MUSINGS ON the day after.
The Utes would be national champions, but for a few what ifs. What if . . .. . . The Utes' opponent had been anyone besides Kentucky, the team that's "got our number," as Utah assistant coach Jeff Judkins puts it?
. . . Kentucky hadn't been able to overcome a 17-point deficit to beat Duke in the regional finals?
. . . Stanford, whom the Utes beat in last year's NCAA tournament, had beaten Kentucky in overtime two days earlier?
. . . The Utes knew how to hold a lead late in the game? In all four of their losses this season, they blew leads of 10 points or more.
. . . Rick Majerus' teams were as good on offense as they are on defense and rebounding?
. . . Hanno Mottola hadn't missed an open three-point shot when the Utes trailed 70-65 - the same shot he swished earlier in the game?
. . . The Utes had continued to dominate the boards after out-rebounding Kentucky 24-6 in the first half?
. . . The Wildcats hadn't become the first team all season to shoot better than 49 percent from the field against the Utes (50.9)?
. . . Mike Doleac had been able to score a field goal in the last 25 minutes of the game?
. . . The Utes had been able to adjust when the Wildcats, after trying to avoid Doleac in the first half, were ordered by their coach to attack him?
. . . Mottola's short baseline jump shot had fallen in the final minute, down by six, or Drew Hansen's subsequent rebound shot hadn't failed to clear the rim?
. . . Andre Miller's slashes to the basket had resulted in scores instead of rim outs and blocks when it was a four-point game in the final minutes?
. . . Cameron Mills, who averaged four points off the bench, hadn't drained two three-point shots in the second half to turn the game's momentum?
. . . Hansen had been able to get around a screen soon enough to deny the three-point by Mills that pulled Kentucky within one point in the final four minutes?
. . . Keith Van Horn had redshirted a year so that he could've played this year?
. . . Jeff Johnsen had been in San Antonio instead of Fresno?
. . . Senior Jeff Sheppard, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player who collected 16 points against Utah and 27 against Stanford, hadn't redshirted last season?
. . . The Utes made more than four three-point shots, the fourth fewest in a championship game?
. . . Majerus had had enough confidence in his bench to give his starters more rest, saving them for a strong finish?