Saturday, April 2, 2011

UConn's Destiny Doesn't Include Duke This Year

1990, 1999 and 2004.  Maybe it just seems like the UConn Huskies have to play Duke in the NCAA Tourney every year.  Sometimes they lost (Screw you, Alaa Abdelnaby!).  And sometimes they won.  (Beating Duke in the Championship Game in 1999 and in the National Semifinal in 2004).  After Duke was beaten handily by Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen, though, we had to find another team to root against.  Enter John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.  Can Kemba and "Silence of the Lamb" reach Monday's final game against the most corrupt college coach in history (I slowly move away from the glass structures in my house lest rocks get thrown)?

Calipari has always been a mosquito on Jim Calhoun's hide.  Ever since Calhoun decided to end the annual match up with UMass after Calipari's first year there, followed soon after by Calipari's desperate, and illegal, pursuit of Hartford's own Marcus Camby, these two guys just can't get along.  Calhoun likes to take potshots at anybody and everybody and Calipari is an easy target.  If I can get the boys to agree to watch the Final Four instead of the 2011 Red Sox, we'll see how this game turns out.  Butler-VCU is NOT a good lead in, I'll you that much.

9pm.  Basement Bar. I'm still rubbing my eyes from that Shephard Fairy-inspired photograph of Kemba Walker.  Way too much time went into that piece of art. And we all laugh as Alex Oriakhi does some sort of Dougie dance.  Good start to the game.

Calipari is trying to become the first coach to have three Final Four appearances vacated because of recruiting violations.  Good luck, John.

"Dad, can you change it back to baseball?"   C asks me - not a good start.

"xzxzxzxzzxxzzxx"  The sound of my ignoring him.  I already tried the "Sorry, I can't hear you." trick but he's sitting right next to me. 

"Start the game already!  It's been 40 minutes!" G tells the TV, clearly more interested than his brother.  Everyone is getting antsy.  Finally the game starts.  Mansfield's own Tyler Olander immediately scores with the Huskies' first basket.  Get him out of there now!

As the boys notice that I am writing this journal, my older son starts giving me writing advice - comma here, comma there.  Why don't you stop reading this, kiddo!  When they read the word "punk" they both get worked up.  I wish they would just go to bed at this point.  Back to the game as Kemba Walker hits his first 3-pointer with ten minutes left in the First Half.

Out of the last TV timeout, Walker and Jeremy Lamb execute a beautiful cut play leading to a ten point lead with three minutes left.  UConn holds on to this 10 point lead at halftime.  31-21.  Two of us are getting mighty sleepy...

Second half and the boys have gone to bed.  Good thing since they are thus spared of the cursing and head shaking caused by Kentucky's two three pointers to start the half immediately cutting the lead to four.  And as Kentucky catches up and takes the lead, I' seriously considering getting the kids back up.  I have to work tomorrow so if they're zombies for Mom tomorrow?  So be it.

Now with 12 minutes left in the game, Walker twists his ankle running after a loose ball.  Crap!  He stays in, but clearly looks hobbled as he walks the ball up the court.  Which is too bad since Kentucky looks too tired to run with me, much less UConn.

Two minutes left and UConn is barely hanging on.  In fact a friend texts me "Did not like that last minute."  This game is WAY too close.  Particularly when two of your best three players are freshmen.  And, as soon as I write that, Napier turns the ball over with 18 seconds left as he dribbles the ball off a Wildcat foot.  More cursing ensues.  Kentucky ball with just seconds to play.  Calipari calls timeout to consider his legacy.

Out of the timeout, Kentucky looks confused as they are just dribbling the ball around.  With no go-to shooter, and clearly no play called, Kentucky throws up an ill advised three pointer when a two will do.  After the inevitable miss, Kentucky fouls Napier with 1.7 seconds left.  Just make these free throws...YES UConn wins 56-55!  Cut the nets!

And see you on Monday.

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