Kentucky Captures 2012 NCAA Title
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (04/04/2012)
It marked the eighth time that the Wildcats have captured the national crown but the first for Kentucky coach John Calipari in two trips to the NCAA finals.
All-America center Anthony Davis, the first freshman to be named the National College Player of the Year since the University of Texas? Kevin Durant (now with the NBA?s Oklahoma City Thunder) turned in the trick in 2007, scored six points, grabbed 16 rebounds, handed out five assists and blocked six shots for the Wildcats (38-2), who picked up their first NCAA title since 1998.
The 6-10 Davis, who collected 18 points, 14 boards and five blocks in Kentucky?s 69-61 win over intrastate rival Louisville in the semifinals, gained NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors.
The 19-year-old Davis is expected to be the first pick in the entire NBA draft in June if he decides to turn professional, following in the footsteps of other prominent one-and-done collegians in recent years such as Duke?s Kyrie Irving (No. 1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 2011) and Kentucky?s John Wall (No. 1 by the Washington Wizards, 2010).
Kansas? 6-10 junior forward Thomas Robinson, the first unanimous All-America First Team selection since the University of Oklahoma?s Blake Griffin (now with the NBA?s LA Clippers) accomplished the feat in 2009, chalked up 18 scores and 17 rebounds in the finale against Kentucky. Robinson would likely be the No. 2 selection in the NBA grab-bag should he opt to bypass his final year of varsity eligibility.
The Jayhawks finished the season with a 32-7 record.
The 2012 NCAA championship game marked the second title confrontation between head coaches Calipari and Kansas? Bill Self in five seasons and was the second meeting between their elite teams during the 2011-12 collegiate wars.
On November 15, the Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks, 75-65, at the Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Self and Calipari faced each other in the championship game of the 2008 NCAA tournament, with Self annexing his first and only national crown with a 75-68 overtime decision over Calipari?s Derrick Rose-powered Memphis Tigers at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
One of Self?s assistant coaches on the 2008 NCAA title unit was former Los Angeles Clipper Danny Manning, who himself powered Kansas to the 1988 NCAA diadem under Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown ? the second of the Jayhawks? three national championships.
The 45-year-old Manning will be taking over the head mentoring reins at the University of Tulsa next season.
Ironically, Calipari started his collegiate coaching career in 1982 as a volunteer assistant at the University of Kansas.
In four years with the Jayhawks, he worked under Ted Owens and Brown.
The 53-year-old Calipari was the head coach and executive vice president of basketball operations for the NBA?s New Jersey Nets from 1996-99.