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Fear the Brow: Anthony Davis and the Wildcats Win National Title

April 3, 2012

College Basketball

Can we just name Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, who led his team to a 67-59 win over the Kansas Jayhawks and a national championship on Monday night, the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year?

Anthony Davis hugs coach John Calipari after winning Kentucky's eighth national championship...I bet Coach Cal wishes he could hold onto that hug forever to keep Davis from entering the NBA draft.

Okay, so vets like Dwight Howard (the reigning three-time Defensive Player of the Year) and Lebron James might have a problem with handing Davis the Defensive Player of the Year trophy prematurely, but the Wildcats’ defense, led by Davis, is what won them the national championship. A look at Davis’ statline Monday shows just how special he is: He shot an abysmal 1-10 from the field for just six points (4-6 FTs), but he also recorded 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and three steals. One could easily argue that he had the biggest impact on this game, even if he hurt the Wildcats offensively.

Davis’ teammates more than made up for he lacked on offense, most notably Doron Lamb, who scored an efficient 22 points. Marquis Teague scored 14 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist chipped in 11. Terrence Jones, who had an ugly ankle roll in the first half, scored 9 points on 4-7 shooting.

The Jayhawks put up a fight, making for an exciting finish, but Kentucky’s defense was simply too good. Kansas shot 35.5% from the field, including a 6-17 shooting night from Thomas Robinson. Robinson should be acknowledged though, seeing as he scored 18 and grabbed a monstrous 17 rebounds. He just couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm offensively. Tyshawn Taylor put up 19 points, but also committed five turnovers. There really wasn’t much else there offensively for the Jayhawks. Elijah Johnson had a decent game with 13 points on 5-13 shooting and Jeff Withey couldn’t get it going at all, recording five points on 2-8 shooting. Withey does deserve credit for his five blocks however; each time Kansas looked ready to claw back into the game it was largely because of his defense on the inside.

Kentucky coach John Calipari had the Wildcats completely prepared for this game. Every time Kansas went on a run, Kentucky responded. Much of the first half was played at a blistering pace, where Kentucky really excelled, but even when Kansas forced the Wildcats to slow the tempo, they succeeded.

That’s the story of Kentucky’s season, really: ready for anything. When teams wanted to run, they ran faster; when teams wanted to slug it out, they slugged harder; when teams took away a primary scorer on offense, the rest of the gang was there to pick up the slack.

But let’s bring things full circle here…Kentucky blocked an NCAA championship game record 11 shots, with Davis, the 2012 James Naismith National Player of the Year, accounting for more than half of that. Robinson’s two best plays of the game (hard drive-and-dunks) came with Davis on the bench. When Davis was in the game, Kansas absolutely could not attack the basket. His presence alone completely changed the complexion of the Jayhawks’ offense. Imagine him packing on some pounds…now imagine him fine-tuning his game under the guidance of NBA coaches and veteran teammates…okay, now imagine him roaming the paint against your favorite team, never failing to rotate for the help defense and swallow up a shot near the rim. Feel free to shutter in fear.

 

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