It was one of the strangest and most glorious nights in the history of University of Kentucky basketball.
Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats won his first –and UK’s eighth – national championship by playing a near-perfect first half and then having to hang on to an ever-shortening lead in the second half for a 67-59 victory over Kansas Monday. That got the monkey off the coach’s back before a crowd of 70,913 in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans. It was the third biggest crowd in Final Four history.
Oddly, UK’s victory came at the expense of coach Adolph Rupp’s school. The late Rupp, who coached the Wildcats’ first four NCAA national crowns, played at Kansas.
Now for the strange part: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, the most talented and highest rated player in collegiate basketball did not score even one point in the first half! And the big man scored just six in the second half, but in other categories he was his usual superlative self. He had 16 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Doran Lamb scored 22 points and Marquis Teague finished with 14.
Why all the lights?
Because of TV’s demands the game started late and wasn’t over until just about midnight.
Concerned airline pilots have been known to ask control towers why there were so many homes with lights on at that hour. The pilots were told to relax, that it was just the Cats doing their thing.
Calipari proved once and for all that he can coach. Admittedly he had a much better group of ones-and-dones this season than when Cousins and Co. were in Lexington. At last count Calipari is one great recruit away from another possible championship next season.
Members of this year’s team got along with each other and with Calipari.
Riley seeking Cal?
One report that may make UK fans squirm: Former UK star Pat Riley, who now runs the Miami Heat of LeBron James and Co., supposedly is interested in Calipari as a coach. He should have a little pow-wow with UofL’s Rick Pitino about trying to coach in the NBA.
Speaking of Pitino, The Associated Press reported that he was among Naismith Hall of Fame finalists who were passed over by the committee. ESPN’s Dick Vitale has repeatedly lambasted Hall of Fame voters for not opening the Hall of Fame gates to Pitino.
Real Top Coach
Now that the end of college basketball has arrived, here’s a trick question for you: Who is the best coach in Kentucky?
John Calipari of national champion UK? No, but close.
Rick Pitino? Another good one, but no again.
Scott Davenport? Same answer.
The answer is Greg Moore of Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville. He coached Yue Zhang, first-place winner in the State Mathcounts Competition at the Galt House Saturday.
The program is designed to develop and strengthen math, science, leadership and teamwork skills in middle schools.
Kathleen Yang of Lexington’s Winburn was runnerup. Noe Middle’s Shravan Ravishankar was third and Yuhan Long of Myzeek was fourth.
The top four finishers were awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships to either UK or UofL.
Moore, who teaches at Myzeek, will coach the Kentucky team in the national competition at Raytheon Mathcounts National Competition in Orlando, Fla., May 11, where they will represent Kentucky for the national title.