After all these years, and... for the first time, seeing the entire game again.. I can say what I've always suspected: Akeem Olajuwon screwed up on that last play. He was still VERY green at Basketball. Learning at an unbelievable pace. But, on that last play he was just standing in front of the basket, watching the ball. He SHOULD have been blocking out his man, Lorenzo Charles.
And, here's another thing: so much talk about Guy Lewis blowing it by going into the stall. With 8 minutes left, and an 8 point lead, the Coogs went into 4 corner, delay offense when Akeem had to go to the bench. I actually AGREE with that decision, and it didn't hurt them at all. What hurt was, a few minutes later, when Akeem returned to the game. They STAYED in the stall offense, even when the lead was down to 2 points. THAT, was a mistake.
So many things that piled up against Houston: Playing at altitude, NO shot clock, 1st year ever of the 3 point line, ONLY year EVER when the 3 pt line was the distance of Top of the Key all the way around, NO Double bonus Free Throws... only 1 and 1.... it was destiny.
For all of the pain of that loss, even at the time, I couldn't help but feel happy for Jim Valvano. That year was the FIRST TIME we ever had ESPN on cable. It was the FIRST time we'd ever watched the NCAA BBall tourney game by game. My best friend and I had seen every NC State game in that tourney. It was the ultimate Cinderella story. They were double digits behind in their first 5 games... but, exploited the free throw and 3 point rules to make amazing comebacks. It was a terrific story.
I was so pissed NC State won that game - and Villanova in 85. Never would have happened with the shot clock. I used to hate watching Dean Smith with all that talent play 4 corners - woosie basketball in my opinion.