Tuesday, April 08, 2014

4/8 UConn Dynasty Quickie

*Decent argument to be made that UConn's 4 titles in the past 15 years makes them a quasi-dynasty.

*Even better argument to be made that Shabazz Napier belongs in the top tier of all-time college hoops players, because of three very important qualifiers:

(1) He played a meaningful role on TWO national-title teams (putting him in the rare air of Hurley-Laettner-Hill and Noah-Horford-Brewer).

(2) In the second one, he wore the "carry-the-load superstar champ" role of Carmelo, Kemba, Danny Manning, Glen Rice and Anthony Davis.

(3) This one was most interesting to me: He joined an extremely exclusive fraternity of players who played meaningful roles on two NON-CONSECUTIVE national-title teams.

The sport is defined by its championship tournament, individual brilliance within that tournament and the exclusivity of winning multiple titles.

Because of that, I'd argue that Napier ends his career in the top tier of all-time ("all-time" meaning: 64-team era since 1985) talents:

The 10 I'd pick: Manning, Larry Johnson, Laettner, Hurley, Hill, Carmelo, Noah, Davis, Napier, with one spot open for your particular favorite snubbee.

*Looking ahead to next year: By far the most intriguing team is SMU, snubbed by the Tournament committee, but whose two wins over UConn sure do look good this morning.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 07, 2014

4/7 One Shining Moment Quickie

*John Calipari wins, regardless of whether or not Kentucky wins the national title tonight. The mere fact his squad has made it this far (even with preseason No. 1 expectations) is affirmation enough.

*I remain bludgeoned by Florida's loss to UConn: I was "title or bust" for this squad; wow, I will miss these seniors; the game wasn't even close.

*It's an open question whether you'd rather have "thoroughly beaten" or, like Wisconsin, "you coulda/shoulda/woulda won." I guess the latter would be harder to take.

*It's one thing for UK's frosh to come in and go "one-and-title" -- that's amazing. It's another for UConn's seniors to get the rare TWO titles over four years. Napier & Co. join an exclusive group.

In the past 20 years: '92 Duke players on '91 team (Hurley, Laettner, G Hill, T Hill, B Davis, Antonio Lang), two players on '98 Kentucky's team who were also on '96 team (Jeff Sheppard and Allen Edwards), '07 Florida on '06 team (Noah, Horford, Brewer, Humphrey, Green, Richard, Hodge, various bench-warmers).

Kentucky has three bench-warmers who were on the 2012 title-team roster: Long, Malone, Polson.

*I am genuinely baffled over who to pick to win. Both teams are on such a roll. UConn gets the edge defensively; UK gets the edge inside. It's honestly hard to fathom one of these teams will be "national champ."

-- D.S.