Rose and CDR fuel Memphis' offensive machine
SAN ANTONIO -- Generally speaking, coaches are about as comfortable with change as the Amish are with progress.
Lucky water bottles sit perched at the exact longitudinal mark on a court every day; tattered sweaters and shirts get hauled out game after game if they've inspired a winning streak; pregame rituals are orchestrated with a precision the Marines would envy.
It's not easy for everybody. If you can't really play the one-on-one, this offense will expose you and you'll look really bad. For me, it fit my game. I've been playing that type of style my whole life. I've never lost a one-on-one game in my whole life.
" because if you bowl and you play well, you probably played well because you bowled on that lane," Self said. "It had nothing to do with Danny [Manning]."
So when John Calipari scrapped everything he ordinarily used in exchange for a little-known offense, it's a wonder they didn't strip him of his National Association of Basketball Coaches card.
Say what you will about Calipari -- and this week, it has all been said, implied or hinted at -- the man can coach. Recognizing he had freakish talent and size in his backcourt, Calipari installed the dribble-drive motion offense, a scheme that is predicated on spacing and angles, adhering to one golden and guiding principle: his guards' ability to win one-on-one.
And given that, as Joey Dorsey put it, Memphis has George Gervin and "Jason Kidd on steroids" in its backcourt, it's probably not a bad idea.
Given freedom to create, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose have unveiled a masterpiece, rolling the Tigers to the national championship game and a 38-1 record. The pair has been such a two-headed hydra in the NCAA tournament that, should the Tigers win the title, the two ought to share most outstanding player honors.
Stopping the pair -- something no one has done, frankly; one or the other has scored in double figures in 35 of 38 games -- is Kansas' clearest path to securing its first title since 1988.
"We have to eliminate them getting to the paint," Self said. "When they get to the paint, good things generally happen."
Joining the rank and file who have seen Rose live in this tournament, Self spoke in wonder about the point guard's remarkable talent. He said he watched a clip of Rose and saw him grab a rebound right out of the basket and, in four dribbles -- not even at full speed -- get to the other rim.
Long a fan of Douglas-Roberts' unorthodox game, Self was more impressed with the fact that CDR has turned himself into a solid outside shooter. His 3-point percentage this year skyrocketed from 32.8 percent to 41.3 percent.
Douglas-Roberts and Rose are affecting this tournament like no backcourt since Rip Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin led Connecticut to the title in 1999. Together, they are averaging 45 points per game, and the duo has left a trail of treadmarked backcourts in its wake. D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams gave up 25 by CDR and 21 by Rose; Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook surrendered 28 and 25, respectively.
More problematic, they are supersized guards. CDR stands a spindly 6-foot-7 and Rose a stocky 6-3.
Not expecting an overnight growth spurt to hit any of his players, Self will put 6-6 Brandon Rush on Douglas-Roberts, and Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, both 6-1, will have to contend with Rose.
"We've played big guards before," Robinson said. "That's where toughness matters. You can make up for a lot of size with that."
Calipari called Kansas and Memphis mirror images of one another -- and excluding the funhouse mirrors necessary to make Chalmers look as big as Rose and Robinson as tall as Douglas-Roberts -- he has a point.
The Jayhawks might be better-equipped to handle Memphis than anyone else in the country. UCLA and its plodding half-court game was done the minute it got sucked into the vortex of the Tigers' gas-pedal-go offense.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, just outgunned the gunners of all time. North Carolina and its second-ranked offense in the nation got blitzed coming out of the gate, 40-12.
"People forget, that's how we play, too," Chalmers said.
But Kansas doesn't play dribble-drive, and though an offensive scheme isn't winning player of the tournament honors anytime soon, it has made a difference for Memphis this year.
"It's really good," Self said. "And it's even better if you've got really good players."
When this offense is run with the efficiency Memphis is achieving, it seems as if there is a player wide open for a kick or a drive to the hoop on nearly every possession.
"It's not easy for everybody," Douglas-Roberts said. "If you can't really play the one-on-one, this offense will expose you and you'll look really bad. For me, it fit my game. I've been playing that type of style my whole life. I've never lost a one-on-one game in my whole life."
Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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NCAA Tournament 2008
Get caught up with all the news, notes, insights and analysis from the 2008 NCAA tournament.
Bracket• Updated Bracket | Tourney Challenge
Championship Analysis• Forde: Chalmers fulfills promise
• Wojciechowski: Self's big-bucks decision on OSU
• Katz: Memphis pays for free throws
• O'Neil: Collins makes heroics possible
• ATR: Quite a collection of talent in title game
Final Four Analysis• Experts: Who has the edge in the title game?
• Forde: Self on a wild ride, and it's just starting
• Wojciechowski: A quieter Joey Dorsey reflects
• Griffin: Rush thrives after knee injury
• O'Neil: CDR, Rose fuel Tigers' machine
• Katz: Calipari has chance for vindication
• Wojciechowski: Final Four duds
• ATR: End of the road for Love, Hansbrough?
• Forde: Good Kansas throttles UNC
• Katz: Williams takes blame for stunning UNC loss
• O'Neil: Rose leads Memphis to title game
• Wojciechowski: Power-packed Final Four
• Forde: One-and-dones hardly an academic issue
• O'Neil: Not Memphis vs. the world? Yeah, right
• Katz: KU ready for Arthur's breakout game
• Low: Don't forget about UNC's "other" guys
• Griffin: UCLA needs Shipp to shoot straight
• Forde: Williams torn between KU and UNC
• Expert picks: Who wins it all?
• Gottlieb: Rose vs. Collison matchup pivotal
• Fraschilla: Breaking down Kansas-UNC
• Glockner: Which Kansas team shows up?
• Griffin: Calipari battles for repsect
• Glockner: Memphis can win slowdown games, too
• Schlabach: Recent Final Four flameouts
• O'Neil: Collison a key point for the Bruins
• Glockner: Can UCLA's offense be more efficient?
• Katz: Lawson's injury may have helped UNC
• Glockner: Can UNC's defense hold up?
• Forde: Power prevails as Elite becomes Four
• Bilas: Tourney has "Wowed" so far
• Katz: Four unique stories shape Final Four
Video• Bill Self among KU coaching greats
• Kansas on being national champions
• Calipari: Costly mistakes down the stretch
• Chris Douglas-Roberts on Memphis' loss
• Bob Knight on Memphis' loss to KU
• Memphis gearing up to face Kansas
• Memphis, KU to meet for title
• Analysis: Kansas' win over North Carolina
• Analysis: Memphis' win over UCLA
• All the coaches talk Final Four
• Davidson's McKillop previews Final Four
• Who Are These Guys: Memphis
• Final Four Sitdown: Roy Williams
• Final Four Sitdown: Bill Self
• Final Four Sitdown: John Calipari
• Final Four Sitdown: Ben Howland
• Katz: Small window for UCLA, Memphis
• Vitale: Previews Final Four matchups
• Bilas: Likes the look of the Final Four
• Gottlieb: All No. 1 seeds reach Final Four
Audio• Bill Self on the title and Oklahoma State
• Podcast: Gottlieb on Kansas' national title
• Podcast: Gottlieb on title game X factors
• Roy Williams on Final Four return
• Podcast: Katz on Final Four coaches
• Bill Self talks Davidson game, Final Four
• Podcast: Gottlieb talks Final Four, Davidson
Photos• Championship game photo gallery
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NC State's 25th anniversary• Dinich: From star to one minute in title game
• Dinich: Kay Yow still fighting Valvano's fight
• Bob Valvano remembers brother's team
More• Rank the last 10 national champions
• Rank Chalmers' 3 vs. other big-time shots
• Vote: Memphis vs. Kansas for the title
• Vote: Which team will win it all?
• Vote: Test your Final Four team knowledge
• Tournament Challenge | Bracket Master
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