Five observations from UConn-Butler title game

by | Special to

1. The defense never rests

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In their semifinal win over Kentucky, Connecticut's halfcourt defense was sensational and against Butler, it was even better. Led by Shabazz Napier, the Huskies' vicious on-ball pressure negated any opportunities for the Bulldogs to get anything at the rim. In the rare times they did, the length of Roscoe Smith, Alex Oriakhi, and Charles Okwandu altered anything that was shot toward the rim.

2. Alex's emergence

All tournament long, Oriakhi had seemed destined for a breakout game and in the biggest 40 minutes of the season, he delivered. The burly power forward posted a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while sitting the second part of the first half with foul trouble.

3. The company he keeps

With the win and his third national championship, Jim Calhoun joins Bob Knight, John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, and Mike Krzyzewski as the only coaches in the history of college basketball to win three or more titles. The win augments Calhoun's legacy from its already lofty perch and ensures he will go down as the greatest coach in the history of the Big East.

4. An unlikely boost

Freshman forward Niels Giffey was in and out of the UConn rotation for the majority of the season but on Monday night, he finally hit his stride. Giffey played 24 minutes, played solid defense, and added four points with six rebounds to give the Huskies a major lift off the bench. If Giffey can play the same way next season, he could turn into a tremendous glue guy for the Huskies.

5. More than one man

Kemba Walker might have had one of his most difficult shooting nights of the season but UConn proved it's much more than its superstar. In addition to their tremendous defense, the Huskies got quality scoring from both Jeremy Lamb and Oriakhi, who both figure to be two of the main building blocks for UConn next season.

They said it

"Anytime you lose it's going to sting," -- Butler coach Brad Stevens when asked if this loss in the title game was harder to take than last year's.

"Our mindset didn't change. We eventually thought some of the shots were going to go in," -- Matt Howard on Butler's shooting woes.

"From the end of last season coach gave me the keys and I just drove," -- Kemba Walker on leading UConn.

"If I can give the kids everything I physically have, I'll coach. If I can't, I won't," -- Jim Calhoun on if he'll retire.

"He's truly one of the great defenders I've ever seen as a freshman," -- Calhoun on Shabazz Napier.


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