CRAWFORD | Coach K: Unbeaten Kentucky has been 'good for college basketball'
Mike Krzyzewski said that Kentucky, with its unselfish play and deep bench, has helped return the team concept to college basketball, and has been good for the game.
Thursday, April 2nd 2015, 4:43 pm EDT by
Thursday, April 2nd 2015, 5:05 pm EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) — You've heard the argument from various places throughout the season that Kentucky, with its stockpile of elite talent, is ruining college basketball. But another argument was put forward in Lucas Oil Stadium during the first day of Final Four news conferences on Thursday.
That Kentucky has
I mention this because the source of this opinion has a bit of clout around the country. It's Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“John has done an amazing job with his group, and it's been good for college basketball in that you've been talking about a team instead of talking about freshmen or individuals,” Krzyzewski said. “For a few years we've gotten to be like the pros where it's a matchup of individuals. This year it's a renewal of what college basketball should be: it's about teams. Kentucky's been a great team.”
In fact, for all the talent at the Final Four this year, the four programs who gather in Indianapolis represent a triumph of team basketball.
Kentucky has players who have sacrificed minutes for the good of the whole. Wisconsin is one of the best-executing team offenses in the game. Michigan State had to band together after regular-season adversity. And Duke has been Duke, behind a great individual in Jahlil Okafor, yes, but also senior leadership from Quinn Cook and a team that came together after Krzyzewski dismissed Rasheed Suliamon.
“It's not a big ego group here,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I think what (Krzyzewski) said about John's team, too, is interesting, because usually the superstars are supposed to have the big egos. I don't see a lot of big egos in this tournament. Probably the fewest I've seen in a lot of years.”
Now, let's not understate the talent.
lists four Kentucky Wildcats as projected first-round draft picks: Karl-Anthony Towns (No. 1), Willie Cauley-Stein (6), Devin Booker (17) and Trey Lyles (19). Duke has three: Jahlil Okafor (2), Justise Winslow (5) and Tyus Jones (26). Wisconsin has a pair: Frank Kaminsky (10) and Sam Dekker (16). That's nine among three teams. The teams also have a combined 18 McDonald's All-Americans.
But none of the teams are dominated by one player.
“Talent is a funny thing,” Izzo said. “Talent doesn't always win games. Talent doesn't always make you great. It gives you maybe a better opportunity if you utilize your talent, if you are coachable, a good teammate. This isn't boxing. It's not tennis. It's not golf. You got to be talented. And I think Mike alluded to it with Kentucky this year, guys are willing to take on different roles, not play as many minutes, not score as many points. I think the more talent you have, the better it is, as long as it's talent that's coachable and talent that has a team concept in mind.”
Krzyzewski chimed in, “Yeah, this Final Four has a lot of talent. I think it's coordinated talent. It's talent that makes other talent better. It's a piano player and the guitar player and the singer who are making each other better, not just a great piano player. That coordinated talent is why you see four outstanding teams, because they're not playing against each other, they're playing with one another against somebody. This is a great Final Four. We have four really outstanding teams here.”
The team talk from coaches at the top of their game is a bit different from what we've heard from time to time about Kentucky this season.
Wisconsin and Ryan's season a year ago ended against Kentucky. He played Michigan State and Duke both this season. Not many men are in a better position to handicap this Final Four field than he is.
“There's shooters, there's ball handlers, there's bigs,” Ryan said. “I mean, you can go from every aspect of the game of basketball and look at these four teams, there are guys that are just blue-collar guys that are there to rebound and play defense, there are guys that are there to score, there are guys that are there to kill you in the post, there's guys defensively that can lock you down. I would say in this Final Four, having played all the teams within the past year, there's a little bit of everything. It's at a very high level.”
Kentucky. Good for college basketball. Who would have thought? At long last, the Wildcats are being recognized for the thing that Calipari has called “the story” all along.
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