Oregon's Jordan Bell is obviously going to hurt for a while over not being able to grab two key rebounds off missed North Carolina free throws Saturday night in the NCAA semifinals. But come on, the Ducks would have had to go the length of the court and hit a rushed shot to beat the buzzer in order to win that game. Yes, I know. It's happened before. But...
I'd suggest there are certainly other things that are just as valid reasons for losing that contest. To wit:
- How about hitting a three-point field goal once in a while? My goodness, the college three-point line is close enough there's really no excuse for not hitting at least 40 percent of them. The Ducks managed to nail just seven of 26 (26.9 percent) of their threes. That's just not good enough.
- There were 16 turnovers, too. In a big game, Oregon could not afford to give up that many possessions to an outstanding team.
- For some reason this is not being talked about but it was a huge part of what happened inside the final six seconds of the game. The Ducks had the ball, trailing by three points, when Oregon's Keith Smith popped open for a layup, which he converted, with six seconds to go. Now if Oregon still had a timeout left, or if the college game had the NBA rule where a timeout late in a game allows teams to move the ball to the front court. that would have been fine. But really, I'd much rather have seen the Ducks try to find an open three-point shot. Tie the game right then and there. But that late, going for a two -- even a near-certain two -- still leaves your team a point short. And I didn't feel, at that moment, there was enough time left to get that single point. Oregon got incredibly lucky that the Tar Heels could not make one free throw in four attempts and that kept hope alive. But it was a faint glimmer.
- Yes, I know. The NCAA tourney has seen a couple of golden moments when players, Tyus Edney and Danny Ainge come to mind, scrambled the length of the court in a few seconds to win a game at the final horn. But we don't as easily remember the countless other times when such a mission failed.
This was the worst game Oregon played in the entire tournament and North Carolina certainly deserves some credit for that. But the Heels didn't play well, either, and the Ducks had a lot to do with that, too. Tough ending to a terrific season. The farther you go in a tournament, the more it hurts to lose.
And as you've probably heard before, losing hurts more than winning feels good. I just don't think Bell should bear the brunt of those feelings.