City Sports Report

The unsung heroes for each Final Four team

Notre Dame v Duke

The Final Four is upon us and the four teams are the University of Kentucky, Duke University, Michigan State University and the University Of Wisconsin. All four have been through some challenges along the way, but they have made it there to Indianapolis for a shot at the title. But if it were not for the unsung heroes of each team, they would not have survived and advanced to the Final Four. You always hear about the star guys, but you never hear about the guys that are essential to their teams winning the title. Let’s introduce you to these guys from each team.

Kentucky-Trey Lyles

Trey Lyles was one of the big crew of McDonald’s All-Americans that came into Kentucky this past season. Of course all the acclaim was for his fellow freshman Karl-Anthony Towns. And without question, Towns deserved the praise. But without Lyles, the Wildcats do not make the Final Four this season. Looking at his average points per game in the Tournament (11 points per game), many would not think he has been all that special. But if you take a look at his impact on the game, his stats do not do him justice. The biggest thing about Lyles is his versatility. He is 6’10” small forward that can shoot the jump shot and handle the basketball on the perimeter along with being able to post up and play inside. But along with that, he allows the Wildcats to stay big when going to their smaller lineup. His ability to play the power forward position because of his size helped the Wildcats win the game on the defensive end versus an undersized Norte Dame squad.

Duke-Quinn Cook

Coming into the season, the Blue Devils touted some talented freshmen just like Kentucky. McDonald’s All-Americans Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor were touted as the faces of this team. And throughout the season, they both got all the acclaim along with their fellow freshman Justice Winslow. But it was the veteran guard Quinn Cook that has been around a while that was the source of a lot of big shots for the Blue Devils this postseason. The senior shot 10/24(42%) from three-point range so far this postseason and he continues to be the one that makes the needed plays for this team. Along with making some big plays count, he also provides the leadership on this team. Instead of them leaning on the coach to provide guidance, they looked to #2 in blue and white to give them the talk they needed. And without a doubt, he and Tyus Jones have combined to have one of the best backcourts in college basketball this season.

Michigan State- Brandon Dawson

This Michigan State team is one that was not expected to make it this far in the Tournament. But with the clutch play of point guard Travis Trice, the team has found a way to make it happen. All the accolades for making it this far will go to Trice, but Brandon Dawson deserves a lot of the praise as well. The senior guard/forward came in with a lot of hype surrounding his abilities on the court. But as time as gone on, his explosive abilities have been best served helping the Spartans control the boards. Even though he is really undersized, Dawson plays in the paint a lot. And standing at 6’6”, he is a bull in a china shop in the post, getting nine or more rebounds a game and helping earn the Spartans extra possessions. Along with the rebounds, he is also the best shot blocker on the Michigan State team, having two or more blocks in three of the four games they have played in so far. Without a doubt, Trice has hit some big shots, but if it was not for the dirty work of the senior from Gary, Indiana, the Spartans would definitely be sitting at home instead of in Indianapolis for the Final Four.

Wisconsin-Bronson Koenig

Wisconsin was set to be one of the best teams in the country. They returned big man Frank Kaminsky, wing player Sam Dekker and point guard Traveon Jackson to a team that was in the Final Four last season. Everything seemed to be ready for them to make another run. But when Jackson broke his foot, there were many questions as to how this Badgers team would run without him. Those questions were answered by backup point guard Bronson Koenig. The sophomore stepped in and the offense did not miss a beat the rest of the season and in the postseason either. Jackson worked his way back, but it is clear that it is Koenig’s show to run at this point and that Jackson is not healthy as he would like to be. His stats don’t stand out a bunch, but he keeps that Badgers offense running smooth at all times and makes sure his playmakers get it in the correct positions.

These four players have been pivotal pieces to their teams making it as far as they have. And without question, if any of these four win the title, these four players will certainly play a pivotal role in how they do. There is always stars that will stick out more than others, but without the unsung heroes, these teams could potentially be sitting at home right now.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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