UConn shuts down Butler, 53-41

Connecticut Huskies guard Kemba Walker celebrates after the Connecticut Huskies defeated the Butler Bulldogs during their men’s final NCAA Final Four college basketball game in Houston, Texas, April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Connecticut shot 34.5% from the field, including 1-of-11 from long range, and turned the ball over five more times than Butler and still won the game by 12 points.

More than anything else, the story tonight was Butler’s shooting. They made just 12-of-64 (19%) from the field, and only 3-of-31 (10%) from two-point range thanks in part to UConn’s 10 blocked shots.

Greg Anthony called it the worst performance he’s ever seen in a championship game and that’s half true. It was a terrible shooting performance, but the Bulldogs played pretty great defense, holding UConn to just 53 points on 35% shooting. So for that they should be commended.

Regarding the shooting, UConn contested a lot of shots, but the Bulldogs missed some open looks as well. If anything, tonight’s game is yet another argument that the Final Four should take place in a basketball arena instead of in a football stadium. There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal today about how the shooting in domes decreases by an average of 4%. It’s simply tough to shoot in such a big building because there isn’t anything behind the basket to help give the shooter a frame of reference.

I’m not going to go into specifics about player statlines because they’re all pretty ugly (on both sides), but the play of UConn’s Alex Oriakhi (5-of-6 from the field, 11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) and Jeremy Lamb (12 second-half points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) were collectively the difference in the game. Oriakhi gave Matt Howard and Andrew Smith fits around the basket and Lamb’s scoring broke the game open in the second half.

Congratulations to Jim Calhoun and UConn on a great year. It’s amazing to think that we have a national champion who didn’t even finish in the TOP HALF of its conference. (UConn was 9th out of 16 teams in the Big East.) Since they didn’t bother to mention it during the telecast, let’s not forget that Calhoun will be suspended for the first three games of the Big East schedule next season for recruiting violations that happened under his watch. For his part, Calhoun has fought the NCAA’s ruling every step of the way.

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UConn’s tournament resume is looking better

The Huskies still have a lot of work to do, but last night’s big win over #7 West Virginia (73-62) puts UConn at 17-11 and 7-8 in the Big East. When Jim Calhoun rejoined the team after his three-week medical leave, they were 14-10 and 4-7 in the conference. After a 12-point loss to Cincinnati in his first game back, they’ve run off three straight, including wins over #3 Villanova and #7 West Virginia.

With Monday night’s win, Joe Lunardi bumped the Huskies up to his “last four in” list. However, the NCAA committee doesn’t often take teams that are sub-.500 in conference, so UConn needs to win at least two of its last three games — vs. LOU, @ ND, @ USF — to finish at least 9-9, and none of those teams are pushovers.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Jim Calhoun does not deny allegations of UConn recruiting violations

Calhoun addresses the report in the first few minutes of his press conference…

The part I love is this…

“It wasn’t a newspaper, I’m sorry. It was a blog story, I guess, that appeared on something that I probably can’t get a hold of, which is Yahoo.”

While it’s technically true that you can’t “get a hold of” a website, you can certainly get online and read the story before you make any comments about it.

And it wasn’t really a blog. It was a website story just like any other newspaper website story. Coaches (and politicians) like to use the term “blog” in kind of a sarcastic, negative fashion.

UConn tops Marquette, Duke survives

– Jim Calhoun became just the seventh coach in Division I hoops to win 800 games as his #2-ranked Huskies beat #11 Marquette in Milwaukee, 93-82. (Apparently, Calhoun is worth his big salary.) A.J. Price scored a career high 36 points in the win. Marquette’s Dominic James is going to miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot. His college career is over. UConn is likely to be ranked #1 next week.

– #7 Duke survived a tough College Park environment to beat a streaking Maryland team, 78-67. Gerald Henderson’s draft stock continues to shoot up the charts. He scored 19 points in a variety of ways, but none of his buckets were as spectacular as his down-the-lane jam in the second half. Check out the video below. (It’s at the 0:39 mark.)


Jim Calhoun dresses down a reporter

Mental note: Don’t question Jim Calhoun about his salary.

I’ve never been a big Jim Calhoun fan, though there is no doubt that he’s a great coach. My problem with him is the faces that he makes on the sideline. Trivial stuff, I know.

It’s funny how his demeanor changes as he realizes that the reporter is seriously questioning his salary. He starts off with a joke — “not a penny back” — and then you can literally see him get angry as the reporter continues.

He has a point. He’s essentially the CEO of the Connecticut basketball program, which has been one of the most successful programs in the country over the years. Yes, the economy is in the crapper and technically he’s a state employee. But to the University of Connecticut, he’s worth every dime.

This is the United States. We don’t begrudge anyone for making a ton of money if they are good at what they do.

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