John Calipari's philosophy of scouting one-and-dones has finally paid off, after the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the Men's National Championship. From the get-go it was all Big Blue Nation, as the Wildcats jumped to an early ten point lead minutes into the game.
Even on a night where Anthony Davis shot 10% from the field, Kentucky had no problem fending off one of the best teams in the country. Sophomore Doron Lamb led the team with 22 points on 58% shooting. Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones followed with 14, 11, and nine points respectively.
What made this Kentucky team so special was their distribution on offense. One night it could be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with 25 points, another night it could be Terrence Jones with 22 points, or it could be Anthony Davis with 20 points. A perfect box score for John Calipari would be to have all eight players in double figures, and not just one guy with 30 points.
It's crazy to think how much Anthony Davis can impact a game on both ends of the court. He knows he is having a bad night offensively, so he boosts his defensive game even higher, and focuses more on getting his teammates the ball. Not only did he lead the team in blocks and rebounds last night, but he also led them in assists, with five!
As for Kansas, Kentucky's uptempo style was too much for them to handle. Right from the beginning, an Anthony Davis rebound would lead to a fastbreak bucket or an in transition basket for the Wildcats.
The Jayhawks played their best basketball this season when they were ahead, but unfortunately, they never got that opportunity last night. Kansas' defense usually propelled them to first half leads, but last night, they trailed from the opening possession. This put the Jayhawks in an uncomfortable position because they had to keep up with Kentucky's explosive offense.
Kansas made a run late in the game to cut the lead to six, but Kentucky just couldn't be stopped on offense. Kansas' offensive production wasn't helping either They shot 33% from the field, as Robinson and Taylor combined for a 14-34 effort. The clutch factor just was not in Kansas' favor.
This game did not mean more to anyone other than Coach Cal. After losing to Self and the Jayhawks just four years ago, he was able to get revenge, but this time with a new team. Although Coach Cal is one of the most prolific coaches in the game today, he had actually never won a championship before, even with stars like Marcus Camby, Derrick Rose, and John Wall on the court.
With speculation that Coach Cal might become the new coach of the New York Knicks, he downplayed the situation by saying he wasn't done with college basketball. According to Coach himself, he has a lot left to achieve. "Before I leave coaching, I would like to coach an undefeated team," Calipari told ESPN's Andy Katz. He followed that up by saying that he'd then like to go undefeated and win every game by 25 points.
High expectations, but if anyone could do it, it's Calipari.
As for Kansas and Kentucky, the two perennial universities will likely have different players suiting up next season. For Kentucky, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones, Lamb, Teague, all might enter the draft, in addition to Darius Miller who is a senior. For Kansas, it's likely that Robinson and Taylor will depart for the NBA Draft.
The Kentucky win could encourage top recruits Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel to finally make their decisions. Muhammad is stuck between Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA while Noel is pondering between Kentucky, Syracuse, and Georgetown. The two could become the next best tagteam in college basketball.
In the end though, this Kentucky team could go down in the books as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time. Their unselfishness and willingness to make everyone else better really transformed them from a young, inexperienced team, to a team that ended up cutting down the nets in New Orleans.