NCAA Tournament: Kentucky’s Run Not a Cinderella Story
Written by David “Peter Pan” Adams III. Media by Steven Potter.
It is that time of the year again ladies and gentlemen- the best part of College Basketball! The regular season has come to end but the insanity and craziness of March Madness has begun. As the tournament has unfolded, there have been several upsets, and teams that you think would have not of survived through the first round made some runs. Mercer University, Dayton University, Harvard University, and even Kentucky made big leaps in the tournament, writing down new Cinderella stories.
However, I do not consider Kentucky a Cinderella team due to the fact that they have one of the most talented freshmen classes ever. They are an eight seed in the tournament, which is certainly underdog material, but during their season they were just inconsistent with wins and losses. Recently, Kentucky has shown that they are capable of the big time moment. Head Coach of Kentucky, John Calipari has told his players that they are going to miss shots and most likely be down. “The most important part is to react quickly and confidently from the bumps and blows during the game because we can win.” Calipari said in a halftime interview during their game against Wichita State. The Kentucky Wildcats were not expected to beat the number one seeded Wichita State in the west bracket, or even beat the 2nd ranked team Michigan and 3rd ranked Louisville on their side of the bracket. In the last three games Kentucky has not only surprised fans, but they have done so in a way that has made it very exciting to watch them win. Also, Kentucky is a team with only freshmen and sophomores playing the basis of the entire game. It is very interesting because these freshmen and sophomores were some of the best recruits in high school basketball last year and two years ago. They struggled during the regular season but through the chaotic season, have discovered who they are and most importantly their identity as a team. They are not worried about who is taking the most shots or who is in the game, but are concerned about giving it there all on defense and offense. Playing as hard as you can on both sides of the court is what it takes to win and they are finally realizing that, which is exciting to watch. When playing hard on both sides of the court, your team can get tired and exhausted. With Kentucky’s deep depth chart of highly talented freshmen and a few sophomores, that is not a problem. Coach John Calipari subs his players in and out frequently. This comes to show that Coach Calipari does not get enough credit as he should. The amount of belief he has for his team has shown in this magical tournament of fantastic, entertaining games. Only a few loyal Kentucky fans believed that they would have gone all the way to final four this year in the NCAA tournament. That is not a lot of fans… However, Kentucky is proving that the one and done is difficult. The one and done theory is when highly recruited high school ballers go to school just for one year and enter into their name into the NBA draft. At first, this process is very difficult because there is so much talent and egos that demand respect and starting positions from high-schoolers transitioning to college basketball. But if Coach Calipari routes his teams so that they are playing well together, and keeps a few upper classmen on his team with experience, the sky is the limit. At times the limit is the ground with the talent Coach Calipari brings into Kentucky’s program. Sometimes his team performs magical seasons and other times they do not. For instance, last year Kentucky did not even make the tournament and they lost first round in a different tournament called the NIT tourney, which was terrible year for the Wildcats.
Kentucky played an enormous game this Saturday against another 2 seed in the tournament that is coming off another great win, the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are an extremely dangerous team with many scorers and are a fairly older team than Kentucky. An issue for Kentucky could have been experience. Also, it proved to be a chore to shut the Badgers down on defense because when Wisconsin is scoring they pile up the points quickly. In an extremely tight Final Four contest, Kentucky defeated Wisconsin in dramatic fashion. Down by two with 5.7 seconds left, Aaron Harrison received a pass from his twin brother, Andrew, and drained an NBA length three-pointer with a hand in his face. The miraculous shot gave Kentucky a 74-73 lead, and Wisconsin could not make the buzzer beater to come back. With a win in the Final Four game Kentucky advanced to the championship game against another surprising tournament team, seventh seed Connecticut. However, their youth may have played a role in their loss in the championship game because their inability to make free throws led to their ultimate demise. Congratulations to UConn for winning their fourth National Championship since 1999, and their first under head coach Kevin Ollie. If Kentucky can keep their young guys at school, then there is no doubt the experience they gained this year will help them make the same kind of run for a couple of years to come.