Final Four loss still stings

 

April 11, 2014

"HOMER" on SPORTS
Steve "The Homer" True


I am not over the Wisconsin Final Four semifinal loss to Kentucky.

Wisconsin lost because Aaron Harrison hit a 3point shot with seconds remaining.

I understand that the Harrison shot wasn’t the only reason the Badgers lost the game. They were sloppy with the ball in the second half. They were the best in the country in NOT turning the ball over, yet the Badgers had a number of unforced mistakes in the final 20 minutes.

Traevon Jackson missed 1 of 3 free throws in the final few seconds of the game. Jackson also missed a jump shot just before the buzzer that would have won the game.

Those events were disappointing, but they were not gut wrenching. The loss was devastating because of the Harrison shot.

No way he was going to make the shot. It wasn’t going in. It was a stupid shot. It was the wrong thing to do. When he shot the ball, I was thinking that the Badgers were going to win the game because he got greedy. He had made some incredible late-game 3s in the NCAA Tournament, but lightning doesn’t strike three times in the same place. Michael Jordan in his prime never did what Aaron Harrison was trying to do. The play was to drive the ball to the basket and get the game tying hoop. Kentucky had been dominating inside, and they weren’t guaranteed a basket but the odds were in their favor.

Josh Gasser was guarding Harrison perfectly. He was way behind the 3-point arc. He had not taken a 3-point shot in the game.

As the shot left his hand, I was thanking, “Aaron Harrison, thank you. You just put Wisconsin in the championship game.”

I knew he had hit the game-winner against Michigan from almost the same spot with just seconds remaining in that game. In fact, he hit three shots from long range in the final 4:22 against Michigan. I knew Harrison had also given Kentucky the lead with a 3point shot with 40 seconds left in their victory over Louisville. It could be argued that he had shown he was a clutch shooter. I was emailed by someone who said he had the clutch gene. Total garbage. No player can shoot significantly better in such pressure situations. In most cases, it would be called a stupid gene. It’s taking shots that are not the best play for the team.


Aaron Harrison couldn’t do it again. It would be the greatest clutch shooting in the history of basketball. He’s not that good. He’s not even close to that good. He was a 36 percent 3-point shooter for the season. He was 2 for 6 from long range before the shot against Louisville. He was 1 for 3 from beyond the arc before hitting the final 3 against Michigan.

I repeat. I don’t believe Michael Jordan ever did what Aaron Harrison was trying to do when he put up the 3-point shot from way behind the arc with seconds left against Wisconsin.

I’ll admit it’s not a given that Wisconsin was going to win the game if Harrison missed the shot. Kentucky might have rebounded the ball and scored to send the game into overtime.

That would have been acceptable.

Harrison took the wrong shot – and Kentucky won the game.

I’m over it now. I can move on.

BUT ...

I’ll never remember anything else about the game.

It will always be wrong.

“Wrong” as in Aaron Harrison was 1 for 5 behind the arc in Kentucky’s championship game loss to UConn. He must have left the clutch gene at home, because he also missed a 3-point shot in the final minute.

Steve “The Homer” True writes a regular column for The Freeman. He can be heard on the “Homer and Thunder” show from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays on 540ESPN. He can be reached at homer@espnmilwaukee.com.