Thanks to Kentucky and most of all UConn for putting on a tremendous finale to one of the best tournaments ever. UConn was the better team. Not by much, but they were better.
It wasn't a perfect game by any stretch, but that was part of the charm.
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The strangest thing was watching Shabazz Napier shove and yell at backcourt mate Ryan Boatright: the first time he pushed him in his chest and Boatright seemed shocked. The second time both guards went after an out-of-bounds and came down with no one to pass to.
UConn made more mistakes than they have all March and April, but the 'Cats couldn't capitalize for several reasons: 1)UConn's D was superb, 2) Kentucky was a bit tight and missing Willie Cauley-Stein and 3) free throws.
UConn shot 100% (10-10) to Kentucky's thoroughly pedestrian 54.2% (13-24). Shoot, UConn even outrebounded Kentucky 34-33. For John Calipari, it was bound to bring back painful memories of Memphis clanking free throws in the title game.
But whenever Kentucky pushed back, UConn pulled away. There were no heroics this time; when Aaron Harrison tried a critical late three, he missed.
About the only letdown in the game was when Napier went Kanye from the podium and essentially taunted the NCAA for suspending UConn from post-season play last year. It was the only discordant note in an otherwise brilliant performance.
After the game, you couldn't help feeling that it was the end of something. Between the unionization ruling and the undercurrent of unrest from the power conferences, college sports are never going to be the same again, and it's not at all clear where things are going.
If that's the end of what we've known, then what a way to go out.
The comparisons between this Kentucky team and Michigan's Fab Five are probably overdone but Kentucky '14 is infinitely more admirable. The Wildcats had poise, composure, resilience and more class than we had ever dreamed of.
And if the teams somehow went head to head? We'd take Kentucky.
Being Kentucky, Calipari began discussing the NBA decision right after the game. But check out Willie Cauley-Stein's comments on the subject:
"I still have something to prove and I still have so much to work on in my game.I went up from last year. Now, I want to take another step."
"You know, I love the school. I love being at Kentucky. I love the fan base. I love the community. I love the people there. Why not stay until they make you leave?"