We came in tonight's contest talking about Tournaments past, and trying to replicate the results of a Final Four trip from years ago.
Unfortunately for YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles, today's result was more 2003 Final Four than 1977 National Championship game. Marquette was outclassed, outgunned, outcoached and out-everythinged at every turn in the opening twenty minutes, as North Carolina overwhelmed the Golden Eagles to the tune of 40-15 at intermission. A good effort in the second half made the final margin more respectable, but still, at the final horn, North Carolina breezed into the Elite Eight with an 81-63 victory.
There's really not much more to say tonight, because every observation ends with "but with all the other problems, I don't know that it would have made a difference." The game plan wasn't good, the boys seemed too jazzed in the first half and were long on every jumper, we couldn't defend in transition and the double-on-a-paint-touch philosophy led to wide open jumpers and missed blockout assignments, we were reckless with the ball and finished with 17 turnovers, the emphasis on slowing the pace seemed to get in OUR heads more than UNC's ... but all that said: North Carolina is just better. There's no shame in that.
From the Silver Lining Department (I guess?): with a very solid second-half effort, this loss didn't eclipse the mollywhopping Marquette suffered at the hands of Kansas in the 2003 Final Four as the most horrifying MU Tournament performance in recent memory.
Silver Lining Nos. 2 and 3: Davante Gardner was pretty nifty down low, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and six rebounds. Kid might be the second coming of Damon Key after all. And my request for Junior Cadougan to get big minutes was apparently heard, because the little man got 25+ minutes of run and put up 10 points, five assists, and made all his throws.
The other Silver Lining: I had some really yummy fish fry today. And it was baked, and it's fish, so it has less calories.
And this one isn't a Silver Lining, and though we'll have much more on this next week, it has to be said here, too: THANK YOU, JIMMY. THANK YOU, JOE. THANK YOU, DWIGHT. THANK YOU, ROB. Nothing about tonight's performance diminishes what you've done over the last four, three, and two years, respectively. You are Marquette.
Until next year.