John Calipari has his Kentucky Wildcats in the national championship for the second time in three years. If his team wins another championship this year, he deserves to be considered as one of the best coaches currently in college basketball.
One could argue that Calipari is already highly regarded as one of the best coaches in the game, but until now I would have argued that he was just an outstanding recruiter with an above-average coaching ability.
If you think about it, his team should compete for a championship every season. Calipari has had either the number one or number two ranked recruiting class in each of his five seasons with the Kentucky program. Yet last season, Kentucky missed the NCAA tournament altogether.
This year, Calipari has a chance to cement his legacy as a Kentucky legend. His young team has had their fair share of growing pains this season. From being ranked first in the nation to dropping out of the rankings, this Kentucky team has battled and persevered all the way to the Final Four.
Calipari has built his team the same way his previous Final Four teams have been built. He has a nine-man rotation that is built mostly off of freshman. With the injury of Willie Cauley-Stein the Wildcats utilize an eight man rotation that features six freshman, one sophomore and one senior.
Continuing with the usual theme of Calipari’s teams, his superstar-freshman Julius Randle is predicted to be a top 3 draft pick in this year’s NBA draft. The other Kentucky freshman are also equally impressive, James Young, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Dominque Hawkins and Dakari Johnson. This crop of freshman has proved to be quite impressive in there magical March run.
Freshman Aaron Harrison has shown his uncanny ability to hit key shots to earn his team a victory. Harrison hit the game-winning three pointers in Ketucky’s Elite Eight win over Michigan and Final Four win over Wisconsin. Harrison also hit the go-ahead basket in a win over Louisville.
Freshman usually are not capable of such feats and usually crack under the pressures of March. But this crop of freshman is special, they are defying all odds and preforming at an exceptionally high level.
I think that Kentucky will beat UConn in the national championship. Shabazz Napier and UConn have had an equally impressive journey to the National championship game but I do not think that UConn has what it takes to defeat Kentucky.
Calipari has his Wildcats playing too well right now to lose to UConn. With a win on Monday night, Calipari will add his name to the top of Kentucky coaches, obviously behind the great Adolph Rupp.
The game will air Monday at 9:10 pm on CBS.