The first Final Four that I covered was in 1981 in Philadelphia. The championship game was delayed on Monday night, after President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley earlier in the day.
Sophomore guard Isiah Thomas maintained his uneasy peace with coach Bobby Knight to lead Indiana to the title, then left for the NBA.
My most enjoyable Final Four was in 1990: UNLV 103, Duke 73. If you can’t get a laugh seeing the Dookies lose by 30, you have no sense of humor.
The last Final Four that I’ll have on my résumé was in 2008 in San Antonio, when four No. 1 seeds made it for the first time: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA and Kansas.
The fourth choice entering the semifinals of the well-balanced field was Kansas. The Jayhawks wound up as the winners, blitzing North Carolina 84-66 on Saturday, and then beating Memphis 75-68 in overtime on Monday.
Kansas required Memphis’ four misses in five free throws and Mario Chalmers’ three at the buzzer to get to overtime.
North Carolina carried the No. 1 overall seed and, boom, it was down 40-12 on Saturday to Kansas. Perhaps Timberwolves coach Tim Thibodeau found a tape before signing his free agent deals this month.
Brandon Rush led the Jayhawks with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting. Freshman center Cole Aldrich played 13 minutes in the first half and had six points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Aldrich did this while roughing up Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina’s national Player of the Year. Once, Aldrich and Hansbrough shared hands on the ball, and Cole fiercely pulled it away and scored. In another tangle, Aldrich muscled Hansbrough to the floor and was assessed a foul.
On Monday, Aldrich’s minutes were limited in the upset of Memphis, but KU fans didn’t care. The large young man from Bloomington Jefferson had done his duty in the semis.
Rush left Kansas and was the 13th pick in the 2008 draft. Aldrich also stayed through his junior season and was the 11th pick in 2010. And now they are reunited as Timberwolves.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Tremendous NBA players from the 2008 Final Four (in order):
Russell Westbrook, UCLA sophomore: Westbrook had 22 points vs. Memphis and said of the Tigers: “They just was some real tough players.’’
Derrick Rose, Memphis freshman: Rose was magnificent vs. UCLA and very good vs. Kansas, but he missed FTs that would have clinched the title game.
Kevin Love, UCLA freshman: He was worked on the boards by Memphis’ Joey Dorsey and shot 4-for-11 in the semis.