And just like that, it’s time for final thoughts from a fun season, and without question, the team with the most talent won the national title. But to John Calipari’s credit, you would have a hard time finding a team that played better together than Kentucky. I mean that in all phases of the game, as you had a senior come off the bench and never blink, you had a Player of the Year and future No. 1 pick wanting to block shots as much as he wanted to shoot them and you had a guy who maybe could have gone pro last year (Terrance Jones) come back to win a national title.
Great nugget I read is that Anthony Davis was the Associated Press Player of the Year. He will be the No. 1 pick. Guess how many others have done that in the past 40 years and won a national title? Exactly one. His name was Lew Alcindor in 1969. That is some great company. When I say he’s the best I’ve seen since Bill Walton, you have to remember I’m comparing him to Walton’s freshman year and everyone else, also. This guy is a game changer and a can’t-miss in the NBA. Even with the poor offensive shooting game Monday night, he was still the best player on the floor, dominating and controlling the paint on defense. He does so many things not in the stat sheet, like altering shots and forcing turnovers. Who was it that forced the travel when Kansas had a chance to cut it to three? Anthony Davis, of course. He is the new wave Tim Duncan.
As we look at next year it is amazing what a difference a season makes. Last year at this time some people were wondering if Tom Crean was the right man at Indiana. After a great regular season in which he was the only team to beat Kentucky from November through February, he took his team to the Sweet Sixteen. And let’s be honest they could have beaten any of the 14 other teams besides Kentucky that weekend, it was simply a case of a bad draw. But now a year later he could possibly have the No. 1 team in the nation when we tip in November. The lesson here? It is never as good or as bad as you think… and give your coaches some time!
A final thought, our recent national champions have been Kentucky, UCONN, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas. As much as we like to think college basketball is about teams like Villanova back in the 1980s, Butler coming close and VCU and George Mason making miracle runs, at the end of this season, the power schools are back. The best players are going to go to the schools that give them the chance to go to the NBA quickly and show their skills. Enjoy underdogs as much as you can because the team holding the trophy is usually someone that has done it before.
And remember… Lavin went from media to the NCAA Tournament in one year. Gottfried did it this year. So yes, athletic directors of America, I am ready to return!
- Bill Frieder
Former Michigan and Arizona State coach Bill Frieder in one of our analysts for NCAA basketball. He’ll be back with more blogs next year — if he’s not roaming the sidelines somewhere.