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Thanks for a great season, Kemba Walker. How many 6’1” point guards you know who can bring down nine, ten boards? This kid’s been the absolute truth the entire season.
But the true star of last night’s game was freshman guard Jeremy Lamb (Norcross, Ga. native!). He got the big goose egg in the first half, but once he exited the locker room and into the second half, the story changed immediately. He single-handedly brought the Huskies back from a three-point halftime deficit, and the lead was secure from then on.
What’s even awesomer is Lamb’s father, Rolando, hit the game-winning shot in 1984 as Virginia Commonwealth upset Jim Calhoun’s Northeastern in the tournament. Now Rolando’s son has a net for a necklace.
Big, big props to Jim Calhoun. What hasn’t he been through in the past few years? Friends and in-laws passing, battling cancer on and off and the pending NCAA improper benefits investigation. Pshaw! Now he’s the oldest coach, at 68, to win a national title.
Well done, Connecticut Huskies. Critics really doubted they’d make any sort of stamp this season. Last tournament, North Carolina, Arizona, UCLA and Connecticut failed to make it to the Dance, the first time that’s happened… in ever, I reckon. This season, all of ‘em returned, but the Huskies returned gloriously. They weren’t even ranked in the pre-season polls. They didn’t even receive votes to be considered.
Then BOOM! Once the Maui Invitational happened, UCONN happened. They knocked off then-No. 2 Michigan State and then-No. 9 Kentucky to take home their first of three (Big East Conference title, also) tournament titles. By Week Four, the Associated Press/ESPN polls both had ‘em in the Top 10.
They didn’t lose until they hit a No. 6 Pittsburgh in their conference-opener a couple of days after Christmas. And, actually, they only lost to Big East teams the entire season — and the conference sent a record (has to be, eh?) 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament.
I took all that to factor when I chose them to win it all on my bracket. They were a wonderful team. Granted I raved and raved about the awesomeness that is Kemba Walker, but he definitely had help. The frontcourt, led by Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith — both with four blocks in the game — bullied the hell outta Butler, givin’ ‘em a taste of their own medicine. UCONN did was Butler failed miserably at doing: excelling not only on the defensive end, but the offensive end, too. A double threat.
Needless to say: BRAVO. This team definitely deserved it.