Another season of NCAA basketball is in the books. I pegged it right, but picked it wrong when I co-hosted the WestwoodOne pregame show on Monday night. Yes, I emphasized Villanova’s ugly shooting night, Michigan State settling for threes, and Florida coming up with their worst game of the season. But I didn’t give adequate attention to the one constant on display in those games: UCONN’s aggressive, locked down, in-your-face defense. Game after game, they delivered.
But like many others, I was wooed by the size, strength and length of Kentucky. How could the Huskies keep the big ‘Cats off the boards or match their put backs and points in the paint? Well, in the end, it was actually pretty easy as the Harrisons were no factor and Julius Randle was a non-entity.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright not only controlled the game defensively, but also made the big shots – none bigger than Napier’s long-range three after Kentucky got within one with a few minutes to go.
Congrats to head coach Kevin Ollie for a superb coaching job. Remember, these Huskies beat 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds on the way to a championship game win over a Kentucky team that might be the best #8 seed we’ve seen. You have to put UCONN in the conversation of one of the great programs as they have brought four titles back to Storrs in 15 years, a feat that no one else can match.
I’ll be back next week with a final blog with thoughts on the players staying in school, those putting their hat in the ring for the jump to the NBA and a look ahead to next year.
– Bill Frieder
Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for WestwoodOne’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.