Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Won and Done"

Congratulations to the UCONN Men's Basketball team for last night clinching the NCAA National Championship in a 53-41 hard fought defensive victory over the Butler Bulldogs. The UCONN Huskies didn't win "pretty" and a lot of people are complaining about the "style" of win as this game was a "grinder" with Connecticut only scoring 19 points in the first half and trailing Butler at halftime 22-19. Last night the maxim "Defense wins Championships" was in effect as this young UCONN team held Butler to an 18.8% field goal percentage which is a record low scoring percentage with 10 blocked shots by the Huskies who outscored Butler 26-2 "in the paint". For people who appreciate defense, this game was surely a masterpiece of "lock down aggressive full effort" that will be studied by basketball purists for years to come. This team defense to me rivals the "1990 Dream Season" at UCONN which featured a full court pressure"helter skelter steal curtain" defense and fast break basketball.  UConn contested almost every shot by Butler with the exception of a few long 3 point Butler field goals. Butler themselves played a good defensive game and the combination of good defense by both teams, "tight rims", playing in "the dome" on an elevated floor probably as well contributed to a low scoring percentage by both teams.

UCONN won because they scored more points than Butler; and isn't that why they keep score? With the exception of the "Slam dunk" contests where style and creativity are judged; the winning team always scores more points by "Putting the ball through the hole" with no extra points being granted for spectacular slam dunks or "pretty and smooth" long distance jump shots. Only in sports such as ice skating and gymnastics do "style points" count when they judge contestants from a "perfect 10" and deduct for efforts that don't meet with perfection.

The Connecticut Huskies "out willed" Butler in this National Championship and Butler hurt their cause by missing quite a few free throws as well as their record low shooting percentage. This year UCONN, lead by All American Kemba Walker, with a young supporting cast of freshmen Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, Tyler Olander, Niels Giffey, sophomores Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, and seniors Donnell Beverly and Charles Okwandu came together as a team and accomplished their ultimate goal. With a record of 32-9 this season, UCONN did not lose to any team outside of the Big East Conference where they finished 9-9 but won the Big East Tournament Championship by winning 5 games in 5 days at Madison Square Garden in New York City earlier in March. UCONN started the season last November by winning the Maui Classic in Hawaii and of course ended the season by winning the National Championship. In every tournament with a "one and done" format with a trophy at stake for the winning team, the Huskies prevailed. Now that this basketball season has ended  this Connecticut Men's basketball team can truly say that they gave their maximum effort with some "pretty" wins along the way, some clutch game ending shots by Kemba Walker, some "win and advance grinder games", but all in all they accomplished their team goals and brought home a 3rd National Championship as they "won and done" a good job so to speak. This memorable season will be hard to top.