It’s been a long time coming, but the Wildcats of Kentucky have quenched their thirst for a title. John Calipari in just his third year wins his first NCAA Championship 67-59 over the Kansas Jayhawks before 70,000 in New Orleans. Man, can Calipari recruit: Previously at Memphis he recruited NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who after leading Memphis to the NCAA Championship game was drafted number one in the NBA by the Chicago Bulls.
Kentucky finished 38-2, losing to only Indiana and Vanderbilt during the season as they navigated the NCAA field of 72 teams to stand alone number one. It’s the eighth time that Kentucky has won the NCAA Men’s crown, their first since 1998 when Gophers coach Tubby Smith won it last in the Bluegrass State.
Kentucky has the talented shot-blocking machine College Player of the Year, the man from Chicago, freshman center Anthony Davis.
Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight compares Davis’ shot-blocking skills to Boston Celtic legend Bill Russell. Davis blocked six shots and grabbed 16 rebounds Monday night. He was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament. Calipari got a taste of revenge in winning the title versus Kansas and coach Bill Self. Kansas beat his Memphis team with Derrick Rose four years ago in the championship game.
Twice previously, Calipari has taken Massachusetts and Memphis to the NCAA Final Four only to leave the program and the schools to be placed on NCAA probation for violations of NCAA rules. School is still out on this Kentucky team, as has been the case where there is smoke there is fire. Kentucky reached the championship game by beating their cross-state rival the hated Louisville Cardinals 69-61 in the National Semifinal game.
Fitz Notes & Quotes
This is Masters week, the first Major Golf Championship on the PGA Tour at famed Augusta National in Georgia. So far this year, 14 PGA tournaments and American players have won 11 times and European players have won three times. Tiger Woods is number six in the world, a four-time Masters champion, and is playing like the Tiger of old after going over two and a half years winless. Hunter Mahan goes into the Masters as one of the favorites, the number-four ranked player in the world and the only two-winner this year on tour.
Kevin Garnett vs. Kevin Love!
You could not find a ticket last week in Minneapolis when the Boston Celtics visited the Timberwolves. It was billed as “Kevin I vs. Kevin II!” The return of former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett versus Kevin Love, the Timberwolves All-Star. Love in just his third season has been outstanding, averaging 26.6 points per game and 14 rebounds. Garnett — the greatest Timberwolves player of all time — played 12 years here, was MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the year.
Garnett and the Celtics spanked the Timberwolves 100-79. Garnett held Love to 22 points and 11 rebounds on just 5-18 shooting. Garnett was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Garnett said, “Kevin Love is really good; he’s very solid, very offensive minded. We’ve been watching him keeping track of what he’s been doing, and if you know anything about me you knew I would be prepared tonight.”
Boston Coach Doc Rivers on the Kevin vs. Kevin match-up: “I don’t like the comparisons because we should celebrate them both, because they are both terrific players. Kevin Love [and] Al Jefferson was too. Kevin Garnett is the best to ever play here. When you compare the two, you have to knock one of them. We should celebrate both players: Garnett and Love. Kevin Love has a chance to be the best or one of the best to ever play here.”
Former DeLaSalle High School star Alan Anderson, who has had a successful career playing in Barcelona professionally, has signed an NBA contract with the Toronto Raptors
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.