And the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, along with coach John Calipari, bring to Lexington the hardware that matters most! If winning titles isn't nirvana, then I may need to call a doctor.
Congratulations to the Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks as both teams played with great effort, and sportsmanship. Kansas, behind the coaching of Bill Self and the tremendous play of All-America Thomas Robinson, was simply an outstanding basketball team in 2012, a year many thought would be a re-loading season in Lawrence.
But, this was Kentucky's year, about that there can be no debate: 16-0 in the SEC, 24-game winning streak, ranked No. 1 for most of the year, and a school record 38 wins. There can also no longer be the doubters (well, they can "be," but no one will pay attention). Doubters who said "you can't win a championship with a freshman dominated team." Say what?!? ... is exactly what the 'Cats said Monday night, as they came away with Kentucky's eighth NCAA National Championship in a 67-59 championship win.
I'll give a quick rundown of each players' performance, without much commentary, as now is a time to celebrate, not attempt to be clever or poetic. The 'Cats were plenty poetic in their victory.
Final Four Most Outstanding Player Anthony Davis, proved without any shadow of a doubt, he need not score to be a game-changer. Although scoring only six points (1-10 field goals), Davis blocked a game-high six shots (which ties a championship game record), handed out a game-high five assists, and grabbed a 16 boards (four offensive). And with :24 left and UK up 65-59, his athleticism and length forced KU's Elijah Johnson to travel, as he went up with the ball with the intention of shooting a 3-pointer, but with Davis coming out of nowhere, arriving in Johnson's grill with great speed, Johnson came down with the ball, turning the ball over to the 'Cats.
Doron Lamb was magnificent, as he stroked 3-of-6 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 22 points. Lamb's outside accuracy went a long way in freeing up UK's inside attack, one of the differences in the game. Lamb also handled the point guard duties for stretches, and committed only one turnover, while playing some of the best defense he's ever played.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored all 11 of his points in the first half, as MKG did what MKG does: drive the ball to the rim. He added six rebounds and one block to his stat line. And in one of the more athletic moves one is likely to see on a basketball court, after KU point guard Tyshawn Taylor went back door on the baseline for a seemingly easy two points, MKG, displaying great quickness, recovered, and from underneath the basket blocked the layup at the rim.
Marquis Teague added 14 points and three assists to the Wildcat cause, and hit a big 3-pointer in the first half, then a second half killer trey, giving UK a 62-52 lead with 2:50 left. Teague also made 2-of-3 free throws inside the final minute, helping to seal the UK win.
Terrence Jones, while only scoring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, defended and rebounded like a machine, as he recorded seven boards, two blocks and a steal, and hounding Robinson into a 6-of-17 shooting night.
Senior Darius Miller was quiet on the offensive end for much of the game, as he was smartly covered by KU defenders all night. Miller did, though, connect on a trifecta with 3:42 left in the first half, giving UK a 37-21 lead, and he hit the boards. He finished the game with two blocks, and six, count 'em, six rebounds (tied for the most rebounds he's had all year), to go along with five points.
Kyle Wiltjer and Eloy Vargas both played three minutes and provided the Cats with solid, if not spectacular play.
Enjoy the moment, Wildcat fans, one never knows when this feeling will again pass our way.
Thanks for reading and Way to Go 'Cats!