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Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 at 12:22 am  |  31 responses

UConn Defeats Butler to Win Third NCAA Title

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

The game itself may not have been memorable, but what Kemba Walker and Connecticut did this season will be hard to forget. The Huskies defeated Butler 53-41 on Monday to win their third NCAA title since 1999.

Just one year after missing the NCAA tournament all together, UConn’s improbable run this season will be remembered for two people: Walkerand Jim Calhoun.

Walker first captivated the country with his performance at the Maui Invitational and brought our attention back to the Huskies when they won five games in five days to capture the Big East tournament crown. In the NCAA tournament he has been equally as exciting and wrapped up the season with 16 points and 9 rebounds in the title game, winning the Most Outstanding Player.

For Calhoun, a season that was full of controversy due to recruiting violations now also ends with his third NCAA title. He is the oldest coach to win an NCAA title and shares the distinction of being one of only five coaches with three championships, along with John Wooden, Bob Knight, Adolph Rupp and Mike Krzyzewski.

The difference for UConn on Monday and perhaps the reason the team was able to get to the next level, though, was Jeremy Lamb. After his team trailed 22-19 at the half, Lamb sparked a Husky rally by scoring all 12 of his points in the second half.

For Butler, there was no perfect ending to its two-year storybook run. An ugly offensive showing left the Bulldogs just 12-for-64 from the field, including 3-for-31 inside the arc. Their 41 points were the lowest scored by a team in the championship since 1946. Butler also becomes the first team since Michigan in 1992 and 1993 to lose consecutive title games.

But while Butler’s run will be talked about for years, UConn’s is even more impressive. What started the season as an unranked, one-man team slowly grew into the nation’s best. Even as recent as a month ago, few thought the Huskies, who finished ninth in the Big East, could make any noise in March.

As the dust finally settles on UConn, we are left with a team that did not lose a game out of conference and won all three tournaments it played in. Improbable? Yes, but at this point we should have expected a win on Monday.

In the middle of it all, of course, was a man named Kemba. Not since Danny Manning and Kansas in 1988 has one player willed his team to a title like Walker. His career in Storrs is likely over, but his legend in college basketball lore is only beginning.

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  • DNz15′s

    not a very exciting game

  • add

    congrats to uconn

  • ratguts

    I mean, I’m at work and the game was so boring I barely slacked off enough to watch it.

  • El_Black_Mamba

    Womans championship game will probably be more entertaining than the mens

  • http://www.slamonline.com Mars

    Not to take anything away from the last 3 Champs but, this is what happens when you impliment a one-and-done system. This was by far the most average looking game ever. Even the powerhouse looked pedestrian. UNC? Kentucky? Kansas? Duke? Ohio State? SMH. wtf??? Start paying student(lol)-athletes and the game won’t suffer.

  • Riggs

    riiight because thats what coulve made yesterdays game exciting. money. I liked the game and i loved the huskies D in the second half they pretty much shut down butler.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    That had to be the worst shooting championship game I’ve ever seen. But I’m just happy the chip went to a Big East team. All the haters, especially the good folks of the ACC, can shut up now.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    What a run by UCONN.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    I guess I’m one of the few that actually enjoyed watching the game. No it wasn’t a great offensive game, but to quote the great Rasheed Wallace, “both teams played hard!” They were out there scrapping and playing defense, the refs let them play and the game came down to making tough shots and execution. Kudos to UConn for capping that great run and kudos to Brad Stevens and Butler making it back to the title game.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Seriously that was awful, Butler looked completely overmatched, hopefully the prospect of being coached by Stevens will bring in some better recruits, because I’d love to see what he can do with some better talent.

  • http://www.slamonline.com c_cantrell

    didnt really enjoy the game alot and in a way feel like we are all so spoiled from watching terrific basketball that when we see a game completely defined with defense, determination, and desire with a side not so amazing offense that we really dont appreciate it near as much.. but this was a scrappy game of pure hustle.. gotta show some love when the players are willing to get thier hands dirty n work thier asses off

  • HAMMER

    Wasn’t a thrilling game. It was an ugly game. Even tho I was pulling 4 Butler, I got no prob w/Uconn winning. And much props 2 Jeremy Lamb. Hopefully he stays. Congrats 2 Uconn

  • HAMMER

    Last time a Big East team won it all was ’04. By who? Uconn. In that same span of time, the ACC has won it 3 times. So it was bout effin time a Big East team won it

  • 2dope

    @Hammer. Difference is Uconn wins with players overlooked by the mighty ACC. Duke and UNC get all the players every year so it’s to be expected that they win. You’re telling me Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriaki were highly recruited by ACC universities?

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    @ 2dope a lot of kids on Big East teams are from the region, so I actually prefer that other coonfrences overlook them. I’d rather root for area kids at near by schools than to root for schools like Duke and Carolina, who get a lot of their best players from all over. That’s why it’s always sweet to watch them go down.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    *confrences

  • http://twitter.com/smk73 smk73

    UConn went back to the archives and dusted off the old Rip Hamilton screens for Lamb in the second half. Somewhere Tate George is smiling.

  • HAMMER

    @2dope. I wouldn’t say the ACC overlooked some of the players. Im pretty sure that they recruited some of them. Besides, personally I put teams like Uconn and Syracuse on the elite level like UNC and Duke. Year in and year out it seems like Uconn and Syracuse r n the discussion 2 win the national championship. 2 me it is surprising that the Big East doesn’t produce more title teams than it has

  • In other news

    They just announced on espn that Kimba’s not entering the draft. He’s signing with the Miami heat

  • ernied

    Very happy for UConn. This one is sweeter than them beating Duke or Georgia Tech, because they were not expected to go anywhere in the tournament. Better UConn teams did worse in the past, but it just goes to show you how impressive the tournament is. Lots of upsets of teams that would have been a much tougher opponent. Kemba Walker is the man!

  • T-Money

    GTFOH witht that great defense and all hustle BS. These guys could not make shots, period. Butler missed countless of shots at the rim and had plenty of looks from deep with enough daylight. They just kept missing over and over again. Only positive: that Napier-Lamb backcourt is going to be smoove next year.

  • JoeMaMa

    Congrats to UConn, but this was more about Butler losing the game than UConn winning it. Butler missed open shots, lay ups, put backs, short hooks, open 3s. They got the looks they wanted, but didn’t convert. I hesitate to call it ‘choking’, because the shots were in the rhythm of the offense, but man….what happened to Butler?!

  • ClydeSays

    Nice win by UConn. Sure, it wasn’t pretty. Both teams looked tired. Got to give Calhoun and Walker credit for leading a bunch of freshman to the title game & winning it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com c_cantrell

    tmoney if you say that the defense in that game was not very good… then i only hope someone can teach you the fundamentals of basketball

  • http://http//portlandfan1203.blogspot.com Karley

    Terrible game. 19 percent shooting. Not even a good game to watch but i mean they still won the Championship game which is great just a vert ugly game.

  • http://bigleaguewiffleball.com/ Jon

    Congrats to UConn even though it was a terrible game. It was boring with the lack of scoring and it’s amazing how Butler could only make 12 shots all game. They didn’t even make a shot inside the paint until 3/4 into the game!

  • T-Money

    so butler shot 18% because uconn had more “determination”, “desire” and “hustle” than any team they had faced in the tournament? ok then.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    18% shooting – defense is irrelevant, they cracked under the pressure, plain and simple. I’ve scored over 40 in a game, myself. even in HS we never struggled like that. In high school. – if you bring up defense again please explain how the actual basket has changed? because no defense can force a team to shoot 1 for 5 for 40 straight minutes.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Congrats to both teams for making it this far.

  • Bryan

    Will Calhoun retire now? Hes old and has a lot of allegations against him. If he was smart his old , dirty ass would just ride off into the sunset before it catches up to him

  • EC

    If butler was shooting at tupac in ’96 he’d still be alive

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