Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fast break put Memphis in control in first half

Memphis’ Antonio Anderson got loose on the fast break and soared for a vicious, one-handed dunk over a helpless UCLA defender, causing Ben Howland to call timeout.

When UCLA’s Josh Shipp broke out of his slump to sink two 3-pointers in the first four minutes, it seemed like the Bruins were in good shape in their NCAA semifinal.

But quicker than you can say “Chris Douglas-Roberts,” Memphis took control of the first half with its fast break.

The key is freshman point guard Derrick Rose. He doesn’t push the ball up the court as quickly after made baskets as North Carolina’s Ty Lawson, but he runs the break just as well after opponents’ turnovers and misses.

UCLA reached its third straight Final Four with tenacious half-court defense. But with the way Rose leads Memphis on the break, it wasn’t going to be easy to turn this into a half-court game.

Lots of fans dislike UCLA because of Howland’s physical style. Some fans don’t like Memphis because of a renegade image, whether deserved or undeserved, that’s evolved under coach John Calipari.

Regardless of that image, Memphis’ ability on the fast break is beautiful to watch.

- Ken Tysiac