Tag: 2014 NCAA Tournament

Shabazz Napier (AP Photo)

Our look back at 2014 NCAA tournament


source: AP

The 2014 NCAA tournament is over, but before we officially move on to the 2014-2015 season, here is a quick look back at what was an outstanding three-week event:

FINAL FOUR: All Final Four coverage

NBCSports.com All-Tournament Team:

  • Shabazz Napier, UConn
  • Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
  • DeAndre Daniels, UConn
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

Best Individual Performance:

1. Xavier Thames, San Diego State vs. North Dakota State: Thames had 30 points and eight assists and, at one point, was responsible for 46 of the Aztecs’ first 55 points.

2. Adreian Payne, Michigan State vs. Delaware: Payne had 41 points on 10-for-15 shooting as the Spartans beat Delaware in the opening round.

3. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin vs. Arizona: The 28 points and 11 boards that Kaminsky put on Arizona is the sole reason the Badgers are in the Final Four.

4. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State vs. Kentucky: Early had 31 points, hitting big shot after big shot, but it wasn’t enough to get the Shockers past the Wildcats.

5. DeAndre Daniels, UConn vs. Iowa State: Daniels scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while helping to force Melvin Ejim to miss ten of his first 11 shots as the Huskies advanced.

6. Bryce Cotton, Providence vs. North Carolina: Cotton had 36 points and eight assists, but the Friars got bounced in the opening round.

7. Shabazz Napier, UConn vs. Villanova: Shabazz finished with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting, playing through a bad ankle and a bruised shin.

Memorable Moments:

Best Games:

1. Kentucky 75, Michigan 72

2. Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63 OT

3. Kentucky 74, Wisconsin 73

4. Kentucky 78, Wichita State 76

5. Iowa State 85, North Carolina 83

6. Kentucky 74, Louisville 69

7. Michigan State 56, Virginia 51

8. Arizona 70, San Diego State 64

9. North Dakota State 80, Oklahoma 75 OT

10. Stephen F. Austin 77, VCU 75 OT

11. Texas 87, Arizona State 85

12. North Carolina 79, Providence 77

13. Dayton 60, Ohio State 59

Biggest Shots:

1a. Aaron Harrison vs. Michigan:

1b. Aaron Harrison vs. Wisconsin

2. Desmond Hayman vs. VCU:

3. Lawrence Alexander vs. Oklahoma:

4. DeAndre Kane vs. North Carolina:

5. Amida Brimah vs. St. Joseph’s:

6. Cameron Ridley vs. Arizona State:

7. Vee Sanford vs. Dayton:

Like 2004, UConn is once again the center of college basketball in 2014

source: AP

In 2004, Jim Calhoun led the Huskies to their second championship in six seasons with a National Title win over Georgia Tech in San Antonio. More than 500 miles away in New Orleans, the women’s team defeated rival Tennessee to cap off a three-peat for Geno Auriemma’s fifth championship.

A decade later, the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been crowned champions in the same season once again. Thirteen times a UConn basketball team has played for a National Title and thirteen times a UConn basketball team has ended up cutting down the nets.

Their seasons may have finished similarly, but different paths were taken for their respective titles.

On March 15, the men’s team lost to Louisville, the defending national champion, by 33 points. UConn limped into the NCAA tournament as a No.7 seed, and Final Four hopes were almost dashed in the Round of 64 if it weren’t for a come-from-behind overtime win over Saint Joseph’s. After upsetting Villanova in the Round of 32, UConn found itself in a familiar setting, inside Madison Square Garden. The success the Huskies had inside The World’s Most Famous Arena in the past as a member of the Big East was replicated, as they upended Iowa State and Michigan State, a title favorite, to advance to the Final Four.

UConn overcame a slow start against top-ranked Florida to advance to Monday’s final against Kentucky. The Huskies never trailed in the National Title game, but they had to hold off the Wildcats in a wire-to-wire championship victory.

Remarkable considering Kevin Ollie took over a program two years ago with an APR score which barred UConn from postseason play in 2013. But Shabazz Napier, who remained in Storrs when others left for greener pastures, had that loyalty rewarded, winning his second title in four years. One more than the man he struggled to replace, but ultimately out did.


Getty Images

While the men went on an improbable run this March, the women went on an expected trip back to the Final Four after Auriemma and his Huskies captured their eighth title in 2013.

For the fifth time under Auriemma, the Hall of Fame coach, UConn ran the table, matching the 40-0 mark set by Brittney Griner’s Baylor team in 2012. What made the victory sweeter for Auriemma is that it came at the hands of rival Muffet McGraw, who led her undefeated Fighting Irish into Nashville for the women’s final.

Tuesday night’s final began like the men’s championship game the previous the evening. The UConn offense got out to quick start before the opposition cut into the lead with a late run before heading into the break.

In the second half, the inside presence of Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart began to assert their dominance over the Notre Dame frontline playing without Natalie Achonwa. While it was the UConn front court that proved to be the overwhelming factor for the women’s championship matchup, it was the defensive pressure of the men’s experienced back court that prevailed over the size and strength of Kentucky.

Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright hounded the Aaron and Andrew Harrison, taking away ball screens and forcing the 6-foot-6 duo to 6-of-16 shooting. 

The free three woes played a role in Kentucky’s loss, but it was the limited second-chance opportunities for the Wildcats that kept them from ever taking the lead. The UConn men outrebounded Kentucky by one, not 23 like the women did the next night against their opponent. Though narrowly winning the battle on the boards, UConn held Kentucky to just seven second-chance points from 10 offensive rebounds.

The roads were clearly different, but ended in places both coaches anticipated on reaching.

“Somebody told me we were Cinderellas, and I was like, ‘No, we’re UConn,'” Kevin Ollie said on Monday night. “I mean this is what we do. We are born for this. We’re bred to cut down nets. We’re not chasing championships, championships are chasing us.”

A decade later, Storrs, Conn. has reaffirmed its place as the home of college basketball.

John Calipari reflects on Kentucky’s season during celebration at Rupp Arena (VIDEO)

John Calipari

Kentucky’s season began with high expectations after John Calipari assembled “the greatest recruiting class in history” with ridiculous chatter of 40-0 as a possibility.

In March, Kentucky lost to top-ranked Florida for the second and third time, upping the loss total to 10 heading into the NCAA tournament.

Selection Sunday ended with Kentucky slotted as the No. 8 seed in the bracket’s most difficult region. The Wildcats went on an unlikely run through the likes of undefeated Wichita State, rival Louisville and last year’s national runner-up Michigan.

An 11-loss season wasn’t what many anticipated in the preseason, but a Final Four appearance also didn’t seem likely when Kentucky lost to South Carolina on March 1.

“This was an unbelievable journey that none of us staff or players will ever forget,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari told the crowd at Rupp Arena.

An up-and-down season ended with both the thrills of a tournament run and the disappointment of a championship loss for Kentucky. Calipari recapped the 2013-2014 season in front of Big Blue Nation on Tuesday.