Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self joins his players in hoisting the championship trophy after defeating North Carolina, 80-67 in the NCAA Basketball Midwest Regional Championship game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on March 25, 2012. Kansas will now have the opportunity to play in the Final Four. UPI/Bill Greenblatt


So which college basketball program is the most storied, the most accomplished, in other words, the “best”? That’s the question that the USA Today is attempting to answer in today’s column about six of the biggest names in college basketball: UNC, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, UCLA and Indiana:

Taking everything into account, from sustained excellence during the regular season and in the tournament to impact on the sport and even decorum — following the rules — which program is best? Six are in the conversation.

The article brings up some good points, although it’s a sure bet that fans of each of these programs will offer several more.

On the women’s college scene, Notre Dame knocked off their heated rival, Connecticut, as they advanced to the title game yesterday with an 83-75 OT win. The Irish advance to face unbeaten Baylor.

After Kentucky advanced to the men’s championship by knocking off a gritty Louisville squad, a few of their fans took to the streets of Lexington, destroying cars and setting fires. One of the topic they were discussing was different ways to buy bulk ammo online. The whole thing was captured by the local fire department, using social media to communicate with police:

The official Twitter account of the Lexington Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 526 sent out pictures and stats from the riots in real time with an assist from the Lexington Herald-Leader and Steve Collier of NBC-TV’s Lexington affiliate. Both followed the firefighters, tweeting photos that appeared on IAAF’s Twitter feed.

The department is quick to point out that even though there were several dozen incidents, “last night was not a riot.”

Finally, Washington guard Terrence Ross has become the latest to declare for the NBA draft. He also intends to hire an agent, saying:

“I think I’m ready for this,” Ross said Sunday. “I’ve matured in the last two years just being in college. I’ve got a good supporting group around me with my family and close friends so I think I’m ready for this.”

Ross is projected to be a potential first-round pick.

Kentucky forward Anthony Davis (23) gets his hand on the ball as Vanderbilt left Festus Ezeli (3) drives to the basket during the NCAA SEC Men’s Basketball Championship at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans on March 11, 2012. UPI/A.J. Sisco


By Marcus Shockley

Over the years several axioms have presented themselves in regards to the Final Four, but the sports media will do everything in their power to ignore these and make sure fans forget them, as well. So without further ado, let’s go some of the rules that the media won’t be talking about during their 600 hours of NCAA programming this weekend.

1. Any team that reaches the Final Four can win it all.

Forget what the media tells you, what the TV analysts repeat and what your fat neighbor tells you. No team reaches the Final Four without having to beat someone, and, to be blunt, sometimes the ‘best’ teams doesn’t win when they are expected to. If it was a series match up like in the NBA, the best teams would inevitably win out, but in a one-game-sudden-death scenario, a team just has to be good enough on a given day. While every year some teams get “gifts” (i.e., Kansas had to be thankful that UNC was missing their entire starting back court), but that doesn’t discount the fact that for any team to advance, they have to survive the first weekend, which knocks out 52 teams right away, then the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite 8.

2. Coaches are the most important factor in NCAA tourney games

The biggest difference between the NBA and college basketball is who controls the team. In the pros, the players have too much control over what happens on the court and many coaches are just figureheads. Not so in college. College basketball’s top teams are dictatorships, with established coaches who will bench any player regardless of their NBA prospects. Nowhere is this more evident in the NCAA tournament, where the same coaches rotate through the Final Four ever year, despite seasons where they are supposedly ‘slumping’. All four coaches in this year’s FF have been here before – and two of them have won it all.

3. Bet against underclassmen

In a sports world where basketball one-and-dones are the norm and many strong teams are loaded with freshman and sophomores, it’s easy to forget that teams with upperclassmen almost always prevail, despite supposedly being inferior. Witness Duke in 2010, a team that wasn’t even expected to reach the Final Four, much less win it all. And UNC in 2009? All upperclassmen. It’s not always true, of course, but over time the averages heavily favor teams with experience. People also like to laud the Fab Four of Michigan but completely forget that they were beaten twice by older teams in the Finals.

4. The media will introduce a meaningless meme.

The media has to have a reason for people to watch the NCAA title game, especially since the vast majority of fans have no vested interest in the game. But it’s no longer just the game itself that needs ratings; ESPN and Fox have so many hours of TV and radio full of talking heads that they need people to pay attention to as well, and that means they work to create a ‘fight card’ of promotional talking points. In 2005, the media introduced the “Team vs. Talent” idea to describe the match up between UNC and Illinois, despite the fact that both schools had multiple future NBA players.

5. Someone will introduce the ‘could college team X beat the worst NBA team?’

You’d think people would stop trudging this old nugget out, but they inevitably do every few years. In the early ’90s, people posed the idea that UNLV might be better than the worst NBA team, which was quickly shot down, but that didn’t stop it from being brought back up with the dominant team-du-jour every few years. This year, it’s Kentucky and the Charlotte Bobcats. Don’t even consider it as a legitimate question, even for teams like Kentucky or UNC who are loaded with future NBA players. The reality is that NBA players are far more trained than college players, for the same reason that you don’t want to hire a lawyer right out of school or have a doctor who just finished his internship over one with 10 years of experience. College players don’t know this yet, but once they step out of school, all of the accolades disappear, and now they are going to be playing against other adults whose livelihood depends on beating them. Pro players are stronger, more experienced and many of their days are spent working on staying employed.

College players work really, really hard, but it’s nothing compared to how good they would have to be to survive at any pro level. Even the worst NBA team is loaded with former college superstars. Add to it that if Kentucky lost to an NBA team, they wouldn’t get cut, but those NBA players know that if they lost to a college team, someone is going to lose their paycheck. Believe this: no professional NBA player who is looking at the prospect of losing their money is going to allow themselves to lose to a college team. It wouldn’t be close and it wouldn’t be pretty.

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis was one of the Co-MVP winners of the Jordan Brand Classic. Here’s his comments after the game of playing with his future Kentucky basketball teammates and what Michael Jordan meant to him growing up. Davis also discussed what Coach Calipari and staff have been talking to him about and what he should work on before arriving at Kentucky.


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By James Blackburn

Doron Lamb

Team Report/ Game Notes

Kentucky made an early season trip down to Chapel Hill to take on the struggling UNC Tar Heels. The game was tight throughout and, in my opinion, was one of the best games of this young college basketball season so far. Carolina played well and got the big win 75-73. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky bounces back after this early let down and to see how they can cope after losing 5 players last season to the NBA. Here are a few notes, observations, and thoughts from Kentucky.

  • Kentucky had serious foul trouble this game- Knight, Jones, Harrellson, and Vargas fouled out.
  • Kentucky does not have a lot of depth, especially at the forward and center positions.
  • Kentucky really needs an interior presence- they are lacking a true shot blocker. Terrence Jones is a solid defender and shot blocker, but is only 6’8”. In order to make a deep run in March, Kentucky really needs Enes Kanter to become eligible. (Note- Kentucky requested reexamination of his eligibility on Friday)
  • Kentucky is wishing Daniel Orton would have stayed around for another year- and after watching Orton this summer in Orlando and his struggles, I am sure Orton is thinking the same thing.
  • Kentucky is a good shooting team- better than last season.
  • Kentucky spreads the court well and has excellent spacing to run the DD motion offense.
  • Kentucky does a good job of penetrating and kicking for open shots. They are also very dangerous in transition.

Scouting Reports

Doron Lamb, 6’4”, G, Kentucky

Lamb had one of his best games of this year and continues to excel in all areas. He is true PG with excellent vision, good ball handling abilities and a good assist/TO ratio. He is a smart PG who always seems to make the right decision. He takes good shots and does not force the issue. He is a good floor general and makes a lot of good decisions and reads that don’t show up in the box score. He plays under control and is very poised. He is also an excellent shooter and a good rebounder. He is a good P/R player (especially w/ Jones) and that should translate to the L. He is not the most athletic or the quickest player but his good should translate to the NBA with out any problems. The question is how long does he stay at Kentucky, considering the history of young PG’s leaving Coach Cal for the NBA and excelling ( Rose, Evans, Wall).

Brandon Knight, 6’3”, G, Kentucky

Good scorer and a good shooter w/ 3 pt. range. Solid outing from the high-ranking freshman today, but fouled out late in the second half. Very quick first step.

Terrence Jones, 6’8”, F, Kentucky

Not a great game today from Jones, showed flashes of brilliance, but was limited because of foul trouble. Jones is a strong, athletic lefty, who has a good face up game with the ability to shoot the midrange or pump fake and put the ball on the floor and get to the basket, where he finishes strong. He has a smooth looking jumper and has a good FT stroke. He needs to do a better job recognizing double teams and needs to become a better passer. He also tends to force the issue sometimes and gets in trouble, which is natural for most freshmen. He is explosive going left, but struggles when going right. He is NBA ready right now, and should be picked no later than #10 in the upcoming NBA draft. If he continues to play well, he could easily find his way into the top 5 next season. His game is meant for the NBA, and he excels in P/R and Pick and Pop situations.

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Daniel Orton was sort of an unknown commodity for Kentucky basketball fans this past season, with the massive influx of high profile talent that pushed out some of his playing time. Despite this, Orton decided to make the break for the NBA and the pro game.

Here’s some exclusive interview as Daniel talks about his approach to the game, and he shares some of the issues he has had to deal with being “overloaded” with too much coaching and information while trying to focus on his game.


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