It has been a long time, but the drought is over. We have wandered in the desert long enough. The Unforgettable Fire is burning brighter than ever, and the Wildcats are back in the Final Four. Order has been restored to the Universe.
Here are today's links:
Politi: Calipari says any banner this Kentucky team may hang is never coming down :: NJ.com
Damnation by faint praise.
- A few more thoughts on today’s Cal column :: Eric Crawford
- NCAA Tournament: John Calipari does his best coaching job with young Kentucky headed to Final Four
One year to the day after a Kentucky team that was supposed to get to the Final Four was upset in the East Regional final, the fourth-seeded Wildcats pulled the surprise this time and topped second-seeded North Carolina 76-69 Sunday to make the national semfinals for the first time in 13 years.
Kentucky spent 13 consecutive springs watching other schools play in the Final Four, a destination college basketball's winningest program considers its birthright.
At most places, that's hardly a drought.
In the Bluegrass, it's a lifetime.
- Heels fall to Wildcats :: JournalNow.com
- A tough Knight for the Tar Heels :: JournalNow.com
This, really, is the perfect amalgamation of what Kentuckians love -- a team with a boatload of talent and even more, to borrow a Bill Raftery phrase, onions.
Dana O'Neil is always a must-read.
- Final Four Thoughts and Notes
- Second Weekend Recap :: Beyond the Arc
- Calipari, Wildcats topple Tar Heels to punch ticket - The Boston Globe
Many fans brought signs to support the team, with one reading, "Oh holy Knight, our Jorts are brightly shining!" It referenced point guard Brandon Knight and center Josh Harrellson, who earned the nickname "Jorts" because of his taste for wearing jean shorts.
- Video: Kentucky's Brandon Knight - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
"That shot Brandon hit, I still picture it in my mind," Zeller said. "I think Dexter (Strickland) was guarding him, had a hand in his face. It was a very tough shot and he knocked it down. Dex did a great job all night shadowing him, chasing him around. And I mean, he still made shots."
How many times have we been on the receiving end of shots like that? Very many. It feels really good to be giving them out.
- Virginia Commonwealth, Butler Lead Improbable NCAA Final Four - Bloomberg
- Final Four times set: UK-UConn scheduled for 8:49 p.m. tip
- John Calipari vs. Jim Calhoun one more time :: John Clay’s Sidelines
- Nothing but blue skies for Calipari - The Boston Globe
- Get ready for the Final Four with these storylines :: Beyond the Arc
Calipari kicked off that three-hour meeting in a Chicago hotel room by telling Dr. Todd: "It’s Notre Dame football and Kentucky basketball and I want to be at Kentucky. I want the job and I want you to ask me anything you want to ask me in order to help me get this job."
Barnhart and Sandra Bell of the Kentucky compliance office had already vetted with the SEC and NCAA a series of questions for Dr. Todd to ask. The NCAA had come back and said they didn’t find anything irregular, Dr. Todd said.
Those who think Kentucky didn't do their homework when they hired Calipari, here is a little back story that provides proof they did.
John Calipari's masterful job has Kentucky back in Final Four - College Basketball News | FOX Sports on MSN
Okay, this has got to be the first time "Calipari" and "brilliance" have been used together in a sentence to describe his coaching. But I'll bet it won't be the last.
- Rush The Court :: Morning Five: 03.28.11 Edition
Kentucky fans waited 13 years for a return to the Final Four. That thousands of them flocked to the Lexington, Ky., airport to greet is exactly what I’d expect. In fact, I’m a little surprised it was only 2,500 people. Then again, they were waiting for about three hours.
Not only that, they were waiting in the wee hours. People do have to work in Kentucky too, you know.
Cuonzo Martin Hired by Tennessee : EveryJoe - Sports and Entertainment News
I don't know beans about this guy. I've heard some good things, but I expect UT fans are underwhelmed by this hire.
- Once an outsider, DeAndre Liggins has Kentucky headed back to the Final Four - The Washington Post
Spectacular being a relative term, of course. The NCAA ruled Calipari's Turkish recruit, Enes Kanter, permanently ineligible, and the smart money says the posse will keep chasing Coach Cal with the same passion and purpose his players showed in their 76-69 victory over North Carolina, a team of towering oaks that couldn't unnerve Kentucky's three-point shooters, most notably a freshman named Brandon Knight.
Sigh. Just embrace the hate. It never seems to end. Guys who dislike Cal just cannot praise him without damning him to death first. Hat tip: Aaron's blog.
Since then Calipari is 2-1 against Calhoun (winning once with Memphis and once with UK), but it was the Huskies who dominated in November at the Maui Classic, winning 84-67.
"It was  going on 50," Calipari said. "I was outcoached badly and I told Jim Calhoun after, ‘You did a fabulous job.’ Their game plan, how he coached the game, the timeouts he called – they never lost control of the game. I was the JV coach."
Let's hope he does better in the rematch. Via Aaron's blog.
- Kentucky 76, UNC 69 - Carolina March
- Edelson Column: Brandon Knight gives Kentucky a chance :: The Asbury Park Press | APP.com
- Kentucky Sports Radio :: BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Just How Improbable Is This??
The do-gooders won't like this. Not at all. Sanctimonious hoops heads everywhere are no doubt scrambling for the holy water and the wooden stakes and whatever else might help them slay what they perceive as an awful evil that's been visited upon college basketball and the Final Four - again.
Heh. Interesting. All I can say is this -- Calipari haters can kiss my hindparts. If we somehow win the championship, they'll be relegated to complaining about his mythical recruiting violations, but they'll have to shut up about two things: His ability to coach, and the theory that you can't win the big one with a team dominated by freshmen.
If Kentucky falls short, they'll at least have the second to fall back on ... for maybe one more year.
"We got Kentucky back," the senior center Josh Harrellson said. "And a lot of people doubted us. A lot of people really didn’t think we’d be the team we are. We really pulled it together as a team, and we’re back now."
Yes, Josh, you did. And we will never forget.
- UNC guard Dexter Strickland’s heroic effort not enough on Kentucky's Brandon Knight :: NJ.com
"The way he [DeAndre Liggins] plays with the passion, with the intensity, how hard he plays, how hard he works, that is a skill," the UK coach said. "Not every player could do it or every player would do it. Not every player can do it. Every coach at every level is looking for players like him."
Darius Miller, all 6 feet, 7 inches of him, was underneath the North Carolina basket. Despite 6-10 John Henson and 7-foot Tyler Zeller being in the vicinity, Miller grabbed Terrence Jones’ missed three-pointer, put it in and was fouled by Henson for a three-point play.
That was a man's rebound and finish. That was a huge play.
- American Chronicle :: OPINION: Blue-collar 'Jorts' a hero for Cats fans
- Unthinkable foursome heading to Houston for NCAA Final Four :: syracuse.com
The best game that any offense has had against UK's postseason D belongs to Princeton, which racked up 57 points in 54 possessions. Know what? That's not very good. All teams that reach the Final Four give the appearance of getting better the longer they play, of course, but in Kentucky's case the appearance may be grounded in those pushy little weenies called facts.
Classic John Gasaway. Read the whole thing.
- Buzz on Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats are in the Final Four Edition
Did Kansas provide the biggest choke job this tournament? :: Beyond the Arc
Beyond question, although Florida did a decent imitation.
- Anything but Gatorade: I CAN'T BELIEVE KENTUCKY IS GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR
"I kissed him on the forehead is what I did," Calipari said. "He didn't kiss me back I can tell you that."
"We still had a game to play. The game wasn't over. I love him as a coach. He defined my game greatly. He made me the player I am now and I respect him and I love him to death," Liggins said.