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Calipari finally wins his way, and his title haul won't be done with one

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NEW ORLEANS -- People will still talk about Marcus Camby and that jewelry. And Derek Rose and that SAT. And that nine-point lead Memphis blew in the final two minutes against Kansas. And that time Kentucky didn't make the Final Four with five NBA draft picks. And Worldwide Wes because, man, people will never stop talking about Worldwide Wes.

But a title is now part of the story, too.

John Calipari finally has his national championship.

"Now I can get about my business of coaching basketball and getting these players to be the best that they can be ... and also helping them prepare for life after basketball," Calipari said. "I can get on with that. I don't have to hear the drama. I can just coach now."

Doron Lamb scored 22 points and Anthony Davis added 16 rebounds and six blocks to lead Kentucky to a 67-59 victory against Kansas here at the Superdome late Monday that allowed the Wildcats to win their eighth national championship. That's one story. But the main story is that John Vincent Calipari from Moon Township, Pa., won his first national championship and proved once and for all that you can achieve greatness in this sport while flipping a middle finger to conventional wisdom and an organization that placed both of his previous schools (UMass and Memphis) on probation.

"Lotta angry people right now," Calipari said. "They tried to put the black hat on me."

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And in lots of ways it fits, because everything mentioned in the first paragraph of this column is real and very much a part of Calipari's 20 seasons as a college basketball coach, and the truth is that it'll always be there -- and he'll forever "have to hear the drama" -- regardless of what he thinks. It doesn't matter whether it's right or wrong, fair or unfair. All that matters is that it's true.

But it's also OK.

Because a title is now part of the story, too.

It shouldn't be omitted any more than the other stuff should.

So Calipari's critics can never again yell about how he "can't win the big game" with "a bunch of one-and-dones" because he just won the big game with a bunch of one-and-dones, and he did it in a tournament in which UK cruised through six NCAA tournament contests by an average of 12 points. Indiana, Louisville and Kansas did at different times push these Wildcats in the Sweet 16, Final Four and national title game, but there was never a moment when it felt like Kentucky would actually lose. Each time things got interesting, Darius Miller would hit a runner or Marquis Teague would bury a jumper or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would get a block like the block he got on Tyshawn Taylor's layup attempt with 63 seconds remaining in this season that would have cut UK's lead to 63-59.

"I definitely thought I had a layup," Taylor said. "He made an unbelievable play."

Which is what I'll remember most about these Wildcats -- all the unbelievable plays they made from November till April while compiling a 38-2 record. There were ferocious drives from Kidd-Gilchrist, dagger 3-pointers from Miller and enough dunks and blocks from Davis that otherwise reasonable humans started thinking he might be Superman until KU star Thomas Robinson reminded us earlier this week that he's not.

"I still don't think he's Superman -- just a great player," Robinson said. "You see he impacted [this] game without even scoring. That's just what he do."

And what does Calipari do?

"I just do what I do," Calipari said. "I don't know what to tell you."

Calipari transitioned from that comment into a story about how he never promises recruits starting positions or shot attempts, and then he somehow settled into a speech about his infamous words from the 2010 NBA Draft. Despite the fact that UK had at the time won seven national titles, Calipari said on that night that John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and three other Wildcats getting selected in the first round might've been "the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history." It didn't go over well in the Commonwealth.

"Everybody got crazy ... but the reason [I said it was because] I knew other kids would look and say, 'You got to go there,'" Calipari said. "So what I'm hoping [now] is that there are six first‑rounders on this team. ... That's why I've got to go recruiting Friday."

And you know what happens next, right?

Industry sources believe Calipari will probably land Class of 2012 stars Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett to go with the other Class of 2012 stars he has already committed (Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley). He'll then combine them with Kyle Wiltjer and N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow and almost certainly have the nation's most talented team again next season, even though all the names and faces and eyebrows will be different.

I realize that sounds crazy, but it's true.

So, yes, everything mentioned in the first paragraph of this column is real and very much a part of Calipari's 20 seasons as a college basketball coach, and the truth is that it'll always be there -- and he'll forever "have to hear the drama" -- regardless of what he thinks. But this national title, how it was achieved and who achieved it is part of the story, too. And that's terrible news for every other coach and program in this sport.

Coach One-and-Done is also Coach Won-and-Done.

He's got a black hat and a title ring.

Good luck stopping him now.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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