Archive for the ‘NCAA Basketball’ Category

In the words of college basketball color commentator Clark Kellogg, “Watching these two teams shoot is like watching paint dry”.

I believe we can all agree, especially Greg Anthony, that this was one of the worst NCAA championships of all time. 53 to 41 points. 34% versus 18% field goal percentage. UConn’s winning mark was the lowest scoring win since World War II era with Wisconsin’s 39-34 win over Wazzu in’41.

Rather than bash the atrocious scoring efforts of both teams, watching this game helped make a comparison, aside from the title game, that the 2010-11 Huskies resemble the roster make up of the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers.

2011 NCAA Champions

Of course, the most notable, yet most controversial comparison lies between junior guard Kemba Walker and shooting guard Kobe Bryant. Naturally there are physical differences (Walker stands at a mere 6’1” while Bryant towers over him at 6’6”), playing level, experience, and team composition.

However, both have one common, “umbrella” characteristic that branch out into other minor feats: they both know how to control the game. Walker’s 23.7 ppg in the regular season, with an incredible 26.3 ppg within the Big East/NCAA tournament resonates to Bryant’s 27.0 ppg last season accompanied by a 29.2 ppg average in the post season, both roughly a 7% increase.

Next up, Walker’s stellar performance through out the entire March Madness earned him the “Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four” while Bryant’s magician-like showing during the 2010 post season earned an “NBA Finals MVP” accolade. Not enough? Let’s move on.

Incorporating teammates is another critical component to the two play makers’ style of play. Dishing out around five assists a game and an above 1.5 assist to turnover ratio reflects that the two sharp shooters aren’t all about the stats.

Speaking of teammates, there are some uncanny comparison in some UConn to LA players. Freshman forward Jeremy Lamb’s clutch 2nd half against Butler and hard-nose defense resembled Lakers’ forward Ron Artest and some of his 4th quarter heroics. Sophomore big man Alex Oriakhi’s near double-double season average and capability of shutting down Butler’s paint play echoed center Pau Gasol’s wall-like presence down low against the Celtic’s Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

2010 NBA Champions

Not only do their rosters show commonalities, but their coaches seem to share some redeeming qualities as well. Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun became the oldest coach to win a NCAA basketball collegiate title at age 68, making it his 3rd title overall. On the flip side, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson isn’t drinking from the fountain of youth either- at age 65 was able to win his 11th NBA title. Yes, the numbers are a bit skewed, but the only NCAA coach to come close to that number is UCLA legend John Wooden with 10.

Digging further in the two teams’ alikeness, both have had a roughly the same roller coaster of a history the past 10 years. UConn’s 2004 winning year with Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon parallels the Lakers 1999-04 Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal era. The two teams both have had down falls and with a few rebuilding seasons, returned to national glory.

Who knows if Walker will replicate Bryant’s NBA career of any sort or will share even remotely the same impact #24 has had on the Lakers, or if UConn will be a collegiate powerhouse as the Lakers are to the NBA. However, if one thing is for certain, Walker’s leadership and performance of the Huskies tournament run shows at least a glimpse of what the guard has in store for the basketball world to see.

guard Kemba Walker