Wally Szczerbiak: Have To Give Villanova Their Respect And Due

Villanova had a great Final Four weekend in Houston, winning two games by a combined 47 points. Of course, one of those wins came by 44 points, and another came by three.

So, which team would you rather be? Oklahoma or North Carolina? Blown out or dagger to the chest?

“Well, a good point has been brought up,” former NBA All-Star Wally Szczerbiak said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think we’ve got to differentiate are you a player on one of those teams that lost or are you a fan? I think it’s a different perspective. If I’m a player, I don’t want to be embarrassed and lose by 44 and have a historic loss on national TV like Buddy Hield and the Sooners did. That’s absolutely the worst way you can possibly lose. If you’re North Carolina, fought back from 10 down, (Marcus) Paige and (Joel) Berry had spectacular games, shot the ball very well, and Brice Johnson – despite being swarmed all over the place – still ended up with 14 and 8.”

“So I think as a player if you compete and put yourself in a position to try and get that game to overtime, and then you lose on a last-second shot, I think you can live with yourself and you can move on,” Szczerbiak continued. “I would much rather be in that situation where you’re beaten by a big-time clutch shot like last night as opposed to just quitting and being blown by 44 as a player.

“Now as a fan, I can see the perspective of having it right there in your hands and then (having it taken) away so quickly. I’m sure that’s tough to swallow. But as a fan, I wouldn’t want my team to lose by 44. I would be walking out of that stadium with my head between my legs and not really proud of how my team played.”

Either way, Villanova beat North Carolina, 77-74, on Monday to win its first national title since 1985. The Tar Heels were slight favorites in Las Vegas, and many analysts predicted that UNC’s size would be too much for Villanova to overcome.

Well, Vegas and the analysts were wrong. Villanova was more than capable.

But, the question must be asked: Did the better team win?

“If these teams played a seven-game series, I think it would go seven,” Szczerbiak said. “I really do. I think we got to give Villanova their respect and their due. Their guys are so smart and crafty. Their big guys know how to knock you on the hip when you’re going up to shoot a lay-up and finish. Let’s face it. Carolina is not exactly thick. They’re long, they’re lean and they’re a little light in the backside, if you know what I mean – and I think Villanova took advantage of that. In the interior, in the paint, they were able to muscle them a little bit. A couple times, Brice Johnson went up to finish and he ended up 15 feet from the basket and he got pogo-sticked out. So Villanova is a smart team. Not the most athletic team, but they know how to use angles, they know how to use their bodies, and I think they took advantage of that in not allowing Carolina to dominate the interior.”

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