Monday, March 28, 2011
Perfect mix creates Kentucky legend
By Dana O'Neil
NEWARK, N.J. -- Clutching the regional trophy tight to his hip, Josh Harrellson stood amid the din of the Prudential Center, shaking his head in wonder.
This, he knew, wasn't supposed to happen. Not to him, certainly, and not to this team.
Kentucky was supposed to go to the Final Four a year ago, riding some of the best freshman talent ever assembled in one place.
That's long been John Calipari's game plan. He has built a career shredding the complexities of the college basketball game into one simple tenet: He who has the most talent wins.
And for the most part, his theory works. Calipari's teams win at a blistering rate, stockpiling victories like milk during a blizzard before the talent bolts for the greener pastures of NBA paychecks.
So how, then, to explain this: Harrellson, a guy who averaged all of 1.3 points per game last season, is going to the Final Four and DeMarcus Cousins didn't. DeAndre Liggins, a guy everyone told Calipari to run off when he took over for Billy Gillispie, hit the decisive bucket in the Wildcats' 76-69 win over North Carolina and not John Wall.
If basketball were a morality play, the moral at the end of this story might read simply: Talent isn't always enough.