SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

NCAA Men's Final: More "Rocky" than "Hoosiers"

Rocky went the distance last night against Apollo Creed. Rocky fought his usual gritty battle, defending tenaciously, playing scrappy, staying with the more touted team, acting like the slugger fighting the boxer, going toe to toe, trading blows. Apollo, on the other hand, had trouble getting into gear, or, at least, the gear that he showed on Saturday, when he put the jets to a good opponent. He came out of his corner in Round 1 boldly, landed many blows, didn't take many, and an observer could have concluded that Apollo was on his way and that the Italian Stallion quickly would sink back to the oblivion of collecting debts for shylocks and hanging out with his loser brother in law in a moldy tap room with a broken Piels Real Draft sign hanging outside.


But someone forget to tell Rocky that he didn't belong, even though he was fighting in his home town on college basketball's big day. Apollo, to his credit, fought gamely, unable to make his superior tradition count for much. Rocky kept on counterpunching, kept on hanging in there, pulled ahead at one point, but, in the end, like in the movie, Apollo prevailed. As Apollo once said (I think in "Rocky III" at the time that Rocky was repaying the favor he owed Apollo, "You fight great, but I'm a great fighter."). The fighter with the great tradition prevailed, barely, on a narrow decision.


It was a great fight.

I thought that Kyle Singler made the narrow difference for Duke last night. He defended great, blocked shots, hit key shots and was all over the floor. Duke seems to want to prevent Gordon Hayward from beating them singlehandedly, and the Blue Devils defended him well. To Butler's great credit, they spread the ball around, defended aggressively and kept at Duke and on Duke. It was a classic game, one worthy of a championship.

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