The final game of the 2017 college basketball season wasn’t the best that the sport had to offer. In fact, North Carolina’s 71-65 win over Gonzaga in the national championship Monday night provided little in the aesthetics department.
“Ugly game, certainly,” Fox Sports 1 college basketball analyst Casey Jacobsen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You can blame the officials if you want to because as a former shooter, when a game is choppy – and officials made that game very choppy with all the fouls – it breaks up the rhythm for both teams. It’s hard to shoot a high percentage in a huge arena like that in that type of environment with the referees calling it the way that they did.”
Each team was whistled for 22 fouls and shot 26 free throws. Shooting percentages were abysmal across the board.
“The referees didn’t cause 20 combined missed free throws,” Jacobsen said. “At a time in the game, I was watching and I was like, ‘Does either team want to win this game, or are they fatigued?’ But neither team shot well. My biggest takeaway was that Carolina won despite shooting 4-for-27 from three, they won despite their best scorer having an awful night, and they won despite being out-rebounded. So UNC is as tough a basketball team as there is – because I always say that great teams figure out a way to win when they’re not playing well. They figure out a way to win ugly games, and to me, UNC did that.”
That includes Roy Williams, who became the sixth coach to win at least three national titles. He joins John Wooden (11), Mike Krzyzewski (five), Adolph Rupp (four), Jim Calhoun (three) and Bob Knight (three).
“(Williams is) fantastic, and I would have loved to have played for him,” said Jacobsen, who played at Stanford from 1999-2002. “He’s got a nice temperament. His temperament is kind of even-keel, which reminds me a lot of Coach (Mike) Montgomery in that fact. He gets after you, but he really is selective with his spots, and he also always has a really good assistant coaching staff with him.”
Williams, 66, coached at Kansas from 1988-2003 and has been at Carolina for 14 seasons. He’s been to nine Final Fours and is 3-2 in national-title games.
“You don’t coach at place like Kansas and North Carolina and win almost 80 percent of your games if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Jacobsen said. “I’ve never met a guy who played for Roy who didn’t really like him and still have a relationship with him, which I think speaks volumes on a personal level. And this (Carolina team) is a team that isn’t loaded with NBA draft picks. It’s not a team that’s loaded with one-and-done guys. Roy Williams has been able to be successful (without one-and-done players). The reason they’ve gotten to two national title games (in the last two years) and won one title last night wasn’t because they have total lottery-pick studs; it’s because they have chemistry, they have guys that stay three or four years, they play defense, they move the basketball, and they’re two-deep at every position. That’s why they’re here – and that’s why I think Gonzaga might be a team that could get to another Final Four next season.”