We have all witnessed history. On many, many levels. We wake up this morning with UConn as champions of college basketball; the Huskies the last team standing at the end of an absolutely incredible postseason rampage that included winning five Big East Tournament games in five days and then reeling off the six Ws needed to win the NCAA Tournament. That type of run would have been considered unreal for a top-ranked team – the fact that it was put together by a UConn squad that wasn’t even ranked until Week 4 of the season and then entered the Big East Tourney as a No. 9 seed is just absurd. History will remember this Connecticut squad as one of the most unlikely championship teams in college basketball history … Kemba Walker should donate his kicks (Air Jordan 6-17-23) to Springfield. He’s been wearing these ever since the start of the Big East Tournament and hasn’t lost since. After the Big East tourney, he told us he was ready to go get six more Ws … To the game … It was clear from the very first possession that even though everyone loved the idea of the “team” that Butler had, the Bulldogs were gonna be in for an uphill battle the entire evening. UConn was significantly taller, longer and more athletic at almost every spot on the floor. Scouts, players and coaches have often told us that the biggest difference between mid/lower Division I players and even Division II players isn’t skill level, it’s size. A guard from a “Mid-Major” like Shelvin Mack is 6-3, while a guard from the Big East like Jeremy Lamb is 6-5 with lank for days. Both teams were playing their guts out, especially on defense for the entire first half, but the Huskies seemed to be getting every rebound and scoring inside solely because of their height advantage. With six minutes to go in the first half, points in the paint tallied 14-0 in favor of UConn (out of 19 total for the Huskies) and it only got worse from there. If UConn was more skilled inside and if their bigs were in straight attack mode, they could have destroyed Butler. Looking back, we guess the Bulldogs had a pretty lucky draw in the sense that they never had to play an inside killer in the tournament. Can you imagine if they had to deal with the monster that is Derrick Williams at any point? That would have been an abrupt end to their run … The first half was a study in gritty defensive stands – Steve Kerr likened it to watching the Steelers and the Ravens. Not pretty basketball by any stretch, but entertaining in its own right, yet Greg Anthony seemed genuinely offended that he had to be subjected to any of it. He kicked off the halftime show by saying, “I want to start by saying that was the worst half of basketball ever in a championship game.” Charles Barkley chimed in later, commenting on Butler’s lead, “A team that made six fields goal has the lead. That’s sad.” … While beauty was in the eye of the beholder in the first half, there’s no denying that the second half was hideous. Butler’s offensive futility reached comical depths as they shot 18.8% for the game – the worst championship performance ever. They were a mind-numbing 3-31 from 2-point range. The craziest thing is that while UConn played serious defense, Butler was just stupendously inept on offense. Layups were blown, mid-range shots rimmed out, foul shots were missed, long jumpers bricked. It was really tough to watch. We kept waiting for Mack to go off, but his first two points of the second half came with two minutes to play and his team down 12. By then it was way too late, and UConn coasted to the 53-41 victory. It wasn’t as bad as this, but it ended up being a relatively easy UConn win … We really hope that Brad Stevens doesn’t let 6-11 center Andrew Smith come back until he figures out how to catch a basketball and finish around the hoop. If you were rooting for Butler, you were probably screaming at your TV in frustration watching him try to grab rebounds, make layups or just not get his weak stuff swatted by UConn defenders. He was torture to watch … With the victory, Jim Calhoun joins an elite group of coaches with three or more NCAA titles. The others are John Wooden (10), Adolph Rupp (4), Coach K (4) and Bobby Knight (3). And at 68 years old, Calhoun is now also the oldest coach to win a title … So what’s next for both programs? Butler has four recruits signed for next year: Jackson Aldridge (PG), Roosevelt Jones (SF), Kameron Woods (PF) and Andy Smeathers (SF) [all passable porn names]. UConn only has one recruit signed for next year: Ryan Boatright (PG) … The main NBA news from Monday was the announcement of this year’s Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class: Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Tara VanDerveer, Tex Winter, Artis Gilmore, Arvydas Sabonis, and Philly hoops legend Herb Magee, among others … We’re out like Butler buckets.
Smack / Apr 5, 2011 / 1:42 am