Party Night for Kentucky
By Alex Wallner – Sports Editor
It was a season to remember in college basketball as teams battled out the entire year for the ultimate prize, the national championship. A historic year it was in college basketball, in which we had fifteen seeds beating two seeds and one seeds on the brink of elimination in the first round by sixteen seeds, but all in all the team that began the year number one ended the year number one. The Kentucky Wildcats had a marvelous season going 38-2 and completing an undefeated SEC slate at 16-0. The Wildcats only losses coming at the hands of the Indiana Hoosiers on December 10th, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana, 73-72 off a Christian Watford buzzer-beater three to ‘ice’ the game and in the SEC tournament championship game to the Vanderbilt Commodores, 71-64, a game where the ‘Cats came out flat from the tip.
These two losses did not phase the ‘Cats one bit, as they put on a dominating performance throughout the entire NCAA tournament and came out on top at the end against a very strong and talented Kansas Jayhawks team. The Jayhawks who also had a tremendous season going 32-7 and 16-2 in a very strong Big 12 conference and also looked very impressive during the NCAA tournament along All-American, Thomas Robinson and proved they were one of the nation’s best even when they were not predicted to make it to the Elite Eight, not predicted to win the Big 12 conference and not predicted to have 30 wins and proved everyone wrong, through tremendous play on the basketball court.
April 2nd, 2012, was a great game as the ‘Cats took down the Jayhawks 67-59 in New Orleans to win their eighth national championship and their first since the 1997-98 season. The game was fast-paced, intense and included many future NBA players as well (most from the Kentucky side). The game was led by Kentucky’s outstanding freshman class; Doron Lamb, who scored 22 points, Marquis Teague, 14 points, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, 11 points and 6 rebounds and Anthony Davis, who only had 6 points, but grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked 6 shots to make up for a poor scoring night. When asked of the game and Kentucky’s victory, Coach Coleco Buie said, “Kentucky was too strong for Kansas, they had the most talent in the tourney. I felt like the better team won.” Senior, Taylen Alexander remarked, “I knew the University of Kentucky had the edge over the University of Kansas. Kentucky had much more speed and skill than Kansas which showed in the outcome of the game. I thought Anthony Davis was the x-factor. He not only rebounded, but he blocked shots and stopped Jeff Withey.” Senior, Jansin Garth replied, “I thought it was a great game, very entertaining and a good representation of college basketball. I felt Kentucky deserved to win, but Kansas could of won if they finished more lay ups and dunks.” Senior, Raheem Beauford said, “If the guards had a better first half I believe it would’ve been a different outcome. Kentucky is young, it’s a great achievement.” Junior, Jeff Lavin would also respond, “It ended up being a real good game. It started off slow with Kansas getting killed. They turned it around to make the end very interesting. I would have rather had Kansas win because Calipari is the king of cheating in the college game.” Many different opinions towards the game, but it was a game filled with highlights none the less.
One player always stands out the most in every game. For Kentucky that player was Anthony Davis (SEC Player of the Year, Naismith Player of the Year, All-American, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.). Davis is someone whose presence concerns other teams, because of how good he is. Davis who averaged 32 points, 22 rebounds and 7 blocks at Perspective Charter High School in Chicago continued the trend to the college level as he earned a scholarship to Kentucky after earning co-MVP at the 2011 McDonald’s All-American game and showed the nation how talented this man is.
Repeating in anything is a tough task to accomplish because everyone is after you. Kentucky has this now on them, as they are looked on as the hunted instead of the hunters and will find it hard to achieve next year as they will possibly lose half of their freshmen class to the NBA, including the mentioned Davis, most to the first round. “I’m not sure if they will, because they have five players turning pro.” Coach Buie answered after being asked of Kentucky’s chances of repeating. Alexander said, “No, because they’re losing almost all of their starters including player of the year / #1 pick in the NBA Draft, Anthony Davis. I feel if Coach Cal can make them play defense they will make an Elite Eight run.” Garth said, “With Kentucky’s recruiting style, I find it very hard to repeat with the new freshmen they have to develop and adopt into their system.” Beauford responded, “Kentucky will not repeat, they will be the main target next year.” Lavin said, “Kentucky will not repeat everybody is leaving. Watch out for UCLA to win it next year.” Kentucky will be the team to beat next year, it will be hard for anyone to beat a team that will be loaded with even more talent though next year.