No-name National Championship game produces

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/12/19

I will admit, I felt little excitement heading into Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship contest. No big names, or blue bloods were there, and it honestly felt more like an …

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No-name National Championship game produces

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Posted

I will admit, I felt little excitement heading into Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship contest. No big names, or blue bloods were there, and it honestly felt more like an NIT championship with Virginia and Texas Tech squaring off.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have watched the game if a good friend of mine, Benton Kastman, wasn’t from Lubbock. Kastman’s mother, the late Majorie Kastman, was regarded as the first woman oil tycoon out in those parts, a female J.R. Ewing of sorts, and has buildings named for her and all sorts of honors bestowed upon her at Texas Tech. Benton is actually moving back here from Texas soon, and stopped by the house and we watched the Red Raiders win in the Final 8 just a week earlier.

So naturally, I decided to watch and root for Texas Tech like any good friend would do.

But let me say, I certainly wasn’t against Virginia. As a kid, I loved Ralph Sampson. Any and everyone that saw him play will remember that time period and the classics with Sampson and the Cavaliers against UNC and N.C. State in particular.

And UVA coach Tony Bennett is a favorite of mine, I just love the way he teaches the game, a la Dean Smith and John Wooden when it comes to the fundamentals and the little intricacies of the sport.

So almost reluctantly, I turned on the television, and sat down to watch the game.

Seven minutes in, with the score 3-2 and resembling a pitcher’s duel in baseball, I really began to question my decision, even my sanity.

But I continued to watch, and I’m glad I did. Simply put, the National Championship game between these two “no names” produced.

There weren’t the “one and done” players like Zion Williamson or Nassir Little, but there were a lot of tough and well coached kids playing their hearts out for a national title.

UVA twice lost leads of 10 points as Texas Tech simply refused to give in, giving their all to bring only the second ever national title to the state of Texas, with the only one to this point coming back in 1966 by Texas Wesleyan.

The Red Raiders took on the persona of coach Chris Beard: tough as nails, workmanlike, hard-nosed defense and rebounding, the staples of why Texas Tech rolled into the championship despite being a three seed.

In the waning moments, both teams made plays, offensively and defensively, including big free throws and treys, and key blocks, to force an overtime period.

Yes, all of a sudden, this blah and unexciting game had the nation at the edge of their seats to see which team would capture its first ever title in the sport.

And in the end, UVA and Bennett would finally get the elusive championship thats avoided the Wahoos and earned their coach and school the label of chokers.

No longer will I have to hear that Bennett’s style, that of precision cuts and passing to work for good shots, tough defense and rebounding, great fundamentals, will never win him a title.

Well, it did, and there is something to be said about great coaching especially when it comes to fundamentals, as well as having great kids. Bennett and his club once again proved that, and congratulations to him, his players and the University of Virginia.

Texas Tech, keep your heads up, you had and entire country watching you, and you produced when many didn’t think you would. Certainly just because you came up short in overtime on the scoreboard doesn’t mean you aren’t winners in your own right.

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