2014 Fun Final Four Team Roster Facts

 

 

Final Four appearances by coach.  Bold = championships:

  • John Calipari: 5 (1996, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Number of teams Calipari has taken to the Final Four: 3 (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky)
  • Number of appearances vacated by NCAA violations: 2 – (1996, 2008)
  • Billy Donovan: 4 (2000, 2006, 2007, 2014) all with Florida
  • Bo Ryan: 1 (2014) Wisconsin
  • Kevin Ollie: 1 (2014) UConn
  • Number of 7 footers at the big dance:  4 – Kentucky (2), Wisconsin (1), UConn (1), Florida (0)
  • Team with most homegrown players:  Florida (8)
  • Team with most International players:  UConn 4 (Ghana, Jamaica, Germany (2))
  • Teams with no international players: Kentucky and Wisconsin
  • Team with 3 players from Brooklyn:  UConn
  • All American team: Kentucky with 9 players from different states.
  • Only team to finish 1st in conference play:  Florida (SEC)

Let the dance begin!

 

28 Points – Frank “Wassily” Kaminsky

Points - Kandinsy

Points – Kandinsy

I had Arizona advancing to the Final Four, not Wisconsin.  In fact, I had the Badgers losing to Creighton (Barrel) in the Sweet 16.  When I made my picks for the West region, I did so without having seen any of the teams play during the regular season.  So I went by hunch and history.  The last time Wisconsin won a championship was in 1941, when the field was just 8 teams, one of the 8 included Creighton. My parents were just 2 years old. 1941 was the year FDR began his third term and WWII was heating up in Europe and Africa.  The last time Wisconsin made the Final Four was the year 2000 when they danced with the eventual champion Michigan State, runner up Florida and North Carolina.

Had I known just how good a team Wisconsin had, I might have picked them to take the crown this year.  They exemplify what it means to be a team – great passing, solid defense, consistent shooting and dominant center play.  And DOMINANT is the word to describe 7’0 Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky, the Junior from Lisle, (the crocodile) Illinois, a Western suburb of Chicago.  And he was the difference maker with points, and lots of them, in Wisconsin’s OT victory over Arizona, a victory that provoked riots where the streets have no name in Arizona.

When I first heard the name Kaminsky, I thought it was Kandinsky.  I was thinking that it was kind of neat that Wisconsin had a player who might be the great grandson of the Russian painter, Kandinsky. I remember as a young lad, not much older than Frank Kaminsky himself, I visited NYC for the first time and went to the Guggenheim Museum to pay tribute to its architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. While I was impressed with the odd building that looked like something Sun Ra might have designed, a cross between a parking garage and a concrete UFO, I was equally impressed with the Kandinsky exhibit.  I remember buying a postcard of one his works and posting it on the wall of my off campus apartment in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  One of his most interesting works, “Points”, is an apt description of Frank Kaminsky’s contribution in last night’s victory – 28 to be exact – after which he was named the West Region’s MVP.

Pitino Has The Edge Over Calipari

And then there were 4.  And not the most surprising 4.  A number 1, 2 2s and a 4.  We’ve got a nifty city state match up in Louisville(4) Kentucky(1) with a compelling coaching subplot between Calipari and Pitino.

Calipari and Pitino coached teams have meet 15 times over the years.  With UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky, Calipari’s record is 7-8 versus Pitino’s Kentucky and Louisville teams.  Coach Cal is 7-4 in regular season games against Pitino, however, he’s 0-4 in post season games.  As the coach of Memphis, Calipari lost to Pitino’s Louisville teams in the Conference USA tournament twice.  And in NCAA play as the coach of UMASS, Coach Cal lost to Pitino coached Kentucky teams in 1992 in the Sweet 16 and in the 1996 Final Four Semifinal game. Their meeting Saturday will be a rematch. Clearly, Calipari has an ax to grind and something to prove.

Can Calipari avenge his post season loses to Pitino? Possibly, but it’s not a slam dunk.  The X factor in my mind will be the mascots – Wildcat and Cardinal.  Normally, a cat gets the better of the bird, but a cardinal is not just any bird.  Related to the jay bird and a member of the crow family, cardinals are mean, menacing birds.  They are loud, relentless and among the most intelligent birds on the planet – ok, I just made that up, but they might be.   I do know this: wildcats do not like to be harassed, they don’t, and will quickly become frustrated, distracted and fatigued by a swooping, heckling bird.  Advantage goes to the Cardinals and the master coach, who like the cardinal, seems to have a knack for getting into his rival’s head in games that count.