Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Cool Hand Luke

image source: Robert Deutsch, USA Today Sports

A little more than a week ago, Luke Hancock, a relatively unknown player transfer from George Mason University got our attention. He ran from the bench to aid his fallen teammate, Kevin Ware. He comforts Kevin which enables Kevin and the Louisville team to regain their composure and win the game against Duke, 85-63, to reach the Final Four.

Two days after the Duke game, "Cool Hand" Luke comes off the bench to score 20 points in their semi-final match against Wichita State. Near the closing seconds of the game, he misses a second free throw attempt and immediately shifts into defensive mode. From the missed shot rebound, he ties up Wichita State's Ron Baker in what many consider a questionable jump ball. Regardless, this enables Louisville to regain possession and win the game, 72-68.

In the championship game against Michigan, Luke shoots an eye popping 5-for-5 from 3-point range. At game's end, he scores 22 points. The first four shots enable Louisville to eliminate a double-digit deficit (the second in as many games) in the first half of the game and defeat Michigan, 82-76. Luke's stats for the entire Final Four tournament, 8-for-10 shots made. ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan's blog post in Men's College Basketball Nation writes a great detailed account of Luke's accomplishments in the Final Four.

For me, this year's Final Four was the most exciting series of games I've seen at least 15 years. It started with my alma mater, Ohio State, and their attempt to make to the Final Four for the second consecutive year after making the Elite Eight. Then the emotion of the Louisville-Duke game snagged me hook, line and sinker. Their chemistry and the ability to come-from-behind reminded me so much of my beloved San Francisco Giants, who fought off 6 elimination games to win the 2012 World Series.

Congratulations to Coach Rick Pitino, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Tim Henderson, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, Mike Marra, Stephan Van Treese, Logan Baumann, Jordan Bond, Montrezl Harrell, Zach Price, Michael Balfour, Mike Marra, and Kevin Ware.
Best wishes to Luke's ailing dad, Bill, and the rest of the Hancock family.

And the man we won't forget, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four Tournament, Luke Hancock. The force was with you.

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