Whatever Kevin Ollie is doing is working better than Michael Jordan‘s “Secret Stuff” did in Space Jam. The UConn Huskies owned the Florida Gators last night, and have earned a spot in the 2014 National Championship Game. No experts, or even fortune tellers could have predicted that the Huskies would have sniffed this game, yet here we are, the Sunday before the title game and UConn is one of the last teams standing.
UConn followed the blueprint they have been using all tourney long. They spread out the Florida big men with shooting by DeAndre Daniels, who scored 20 points and 10 boards and is gunning for that Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. They frustrated the Gator guards, holding SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin to just four points on 2-9 shooting.
I have to apologize to Ryan Boatright because I have been calling him Jeremy Boatright for the last three weeks. I am not sure what came over me, and maybe he was reading my articles because he had his best game of the tournament (Shout out to J. Geller AKA @windycityswag23 for pointing out my ignorance. Follow him on twitter for some refreshing insight on all things sports and Chicago). Ryan finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists, and helped his big men on the defensive boards against the Gator’s front line.
The heady duo of coach Ollie and senior Shabazz Napier reminded us how important senior guards are, especially with young coaches. Napier and his teammates struggled to get anything going on offense out of the gate, but were patient and ended the first half on a big run. Napier did his best Chris Paul impersonation by driving the lane with guards on his back to finish, but mainly to find guys like Daniels on the wing. He started scoring more in the second half, finishing with 12 points and six assists. He also was a pest on defense, interrupting passing lanes and concluding the night with four steals. Napier is looking to bookend his NCAA career with national championships, as he was a Freshman when UConn won the title in 2011.
As for Ollie, John Thompson made a great point about the coach during the radio broadcast of the game. He said coaches can communicate, but not many can communicate and motivate. Ollie appears to be capable of both as his team has gotten down repeatedly in their tournament games, but have yet to show any signs of distress. In his first NCAA Tournament experience, Ollie will be coaching in the final game. We’ll find out on Monday night if the Huskies have what it takes to walk away National Champs.