooter. ) Then Derrick rose misses some key free throws… was it 3 of them? which keeps us In Reach of a last second trey that does go in. The margin of victory and thus history is SLIM

  • @Bosthawk Our memories fool us. Actually, Curry didn’t take the last shot. Their other guard did, Jason Richardson.

  • @mayjay Really ? Thanks for the clarification! That’s why this site is awesome… I do remember it being a real nail biter though

  • @Bosthawk They got a lot of criticism for that choice. I just always remember because it reminded me so much of Kirk passing up the shot in 2003.

  • @mayjay

    I like @Bosthawk story better… particularly when you consider how good Curry has become. 😄

  • @JayHawkFanToo Hollywood would change it like they did for another movie with a KU regional final…

  • @mayjay Or Jacque passing up the shot in 1997.

  • Well Curry passed to Jason if that helps?!?

  • That’s what I must have remembered…? That curry was involved and I was petrified of him…

    Now if we do win it all this year, Grayson’s In and out shot will defintely enter the the lore of great moments In KU B-ball history.

  • @joeloveshawks most of your post seems to make the point that one shot can make the game.

    Obviously, not ultimately, but sht missed or made was a hinge for several games you mention.

  • @mayjay I think I remember reading they were coached to make sure Curry doesn’t take that last shot. Someone D’d up Steph big time.

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