“The little things is what counts” as I heard girlfriend after girlfriend utter these words and reiterate to me it’s the things people don’t see that matter the most. The kisses on the cheek, the little surprises, and the constant reminder she’s my one and only. Monday night, as the confetti fell, champagne bottles overflowed with bubbles and I witnessed Shabazz Napier fall into the company of Larry Bird, Kemba Walker, and Derrick Rose as the only players with 125+ points, 50+ assist, and 50+ rebounds in a NCAA Tournament!
The only thing I could think about was my ex-girlfriends saying, “The little things”.
It was most definitely the little things, that cost John Calipari and his super-teenage-led 8th seed Kentucky Wildcats the championship in a, 60-54 loss to the 7th Seed UCONN Huskies Monday night. UCONN’s experience in the back court surprisingly was not dominating the game, though Napier (22 points, 6 rebounds,3 assist and was the MOP of the tourney) and Ryan Boatright dominated the ball and the game with electrifying speed and big shots at crucial moments.
Like myself, you probably watched this game the only thing that stood out to you was Kentucky’s missed free throw opportunities. The inexperienced Wildcats shot a terrible 13-for-24 (52%) while UCONN flourished from the line shooting a perfect 10-for-10. John Calipari has a history of problems with freshman in the NCAA Tournament missing free throws. In 2009, as one seed, a John Wall led Wildcats lost to two seeded, West Virginia and the key to that loss? FREE THROWS! The Wildcats lost by seven and shot a terrible 16-for-29 (52%).
Kentucky’s last loss in the NCAA tournament before Monday night came back in 2011 against none other than, UCONN! In a one point loss in the Final Four, the Wildcats shot a horrendous 4-for-12 (33%) as they watched UCONN cruise to another championship and Kemba Walker elevate his status to legendary, just like Shabazz Napier (Who was on that 2011 Team) did on Monday Night!
No one will ever forget Coach Cal’s biggest disappointment on the national stage which was in the 2008 National Championship. The infamous missed free throws and Mario Chalmers best impression of Kobe Bryant was a big factor in costing Memphis and Calipari his first championship. In the end, it was the missed free throws that costs Memphis and Calipari. As a team, Memphis shot a horrible 12-for-19 (62%) from the line.
It was so ironic seeing the free throws being the deciding factor of the game in the Cats’ Sweet 16 victory vs. in-state rival Louisville Cardinals. The Cards were the ones who looked like freshman at the line while the freshmen of UK flourished at the line, hitting key free throws at crucial times.
At the end of the day, inexperience, horrid mistakes, and constantly not getting back on defense is not what cost Kentucky the championship. Calipari wasn’t out coached. The freshmen were not out played, and UCONN’s experience wasn’t the overwhelming factor in this game. It was the FREE THROWS; THE LITTLE THINGS. The fact of the matter remains. My girlfriend’s are vicariously living through the UCONN Huskies tonight! “It’s the little things that count!”