Monday, April 2nd will set the stage for two of the most winningest programs in NCAA history to face off against each other in college basketball’s biggest stage. There are so many underlying story-lines heading into this game with the rich history of each school. James Naismith invented basketball and then established the University of Kansas basketball program in 1898. Naismith was the mentor to Phog Allen who was Naismith’s eventual successor as the Kansas basketball coach. Allen earned the name “Father of Basketball Coaching” during his tenure at the University of Kansas. Phog Allen also coached for Kansas’ baseball and football teams. Adolph Rupp or “The Man in the Brown Suit” learned the game under Phog Allen whom he played for, and later went on to coach at the University of Kentucky. The rivalry began with coaching.
John Calipari is the coach of Kentucky and Bill Self is the coach of Kansas. I’m a firm believer in coaching is everything. You can only go as far as your coaching brings you. In this case both coaches have done a great job this year to bring their respective teams to the tournament’s championship game. Kentucky is the sexy pick without a doubt. They have been for a majority of the year and why not they are probably the most talented group of kids with a pretty good coach. Then again Bill Self is no slouch and already owns a National Championship title. Who did he get that win against? Oh yea, that’s right it was against John Calipari. Coach Cal definitely has the upper hand in terms of pure talent. Coach Self has the advantage of experienced players. Coach Cal has been known to coach kids who are deemed “one and done”, while Coach Self tends to have most of his players play to at least their sophomore year. I’ll take experience over talent. Talent doesn’t always win championships. The Dallas Mavericks did beat the Heat in the NBA Finals in which the Heat had more talent. Coach Carlisle out-coached Coach Spoelstra. It’s happened before where the less talented team has beaten the favorites. These two coaches know that all too well.
This is a 2008 rematch amongst coaches. Coach Cal had a kid named Derrick Rose, I don’t know, maybe you heard of him. He also had good college players in Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson, Joey Dorsey, and Robert Dozier. All of them played in the NBA or still do. That’s 5 players that Coach Cal had that were NBA bound. This Kentucky team is said to have 5 or 6 prospects that will be NBA bound, most notably Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist,and Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, and Doron Lamb. Bill Self has about 3 prospects to be NBA players in Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, and Jeff Withey. In 2008 Bill Self had Cole Aldrich, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Darnell Jackson, and Brandon Rush. So the talent tables have flipped in terms of number of stars, but we all know that Coach Cal had the best talent in Derrick Rose. Yea reigning MVP of the NBA Derrick Rose.
Anthony Davis won the Naismith POY award and is only the second freshman to ever win the award. The other guy, Kevin Durant. That’s pretty good company, but Durant was a pure scorer where as Davis is more of a defensive asset with great length and shot blocking ability. Who knows how is NBA career will pan out? He could become a great scoring big man there’s no doubt. Patrick Ewing was drafted because of his defense and wasn’t really known for his scoring during his days at Georgetown and look how that turned out. There’s really no telling once a player makes it to the NBA. I’ll argue til I’m blue in the face that Derrick Rose is a better player than Antony Davis. It’s a point guards game and that’s my biggest arguing point. I’m not taking anything away from Davis because he’s a joy to watch, but you can’t really argue whose better when one has a Naismith POY award and the other has a MVP. Yes it took Rose a few years, but I mean he really blossomed in the tournament in 2008 to become the number 1 pick over Michael Beasley. Boy was that the right pick.
I’m not going to take the sexy pick, Kentucky. What fun would that be? I’ll let everybody else pick Kentucky and let them feel like they knew something I didn’t when they win like it was actually hard to say “Kentucky all day”. Did I mention Kansas is one of my favorite college basketball programs? Did I mentioned I picked Ohio State to win it all? Yea the Final Four game between Ohio State and Kansas really had me torn. One of your favorite schools against a team you picked to win it all. Tough. It’s only right I pick the team that beat “my pick” to win it all. I’ll take Coach Self and his 3-0 record in the Final Four over Coach Cal. I’ll take the experienced players over the young and talented players. It’s not like Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson are scrubs. The teams match up pretty well against each other. The last time these teams met in November Kentucky beat Kansas 75-65 in the second game of the season. Both teams are different teams since that game took place. Tonight should be a fun and competitive game to watch. I’m going Coach Self…All-In.