Bill Frieder looks back on the Final Four

04/12/2013

Boxed Out by Bill FriederWhat do Gregg Marshall, Brad Stevens, Tommy Amaker, Billy Gillespie, John Beilein, Mike Rice and the late Rick Majerus have in common? Scroll down to the end…

What a great Final Four it was. My gosh Michigan was so good, but Louisville just wouldn’t go away. This marked the first time that two coaches in their 60s met in the championship game, so it might be time to put to rest that you have to be a young coach to understand kids today. Some thoughts from the Final Four…

In the Cards for Pitino:

The job Rick Pitino did was masterful and just being around his kids all weekend you could just tell how much he loved his team and how much they loved him. He poked fun at his own players in press conferences and smiled the whole weekend. If I was going into the Hall of Fame, had a horse make the Kentucky Derby and was about to coach in the national title game, I would probably be smiling all the time as well. Congratulations to guys like Luke Hancock and Peyton Siva, who have put themselves among the greats in Louisville history.

Go Blue:

I have watched college basketball a long time, and it is hard to remember a guard like Trey Burke with his long-range shooting and strength. Mitch McGary is a first-team All-American if he returns and the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry has just turned up a notch or two. My gosh, think about this: where does the next great player from Detroit go? Stay tuned.

Hang it up when you want:

Can we all agree to quit bothering Jim Boeheim on when he will retire? He has now reached the Final Four in four decades. It wouldn’t shock me if he did it in five. He is in great shape, has a program with great crowds, tradition and future NBA players, not to mention a beautiful wife and family to keep him young. He could retire this week and it wouldn’t shock me, or he could be there in 2020 and that wouldn’t shock me either.

Chances of another Shocker?

Gregg Marshall is going to have a hard time replicating what he did this year, as nearly all the experts know that it is nearly impossible to take a program that is not in a major conference to the Final Four in back-to-back seasons…you have to go all the way back to… well, Butler in 2010 and 2011. So I am here to say that Wichita State has a chance to be right back in the Final Four with all the good things Marshall has in his program. Wichita State supports its basketball and has a coach who can get them back there. They take care of their kids and program.

The difference:

I said on the Westwood One pregame show that Michigan had the better players, but Louisville had the Hall of Fame coach, and as a result, it was the Cardinals who would win the national championship. They had the experience, veterans and know-how to get it done down the stretch. I did think they got a huge assist from Michigan when the coaching staff was not aware of the foul situation, and as a result, wasted valuable seconds getting Louisville to the free throw line. I also felt that in the first half, Trey Burke should have been put back into the game when Louisville started cutting into the Wolverines’ double-digit lead. Burke did have 2 fouls, but he’s the Player of the Year and knows how to play in those situations. Bottom line is that Michigan might have let one get away, but it doesn’t negate the great tournament run and season that they had. Every Big Ten team should be thanking them for the job that they did with such a young team.

Raise ’em up:

When Michigan was introduced last Saturday and again on Monday,the NCAA referred to them as being back at the Final Four for the first time since 1993. I was surprised because the NCAA vacated that season, which means it technically didn’t exist. Does this mean the banners can go back up in Ann Arbor? Just saying.

Common ground:

So what do Gregg Marshall, Brad Stevens, Tommy Amaker, Billy Gillespie, John Beilein, Mike Rice and the late Rick Majerus have in common? They were all hired for the 2007-08 season, five years ago. Take a look at this list and remember what you thought when the schools hired who they did in the spring of 2007.

Have a great summer! And I’ll leave you with this: I am picking an all-Wildcat final in 2014. Arizona versus Kentucky. Two Pittsburgh natives who love their Steelers meet in Dallas Cowboy country.

— Bill Frieder

Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.

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