SEC Afternoon Five: National Championship Edition
Posted by Brian Joyce on April 3rd, 2012
- The Kentucky Wildcats have won its eighth national championship, and it’s all over but the analysis. The Lexington Herald Leader’s John Clay says the Cats won this championship because of how many superstars (and superstar-sized egos) came together as one unit. And Clay gives a lot of the credit for this molding of young stars to its superstar coach, John Calipari. The article states, “Calipari is the one who put this team together, who molded it, directed it, guided it, taught it most importantly how to play the game the right way.” And the right way was a balance of offensive and defensive efficiency that Kentucky relied upon all season.
- The local newspaper isn’t the only one giving Calipari credit for a job well done. Fox Sports says both Calipari and Kansas coach Bill Self deserve more credit for being excellent coaches and not just outstanding recruiters. “The one thing about Cal that goes unnoticed a little bit, though not in coaching circle, is he recruits and coaches good players and gets them to buy in and do it his way,” Self said. “They’re unselfish and they guard, and that’s the sign of a guy who can coach. He’s a unique guy, and I mean that in a favorable way.” Both coaches have proven that it isn’t talent alone that has gotten them this far, although talent certainly helps.
- Calipari won’t have any trouble recruiting more talent with the 2012 national championship ring on his hand. The argument against Calipari has always been that he couldn’t win the big one, and nobody could win it all with one-and-done players. Well, there goes that theory. As ESPN’s Dave Telep points out, “The brand (UK and Calipari) is stronger than anyone’s, the recruiting pitch has no holes and the success rate would be silly to challenge. Where’s the weakness?” After last night’s championship, it will be difficult to find one.
- Calipari’s players went out to win one for their beloved coach, but Cal is relieved that the chase is over. “You get emotional when they said they did it for me, they wanted me to win one. But for me, I’m telling you, I told my wife. It’s over now. I don’t need the drama of you guys saying, ‘He never won one.’ I can now coach my team and do what I do for young people. I don’t have to worry about it. If you’re having to make decisions to try to win a national title, think about it. I don’t want to do that. I just want to do my job, coach these young people, help them (with) life after basketball, prepare them for that and prepare them for their dreams.” The ironic part of Kentucky’s victory is that, as pointed out in the previous bullet, this only makes Calipari and the Cats’ brand even stronger. It is hard to imagine Calipari as an even better recruiter then he was before.
- Cal’s point guard, Marquis Teague, was a question mark for many entering the NCAA Tournament run. Teague had struggled throughout the year to lead Kentucky with the poise and stability of some of the Wildcats’ previous freshmen guards, but he answered in the Tournament with leadership and some big buckets. “I just wanted to knock it down,” Teague said of a huge three late in the game during a Kansas run. “Give my team a better chance to win.” Teague’s development now leads to a new question of whether or not he has done enough to solidify his chances of being highly selected in the NBA Draft. The deadline to declare for the NBA draft is April 29, although the NCAA has instituted a meaningless April 10 deadline (a player could simply change his mind between the two dates).
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