You can definitely say that the NCAA Division I March Madness college basketball championships has reached a new height in April when the last two teams standing are the two lowest seeds who ever played for a national championsip.
When I wrote this column I didn’t know who won the national title, but whoever did should be getting a ton of kudos for their season-ending conference tournament and March Madness playoff bracket-busting runs to reach the final.
The historical showdown featured tough, senior-led seventh-seeded University of Connecticut, under the direction of articulate second-year coach Kevin Ollie, facing young, talented, freshmen-led eighth-seeded University of Kentucky, guided by proven veteran – with five final-four appearances and one national-title – coach John Calipari.
Whether you like Calipari or not, the guy is a great coach, who continues to prove it year in and year out, and no doubt coaching from college to the pros and then back to college again has led to success – like Rick Pitino and the master Larry Brown – by getting high-pressure sculpturing and seasoning at hoops highest levels.
But what Calipari has achieved puts him into a rare class of top coaches at any level because of his communication and teaching skills, as well as a lot of patience for being able coach young men this far.
Sure he’s got a court full of McDonald prep All-Americans, but he’s stayed the course without a touch of senior, junior or even sophomore leadership.
Calipari’s doing it with a bunch of players who haven’t been out of high school even a year, so, really, give the man, and his players, their due for what they’ve accomplished, whether it turned out winning the national title or not.
Back in 1992, there was another group of freshman standouts who, under current San Diego State coach Steven Fisher, took Michigan to the national championship, where they got whipped by experienced Duke.
But the 1992 “Fab 5” with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juqwan Howard, didn’t play like the well-oiled and calm-under-pressure 2014 “Fab Frosh,” which shows how far the hoops culture and quality has come, with boys and girls starting and honing their careers in grammar and middle school.
Hoops continues to evolve at a fast rate like humanity itself.
Some quick notes:
Warriors and Sharks are playoff bound and could make some big postseason noise.
Baseball season has started and the San Francisco Giants can definitely hit, and with power, to mix with their strong pitching to make for another World Series run, where they might face the Oakland A’s, who continued to defy odds and field championship teams.