One Flew Over the Jayhawks’ Nest
John Calipari is trying to change the world of college basketball (see article “The Man Who Won Woo Much” from March 30th) and now only one team stands in his way. The team most counter-opposite Kentucky has sees no player younger than a junior see significant floor time. If John Calipari could have pointed a finger at one team he didn’t want to see come April 2nd, it probably would have been talented loaded North Carolina. Calipari probably wished back on March 11th that the Tar Heels would not make it to the Championship Game to play his Wildcats. Well, the oldest cliché in history goes “be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it”.
The University of Kentucky has been on cruise control for the NCAA tournament. The #1 overall seed has been patiently waiting for someone, anyone!, to step forward and challenge them in a little game of hoops. Anthony Davis’s unibrow has been engulfing its adversaries like a selfish father after his kids went out Trick or Treating. Davis has been far and away the best player in this tournament. The only stumble was in the second half against Baylor while nursing a sore knee when Perry Jones III decided to play up to his potential lottery draft status and absolutely punished Davis in the paint (Jones drew 3 fouls on Davis in five possessions and scored 6 points). Aside from that, Anthony Davis has been looked like his bottom row of teeth: scary. I really should stop commenting on how ugly the guy is, but I mean c’mon! Anyway, Davis has been unbelievably good is the point I’ve been driving at here, but he’s about to take on a horse of a different color. Davis thrives when people challenge him inside and he swats more shots than a low level McDonald’s employee does flies. This mystery team which I am yet to mention by name up to this point has something Davis hasn’t seen since a 1-point win against North Carolina: two forces in the post. Kansas will be the team playing Monday night in New Orleans to try and ruin everything Kentucky has dreamed of since hiring Billy Gillespie and has craved since firing Billy Gillespie. As I stated earlier, Kentucky probably dreaded a rematch against a UNC team which featured as much (if not more) talent than the Wildcats. However, Kansas may end up being the toughest match-up Kentucky could have had with Kendall Marshall fracturing his wrist like a nerd against Creighton, denying college basketball fans the first look at the mini-NBA version of college basketball. Instead, Kentucky will play a team that is so unlike them it is crazy. Kentucky is built upon youngsters, hardly even shaving at this point, who are pissed they even have to play college basketball instead of hitting the pros straight out of high school. Kansas is built upon grizzled veterans who have waited their turn to make the hallowed run to the championship game. Something should be ringing a bell here. I’ll just wait for it……okay I’ll give. This game should be eerily reminiscent of a certain 2007-2008 National Championship Game featuring Kansas. Well, that game they were playing Memphis, not Kentucky…but wait, wasn’t that team coached by John Calipari? Aren’t connections in sports fun?!?! In that game, a grizzled Kansas team with players who had danced some dances and done some dirty work were ready to step into the spotlight. The other team, Memphis, had flashy players who had just seemed to absorb the spotlight. It may not have been as severe as this year, but Kansas was certainly placed in the role of the underdog against Memphis that season. People had fallen in love with the offense minded Tigers who just seemed to run up the scoreboard like opposing defenses had hit Bourbon Street a little too early (despite playing zero games in New Orleans that tournament). Kentucky…also an offense juggernaut who seems to score at will. Want another similarity? I’ll introduce you to Jeff Withey and re-introduce you to Cole Aldrich. The big hefties inside (both white) block shots almost as well as Kentucky’s Davis. While Withey certainly cannot hope to harmonize with Davis’s shot blocking prowess, he does posses some fine ability. Withey probably out-weighs Davis by thirty pounds and should still go right at the long-armed freak to try and get him into early foul trouble; thus immediately sentencing Kentucky to point-in-the-paint domination. Then there is that other guy. I wrote an article on him too. His name is Thomas Robinson and it might be possible no one is as hungry for the National Title as the Kansas power forward. the 6’10” Robinson should overwhelm Terrance Jones. Jones is a great player, but Jones himself has proven all year what happens when you play someone bigger, faster, and better than you…Terrance gets the opposite side of the coin this time. The only problem facing Kansas is who will stop Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? The best hope is Marquis Teague, the Kentucky point guard. If Kansas makes Teague and not Kidd-Gilly best them, then I think Kansas has more than a puncher’s chance against the Wildcats. Don’t let me get you too razzled up…Kentucky should still win this game if they play to their fullest potential; however, Kansas has the right players to compete and the experience to prevail. Offensive Kentucky versus defensive Kansas…freshman & sophomore Kentucky versus junior & senior Kansas. Outspoken and 0-1 Calipari versus Quiet and 1-0 Bill Self. Big Blue versus…well technically Kansas is blue too. Aside from the color similarities, we’ll see two polar opposite teams step onto the floor Monday in New Orleans. Who will win is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be too prepared to place that crown on Calipari’s head at this juncture.