It was the shot that people around the country saw, and it took place at the Al McGuire Center, Jan. 10. The shot was on ESPN’s Sports Center, and it was one of the top ten plays of the day.
I have that shot on my cell phone. Part of me should feel guilty that I didn’t attend the Marquette women’s Big East game against visiting Villanova. The game was on national TV on CBS College Sports. What if it wasn’t on national TV? Would there have been any proof on videotape that someone on the Marquette women’s team made that shot?
Sophomore Katie Young made the 40-foot shot that gave the Golden Eagles a 51-50 win over the Wildcats. Marquette got the game-winner from an unlikely hero, and it couldn’t have happened to a great young woman.
The shot wouldn’t have been possible if sophomore Katherine Plouffe didn’t make the pass that led to the shot. What was amazing about the shot was that after Plouffe passed the ball to Young, there was a Villanova player who had a hand in Young’s face, and Young still got a good look at the basket. The ball went in and it was all net.
Marquette was ahead against Villanova for most of the game. The Wildcats led 48-46 late in the game. Plouffe was fouled and made two free-throws that tied the game at 48-48. A basket by Villanova’s Rachel Roberts put the Wildcats ahead again at 50-48, with 1 minute 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Roberts was fouled with three seconds left and missed at the line. Plouffe explained how the drama unfolded and turned into euphoria on the Al McGuire court.
“On the previous play,” Plouffe said, “Villanova was on the free-throw line. We’re just trying to say (to teammates), ‘Keep your heads in the game. The game is not over yet. We still had three seconds.’ I had this feeling that (Roberts) was going to miss the free-throws.”
All you need is one last opportunity to either make something happen or fall short of a miracle. In that scenario, there was no time to call a timeout and think about what to do with three seconds left. It was about getting off a shot and see what happened.
“There was no set play,” Plouffe said. “It was just to get the ball and go. We had three seconds, so it was to get the ball up the court as fast as possible.”
Young caught the ball and let it fly. After the ball went in the basket, she ran off the court in jubilation and her teammates celebrated.
“I was pretty excited,” Young said. “I didn’t know what to do. I ran off the court in complete euphoria. I couldn’t really explain it. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
Sometimes, the unlikely hero gets the most attention. “I got so many calls from everybody in the Kenosha (WI) area,” Young said. “People that I haven’t talked to in years (called). I’m pretty sure that everybody saw it on Sports Center.”
When I talked to Plouffe, I asked her if she thought about taking the shot, but it was impossible, especially when she saw a teammate who was already across half court.
“(Young) did have the best chance,” she said. “I was just concerned with getting it up (the court). I wasn’t looking to be the hero.”
Said Young, “Villanova was playing me tight the entire game, saying, ‘Shooter, shooter, shooter.’ I really didn’t think that I was going to get the ball, but KP (Katherine Plouffe) got a great rebound, passed it to me, and I just shot it. I didn’t know (it was going in). It was a blessing from God.”
I asked Young if she ever made a last second shot in grade school or high school. “In high school (at Kenosha Bradford), I made a buzzer beater but not that far out,” she said. So was it better to make a game-winning shot in a regular season game or in a postseason tournament game? “Tournament time,” said Young, when choosing her ideal situation of making a buzzer shot, “because it’s win or go home. That would be way more important.”
Is the Bucks Coach the Problem?
For all this talent that the Milwaukee Bucks have, they still can’t put it together on the court. Who is it to blame and where does the problem lie? Maybe you think that the problem is with head coach Scott Skiles. Is it?
The Bucks made the playoffs a couple of years ago. Whatever message that Skiles is trying to get across isn’t getting to the players. Do you think that Skiles is losing the team? When the Chicago Bulls were losing and had chemistry problems, they let Skiles go.
Until their recent road win at New York, the Bucks wasn’t a team capable of winning away from the Bradley Center. At stake are playing time and the constant lineup changes. There are too many good players on that team and not enough minutes to go around. For example, why did the coach sit some of his starters in fourth quarter of some games in favor of a couple of rookies?
There may be some doubt about the abilities of the captain who’s running the ship. If the ship isn’t going in the right direction, then you change captains.
Remembering Joe Paterno
There will be sadness in college football with the passing of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno. He was 85 years old. The man who was at Penn State since 1950 can go in peace knowing that he doesn’t have to deal with the accusations by a former assistant coach that led to his firing.