To get pumped for this most recent NCAA Tournament and to remember a time when KU got the job done, I watched KU's 2008 Final Four game against the North Carolina Retards. It was the first time I had watched the game since rewatching it the day after it occurred. I couldn't wait to relive KU's famous first half run (which ran somewhere from 18-0 to 25-2) featuring multiple Chalmers/Russ-Rob steals, Colehelm's a plenty, and some big time Sherronergy, not to mention Billy Packer's somewhat infamous "This game...is...over" line. But, as is with all of my teams, no lead is ever safe. The Tardheels immediately responded with a 10-0 run, and put together a 14-0 run in the 2nd half, mostly spurred on by Danny Green's ass waddle and Tyler Hansbrough flopping around like a marathoner going commando. Perhaps by biggest intrigue of the game was how KU responded to blowing their lead (all the way down to 4). Well, it was a BRong Rush offensive rebound and putback, a lob to Darnell over the top, and back to back Sherron2Kaun's. Game over.
While watching the game, I couldn't help but think that no KU team could ever surpass that 2008 team. First of all, I won't be at the University at the same time as the team ever again. Second of all, it'd be very difficult to match the likeability of that team. And third of all, there's VERY little chance I'll ever do bong rips with one of the players in the middle of the season again. My only question is if any championship could ever compete with being a fan of the 2008 National Champions. I think the Chiefs are the only team with the potential, but I have little concept of how I'd feel if they were to win a Super Bowl. It wouldn't surprise me if it greatly surpassed or fell woefully short. I'll be sure to let everybody know come February 5, 2012.
So you're probably wandering where I'm taking this entry from here. Well, here goes. I'm interested to take note of how players from that team are remembered over time. I'm also infatuated with attaching overrated/underrated tags to people. Boom...lightbulb! So here are my personal reactions to how each and every (relevant) member of that team has been remembered since cutting down the nets...
UNDERRATED (presented in order of most to least)
*Sherron Collins - The inspiration for this column. It's as if his reputation has been tarnished by his off-the-court antics, his lack of an NBA career, and one loss from his college career. Are you freakin' kidding me? Lets not forget that he was the best point guard on the floor in a National Championship Game that included the likes of Derrick Rose and Mario Chalmers. Not to mention his ideality as a sixth man. He can carry a lesser a team on his back by scoring, brings great energy, and is a great leader on the floor.
*Darrell Arthur - Every team needs a go to scorer. Shadyyyyyyy was just that, only people never seemed to recognize that fact. Well, pay attention to the first plays of both the Final Four games and you'll see what I mean. Or the play that ignited the comeback against Memphis (comically called "the worst shot KU could've taken" by Packer when he shot it). I've actually seen him make Sportscenter a few times this year playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, ironically.
*Darnell Jackson - My favorite player from the team. One of two jerseys that hangs in my rafters to this day (along with Priest Holmes). D-Jax plays within himself more than any other KU player I've ever seen. He was a capable scorer, but never took bad shots. He put all his effort into defense and rebounding because that was exactly what the team needed. He was also loved by all of his teammates and seemed as genuinely nice as a basketball player at KU could.
*Rodrick Stewart - A player of little impact becoming the supposed driving force of the team at the Final Four? I tell myself, "Lets write this for Rod" before diving into any write-up ever since.
*Russell Robinson - The heart and soul of the team. His want to win was maybe somewhat taken for granted at the time, but boy have KU fans missed it since. Also, has to be underrated because of people's overall lack of appreciation for good defenders, despite that aspect representing 50% of the game of basketball. He was a spectacular on the ball defender.
VERY PROPERLY RATED (presented in no particular order)
*Sasha Kaun - I thought and I thought, but I couldn't relegate Kaun to being either over or underrated. He was exactly spot on rated. He was very replaceable, but he had a special skill (alley oops) that fit in very well with this team. I will never forget that he went on to make more money the next year than any player from that team.
OVERRATED (presented in order from least to most) - Let me start by saying that I hate labeling any of these players as overrated. Most all are near and dear to my heart (Cole isn't), and this isn't a reflection of how I feel about them, but simply a reaction to the public's perception of them.
*Brandon Rush - Because of his name. He was the biggest recruit on his team, and he might be the best pro from the team when it's all said and done. But, I wouldn't necessarily list him as the best player on that team. Therefore, he qualifies as overrated. Even though he did make the biggest play of the game in the game against UNC. Bet. Whip. Lil' Wayne. 'Nuff said.
*Mario Chalmers - Calm down, calm down. Yes, the man that gave me an alternate to that annoying "Kobe" saying, as well as my go to phrase in the bedroom ("Who's the best blogger in the world") is listed as overrated. But how could he not be? If I met Jesus I would tell him he was overrated too. It's not their fault. It's not his fault. It's not your fault. Look at me, Mario....It's not your fault. Lastly, it's funny when people seemed unaware of what KU would do down 3 to Memphis, when the exact same situation occurred the previous year in the Big 12 Championship. See if this looks familiar at all...
*Cole Aldrich - It is your fault, Cole. Actually, it's just that the game of College Basketball has passed you by. It's no longer a place for slow, plodding, 7 foot, traditional centers anymore. They slow your team down, and become counterproductive. It's just much more suitable to have an athletic 6'10 player nowadays. My last point of intrigue from KU-UNC was examining exactly how good Cole's stretch of play was (remember, he was a relative unknown then), of which I was blown away by how dominant it really was. Here's a simple breakdown of his carnage: block, tip-in, after the foul block, block, turnover, BENCH. Offensive rebound, 2 free throws (reshot 2nd because of UNC lane violation), rebound, offensive foul, after the foul block, offensive rebound, made shot, block, steal, offensive rebound, missed shot, block, and a grand finale of a ball being dunked off his dome. "Gosh, it was awesome yanno."