Chalmers' big shot leads Kansas to first national title since 1988 Print
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Monday, 07 April 2008 19:38
NCAAB Headline News


 SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Mario Chalmers knew his historic moment was coming.
Jared Jack had all but predicted it back in 2004.
Chalmers was friends with Jack, a guard at Georgia Tech, which lost to Connecticut in the national final. Chalmers attended the game, which, by chance, was played at the Alamodome.
``I talked to him a little bit after the game,'' Chalmers said. ``He said, 'One day you'll be there. When you get there, make the most of your opportunity.' ``
Chalmers did precisely that. His 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play sent the national final into overtime, where Kansas pulled it out 75-68 over Memphis.
Chalmers, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, finished with 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. He made all six of his free throws and had three assists.
It's the Jayhawks' third NCAA title, and their first since 1988.
The Jayhawks have endured countless disappointments in the NCAA tournament, and they looked like they were headed for another until Chalmers took a pass, and launched the tying shot from the top of the key.
``That has to be one of the biggest shots in basketball history,'' said Kansas guard Rodrick Stewart, who missed the Final Four after fracturing his kneecap during practice Friday.
Said teammate Sasha Kaun, ``I was just looking at it with my mouth open.''
Chalmers was asked afterward if he was aware of the historical significance of his shot.
``No, I'm not,'' Chalmers said. ``I just know that it was a big shot. My teammates had confidence in me. Coach (Bill) Self had confidence in me.''
No wonder. With each year, the 6-foot-1 junior from Anchorage has become a better shooter from beyond the 3-point arc. He has gone from a 37.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc as a freshman to 40.4 percent as a sophomore and 47.6 as a junior.
He saved his best for a night that college basketball fans will long remember.
After the big 3-pointer Chalmers' teammates mobbed him as he returned to the bench for a timeout. At the other end, the Tigers walked off the floor, heads bowed.
The game was still tied, but it felt as if Chalmers had won it.
``I just knew that we had the game after that,'' forward Darrell Arthur said.
Chalmers also did some good work on the defensive end. Among the nation's steal leaders all season, Chalmers had four. That was the most among the Jayhawks on a night they totaled 11 steals and took the high-scoring Tigers out of their comfort zone on offense.
At times, Chalmers seemed to be everywhere - pestering the Tigers on defense and then slicing into the lane at the other end of the floor, only to find an open teammate.
When it ended, he was in the best place of all - on a podium at center court, hoisting a national championship trophy with his teammates.
``It's something that we got here, and we all believed in ourselves,'' Chalmers said.
 

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