Basketball is a game. It's played in several different ways on the court and off the court. There are different tactics used by many coaches, programs and universities. There are situations where schools and coaches break rules. Players break rules as well. However the games this weekend isn't about that. It's about four teams who made all the plays necessary to reach the national semi-finals.
Unless you've been under a rock, you know that both Jim Calhoun of Connecticut and John Calipari of Kentucky have both been under the NCAA microscope on and off during their careers. Despite there being some questions, each man has carved out a reputation as a great coach and a great teacher.
Now they will face each other Saturday night for the right to go to the national title game on Monday.
The storylines will focus on how much each coach supposedly dislikes the other and their alleged misdeeds off the court. The focus, unfortunately will not be on the fact that both of these coaches have done arguably their best coaching jobs of their careers.
Jim Calhoun lost Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards and Jerome Dyson from an NIT club. While the team returned Kemba Walker, Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu who contributed to the team, there were very few expectations for this team. The Huskies have ridden the back of Walker, the others as well as freshmen Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb.
John Calipari lost eight players from last year's team, including five first-round draft picks. While Kentucky landed the nation's top recruiting class, that class and Kentucky's chances for the NCAA title took a big blow when Enes Kanter was ruled ineligible. Upperclassmen Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson all stepped up their efforts to go along with freshmen Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones to carry UK to the last weekend of the season.
It goes without saying how huge it is for Shaka Smart and Virginia Commonwealth to reach the Final Four. They were an NCAA after-thought and wound up playing in the First Four, before reaching the Final Four. The program will earn huge recognition and eventually Shaka Smart could wind up with a bigger job than his VCU gig.
Butler reached the Final Four for the second straight year. What's most interesting and impressive about Brad Stevens' team this year is that they were likely not going to the tournament until they made a run at the end of the season, winning their conference tournament. Stevens is bound for the Final Four and he could probably get any open job in the nation after this weekend, if he wants it.
Despite these on the floor accomplishments, the focus from many of the national media members remains on the coaches' reputations.
So despite your personal biases, focus on the games, the match-ups and the kids on the court. If you can't enjoy the games for what they are, find something else to do Saturday and Monday.
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