|The Connecticut Huskies won their 3rd title yestday, defeating Butler by a score of 53-41|
The Connecticut Huskies did it, it wasn't pretty, but still they defeated the Butler Bulldogs to win the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament. The Huskies finished with an overall 32-9 record, and ended the season winning 11 straight games, throughout the Big East and NCAA tournaments. Connecticut also never lost to a team outside of the Big East all season. The Huskies this season won three tournaments this year, a rare feat that not many teams have accomplished. In addition to the Big East and NCAA tournament, the Connecticut won the preseason Maui Invitational.
Throughout the season, the Huskies were led by Junior guard, and scoring sensation, Kemba Walker. Walker was an absolute beasts this year, averaging 23.5 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, and 5.4 rebounds per game. Although he was a little rusty in the championship game, Walker throughout the season led UCONN to important wins.
So everyone knows how good Kemba Walker is but who else stepped up and helped the Huskies win their 3rd title. Walker got much of his help from some very talented underclassmen.
Jeremy Lamb, the dual flex guard and forward, stepped it up not only in the title game but throughout the season. Lamb averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game.
Alex Oriakhi also was a big help to Kemba. The Big guy averaged close to ten points and nine rebounds per game, cleaning up Kemba's misses. He also averaged a block and a half per game. Oriakhi was the only player in the championship game to record a double double this year.
Another huge help to Walker and the Huskies was Roscoe Smith, the freshman forward who along with Oriakhi shut down opponents big men and also grabbed rebounds down low. Smith averaged six points and five rebounds per game.
Of course, head coach Jim Calhoun deserves a bunch of credit. A year ago, Calhoun was contemplating retirement. He had broke a NCAA violation and was serving a suspension, was physically sick, and the Huskies were an inexperienced wild team. Calhoun settled them down this year, brought in a great freshman class and led the Huskies to their third national title. All three titles have come under Calhoun. The 1999 team was led by Rip Hamilton, the 2004 was led by Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor, and this year was led by Kemba Walker. With this year's title, Calhoun becomes the oldest coach (68) to ever win the championship.
The Butler Bulldogs. What another heartbreak story. The team loses their star Gordon Hayward, just to prove the world wrong again, but returning to the title game just to lose. Just the look on their faces said it all, the tears running down their faces. Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, the two leaders of the team this year were in disbelief, once again coming so close to winning it all. Coach Brad Stevens also was in awe, and could not believe what had happened.
Going into the half Butler did have a 22-19 lead, but both teams were shooting terribly. The Huskies turned that around in the second half, and the Bulldogs were never able to find their touch outside or inside. The Huskies would end up cutting the nets down with a score of 53-41.
In the rankings, Uconn was one vote short of a unanimous decision for the #1 ranking. The rest of the top five was finished out by Butler, Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State.
So with the underclassmen definitely staying for at least another year, will Kemba also return for his senior year, and possibly win another. Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger said he would be back in Columbus, and reports are saying that Harrison Barnes along with John Henson and Tyler Zeller of North Carolina might all be back too.