That was the best college basketball game I've ever seen last night. I can't wait to get into the office, three hours late because I woke up pretty late and had to finish this column, and gather around the mochaccino machine and just gush with everyone -- even people who normally hate sports -- about how this was one for the ages, something the experts say had never happened before and almost certainly won't ever happen again. And there are so many reasons why they're right. Let's run through a few, why don't we:
Teamwork! All season long, we've been hearing about who scored some crazy number of points, and arguments about which of those obscenely high scorers is gonna be player of the year, and talking heads praising these guys, basically, for being all selfish and totally uncaring of their teammates. None of that out there last night. No sir. Basketball isn't about one guy scoring 50; it's about a lot of guys scoring two, or five, or if they really want to be a teammate-alienating ballhog, 16. These guys care about each other enough to not score, and that's just something you don't see enough of these days.
Defense! Everyone loves defense. It's what wins championships, according to coaches and the t-shirts they make their players wear while doing three-man weaves. Which, incidentally, are another thing everyone loves, especially when those Globetrotters guys do it with such pizazz. Man those guys can ball. What consummate entertainers! Hmm, they don't play defense, you say? Well, there you have it. That's exactly why they weren't in the championship game last night.
Plucky freshman growing up in front of our eyes! This is indisputably one of the best things about college basketball. We see these kids become men, both on the court and off it, as they go through four seasons of hardship. Unless they're actually quite good at basketball and disappear from college early, in which case, they're clearly grown up enough to make their own decisions as men. Last night, we saw UConn's impossibly overmatched squad -- basically a bunch of freshmen and sophomores with a couple juniors and a senior -- grow up in a single game, to take down a Butler team with so much more experience at playing in awesomely low-scoring defensive clashes like this. And just imagine how good that big white kid with the zits will be once he finishes puberty and grows to his full height!
Smart kids can win championships! Well, not actually win, but get there and kinda almost win. And also, not the actual really smart ones. But kids who play very much like smart kids can almost maybe win a championship. People are always ragging on the Princetons and Harvards and Browns, who I'm pretty sure has a team, and saying their plodding pace, and aversion to one-on-one play due to lack of athleticism, and general inability to score the basketball will always stop them from truly excelling. No more! Or at least, almost no more.
Jim Calhoun finally gets a break! People aren't always the nicest to Jim Calhoun. So he likes sending high school kids text messages to let them know he's interested in them. So what? Lord knows high school kids love getting text messages. Plus, it shows he believes in old-school honest recruiting, when he could easily cheat and start Skypeing, Twittering, Facebooking, FaceTiming, or FourSquaring them, although I'm not even sure how that last one would work. Regardless, it was good to see him sitting at that press podium in front of all those guys who hate him because he's more popular and texts all the time, and consider almost smiling for once.