Connecticut continued its improbable tournament success – the Huskies have won the Maui Invitational, Big East tournament and four straight NCAA tourney games – by holding off Arizona in the West Regional final on Sunday.
Here’s a rundown of the reaction.
Yes, Kemba is the best player in the nation. Yes, Jeremy Lamb is a freshman story like few others. And, yes, it feels glorious for UConn fans to bask in an unexpected Final Four. But to sell the program short, man, that was a mistake. To believe the program was dead was stupid. That is to undersell a Hall of Fame coach, maybe the most competitive man on the planet. Remarkable March? Absolutely. Impossible season? Of course not.
— Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant
For a player listed, perhaps generously, at 6-1 to make 52 percent of his twos while functioning as his team’s featured scorer would be impressive anytime. To do it in March against the likes of Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, and San Diego State, as Kemba Walker has done, is heroic. Walker’s even managed to improve what didn’t really need improvement. An 82 percent shooter from the line, Walker is hitting 89 percent of his freebies in the postseason. In just about every way that a star can carry a team, Kemba Walker has put the Huskies on his back.
— John Gasaway, Basketball Prospectus
Somehow, some way, a year after missing the tournament entirely, Calhoun and UConn are back, two wins from a national championship. Unlikely as the ride may have been, Calhoun will drive this bus all the way to Houston.
— Gerry Ahern, Yahoo! Sports
The ultimate grandeur and lure of sport lies in the simple fact that you just never know. This isn’t like going to a concert, play or movie. This business is completely and utterly unscripted. It all falls in the lap of the participants to give us the story. It is the ultimate improvisational theater. What UConn has done by winning these nine consecutive games in 19 days is unprecedented in the annals of collegiate basketball. No matter what he says, even perennial optimist Jim Calhoun never thought for a millisecond when they threw the ball up to start his first-round Big East tournament game against DePaul back on March 8 that he would be attending the 2011 Final Four as the coach of a participating team. But it’s sport. You never know, you know?
— Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
And while Kemba hasn’t exactly disappointed these past two games, it has been Jeremy Lamb — the long-armed Robin to Kemba’s Batman — that put UConn into the Final Four.
— Rob Dauster, Ballin is a Habit
You kidding me with this team? It’s still playing? If you ever want to make the case momentum can exist in college basketball, point to these boys. What are the adjectives you’d like me to use? We’ve got a whole bin to pick from here that would be appropriate. We can use unprecedented. Remarkable. Freaky. Anomalous. Scary. Unstoppable. Kemba-catapulted. I’ll stop now because I’ve got a blog post to finish.
— Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
In the end, it was Calhoun who had the winning formula. His team made an early statement by winning the Maui Invitational despite the doom and gloom that many predicted in the preseason. The Huskies then endured a Big East season that left them tied for ninth in the standings, all the while waiting for, and accepting, an NCAA punishment that included probation and a three-game conference suspension for Calhoun next season. Now they’re off to Houston after compiling a hard-to-fathom 12-0 record in tournament games this season (Maui, Big East, NCAA).
— Diamond Leung, ESPN.com
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