By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
The team from Storrs close out season with magical run
They went from impossible to improbable to flat out impressive. The University of Connecticut, the Huskies won their 4th Men’s NCAA Championship in 16 years behind the stellar leadership of second year coach Kevin Ollie and senior point guard Shabazz Napier. They did so by defeated the McDonald’s All-American squad, Kentucky Wildcats, 60-54.
UConn is the only team to be able to have both the men and women win the NCAA Championship in the same year ended at 10 years ago in 2004 with Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor and that crew. They did the same thing this year with the women then undefeated Notre Dame, 79-58. The Lady Huskies finished their season with a 40-0 record.
What was so special about this year’s team is that Coach Kevin Ollie was able to make something special out of Napier. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he probably earned him a few extra legitimate NBA dollars also. Napier had somewhat of a Kemba Walker run through the NCAA Tournament. Of course it didn’t hurt that Napier played with Walker and won his first Championship as a freshman on that squad.
Looks like it could also be that Napier is passing along the UConn splendid guard play to his counterpart, Ryan Boatright. That’s if he doesn’t decide to forgo his senior year and enter into the NBA Draft.
UConn shows that anything can happen when a team plays together. It doesn’t hurt that having great guard play is the great equalizer to all the glitz and glamour of All-Americans with very little championship experience.
Ollie becomes only the 4th African American head coach to win an NCAA Division 1 Championship. He follows behind trailblazer, John Thompson who did it 30 years ago. That was followed by the recently selected Hall-of-Famer Nolan Richardson who won it with Corliss Williamson and Todd Day and that group in 1994 and of course Tubby Smith who won it for the Kentucky Wildcats in 1988.
Ollie who played with more NBA teams then Phil Jackson has rings is hailed as a terrific person by all who come in contact with him. He’s showing truly that nice guys can finish first after all.
The championship parade for both teams is Sunday in Storrs.
Jerald L. Hoover