Throughout the course of a game, there are many possessions. Even a slow-paced affair allows about 60 per team. During that course, the game can shape and reshape according to the ebb and flow. If the game happens to be settled on the free throw line, that is what stands out. Almost forgotten are those plays and possessions leading up to the point when the shooter takes the ball, gets set, bends the knees, releases and hits. Or doesn't.
In the finals of the NIT, it all came down to that. Forty-five minutes, thanks to overtime, saw the result dictated by a shooter fifteen feet from the basket. No defense, except for the self-imposed pressure. The time, as legendary coach Pete Carril (who coached an NIT champion three decades ago at Princeton) once said, “the free throw line is the only place selfishness is encouraged.”
Chasson Randle of Stanford broke the school's all-time scoring record two nights earlier. The prolific guard will be remembered for this night. He stepped to the line and calmly canned two free throws to give the Cardinal a lead it would not relinquish. A final shot by Miami fell short.
Stanford, winner of its second NIT in four years, and Miami, both battled hard and gave everyone a game worthy of championship caliber. Almost forgotten was a Miami team, trailing by 11, that would not go away. That was the mantra of Jim Larranaga’s club during this outstanding run. For Johnny Dawkins and his Stanford group, it was about putting the ball in Randle’s capable hands in crunch time. It also epitomized a will to win, as Miami had a late three-point lead with under a minute to play and momentum on its side.
In the end, Randle captured the well-deserved Most Outstanding Player award. The fans will remember the two free throws that sealed it. In retrospect, Randle did so much more individually and collectively during this tournament, a thorough performance worthy of his bestowed accolades. A performance that lifted his team to the NIT championship.
Stanford's big men drilled their post moves and footwork pregame:
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla chats with Miami assistants Chris Caputo and Michael Huger:
Miami's Ja'Quan Newton looks for an opening on the perimeter:
Fundamental: Do not unnecessarily leave your feet. Stanford's Rosco Allen is caught airborne here on a Miami inbounds:
With the game still in the balance, Chris Fallon begins unpacking the NIT hardware just outside the entrance to the court:
Miami's dribble penetration posed a problem for Stanford. Here, Sheldon McClellan of the Hurricanes goes hard to the basket:
In the waning moments, with the game on the line, Stanford had the ball in the hands of Chasson Randle:
For victorious Stanford, this marked the Cardinal's second NIT title in four years:
A final shot outside Madison Square Garden taken by Jaden Daly, as the Daly Dose Of Hoops live season comes to an end after covering his 113th game of 2014-15: