College Basketball Nation: Richard Hamilton

The players who made Calhoun a success

September, 13, 2012
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun will announce his retirement Thursday, per’s Andy Katz. Calhoun’s career spans more than 40 years. He’s sixth among Division I coaches with 873 wins. He’s won three national titles.

A variety of talented players helped him achieve those feats. Here’s a list of Calhoun’s top 10 players of all time:

  1. Reggie Lewis -- Before his tenure at Connecticut, Calhoun led Northeastern for 14 seasons. Lewis, who suffered sudden cardiac death in 1993 as a member of the Boston Celtics, averaged 24.1 points per game as a sophomore and 23.8 ppg as a junior under Calhoun. Those Northeastern squads (1984-85 and 1985-86) amassed a combined 48-14 record, won a pair of Eastern Collegiate Athletic North conference titles and reached the NCAA tournament both seasons with Lewis in charge.
  2. Richard Hamilton -- “Rip” was ridiculous in college. That entire 1998-99 squad fed off his bravado. He was relentless. And he didn’t care about anything but winning. He led Connecticut to the national title in 1999, the same year the Huskies went 34-2 and didn’t lose one road game (11-0). The Huskies also defeated a Duke squad that was one of the greatest teams to have never won a national championship. Hamilton, the 1999 Final Four’s most outstanding player, is second on Connecticut’s career scoring chart (2,036 points).
  3. [+] EnlargeUConn's Richard Hamilton and Jim Calhoun
    AP Photo/Doug MillsRichard Hamilton led Jim Calhoun and Connecticut to its first national championship.
    Ray Allen -- One of the greatest shooters in the history of the game, Allen epitomized “textbook form.” And he had that subtle cockiness you couldn’t see in interviews but that always emerged on the floor. He averaged 23.4 ppg as a junior. He was a two-time All-American shooting guard. All of this before he played Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game.”
  4. Donyell Marshall -- He always looked like he’d gotten out of bed minutes before game time. But that sleepy gaze was deceiving. Marshall might have been Calhoun’s most dominant player. He scored 855 points during the 1993-94 season (25.1 ppg), No. 1 all-time for Connecticut. He also was a consensus All-American that season who blocked 111 shots, then a high mark for the program. And he scored 42 points in two separate games.
  5. Emeka Okafor -- He’s never quite lived up to the expectations in the NBA. But during his three seasons at Connecticut (2001-04), Okafor was one of the most dominant players in the country. He was a monster on defense (his 441 career blocks are in the top 10 in NCAA history). He was a two-time national defensive player of the year and All-American. And above all, he was Calhoun’s anchor on the 2004 squad that won a national title.
  6. Kemba Walker -- Walker dazzled with an unrivaled Big East tournament performance in 2011. He scored 130 points as the Huskies defeated five teams (four of them ranked) in five days. The Huskies, losers of four of their previous five regular-season games, limped into that tourney but managed to grab the crown once Walker donned his cape. And he didn’t stop there. It was just the start of an 11-game winning streak that concluded with the Huskies winning the 2010-11 national championship. Walker also is seventh all-time on Connecticut’s career scoring list (1,783 points).
  7. Chris Smith -- The program’s career scoring leader (2,145 points in four years) led the Huskies to the Elite Eight in 1990 and a 31-win season three years after Calhoun kicked off his term with a 9-19 campaign. In his career, Smith led the team in scoring three times and assists twice. Smith is a legend based on his stats but also because the Bridgeport, Conn., native stayed home and played a key role as Calhoun built the program.
  8. Cliff Robinson -- He turned the headband into a fashion statement with the Portland Trailblazers. But before his lengthy pro career, Robinson led Connecticut to the NIT title in 1988. He averaged 15.3 ppg during a three-year career. He was the leading scorer on Calhoun’s first squad during the 1986-87 season. A year later, the Huskies had won 11 more games (20-14) than they had the previous season thanks in part to Robinson’s 17.6 ppg and 6.9 rebounds per game.
  9. Ben Gordon -- Gordon was Okafor’s counterpart on the 2004 national title team. He was small (6-foot-3), but strong and aggressive. Gordon finished his career with 1,795 points, sixth all-time for Connecticut. He’s also second all-time in made 3-pointers (246). Okafor earned most outstanding player honors in the 2004 Final Four, but Gordon’s 127 points (21.2 ppg) led the field.
  10. Khalid El-Amin -- The Minneapolis product played three seasons for Calhoun, and ended his career with 1,650 points, 10th in program history, and sixth all-time in steals (186). On the floor, he was the aggressive point guard who helped guide the Huskies to the national title in 1999. In his final season with the program (1999-2000), he averaged 16 ppg and 5.2 assists per game.

Davis, Withey will host block party in final

April, 1, 2012
For the first time, all three Final Four games will be regular-season rematches. Kentucky beat Kansas, 75-65, at Madison Square Garden back on Nov. 15.

Monday’s national championship game will be the third meeting between the Wildcats and Jayhawks in the NCAA tournament. In 1999, Kentucky beat Kansas in the Round of 32, 92-88. Kansas won the other meeting in 2007, 88-76, also in the Round of 32.

Kentucky was the selection committee’s top overall seed, marking only the third time since 2004 -- when the committee began ranking the four No. 1 seeds -- that the top overall seed reached the title game. In 2005, Illinois lost in the final and the 2007 Florida Gators won the national championship.

Kansas head coach Bill Self won his first title four years ago, beating John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this will be the first time in exactly 50 years (and third time overall) that the national title game will feature a rematch between coaches who have previously met in the national title game.

In 1962, Cincinnati's Ed Jucker beat Ohio State's Fred Taylor for the second straight season. In 1953, Indiana's Branch McCracken beat Phog Allen of Kansas -- just as he had done in 1940.

There will be two AP First-Team, All-Americans on the court Monday: Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis and Kansas junior Thomas Robinson. Since seeding began in 1979, this will be only the fourth national championship game with two First-Team All-Americans on the court, and the first time since 1999 (Duke’s Elton Brand and Connecticut’s Richard Hamilton).

Davis, the AP Player of the Year, has blocked 11 shots in Kentucky's last two games. This season he has 180 blocked shots, two shy of Hassan Whiteside’s freshman single-season record set in 2009-10.

For the 2012 Men’s Basketball Championship, Davis has blocked 18 shots in the paint and altered another 23.

Davis also is one of only three players, along with Joakim Noah (2006) and Kevin Love (2008), to score at least 75 points, grab 50 rebounds and block at least 20 shots in a single NCAA tournament (since blocked shots became an official stat in 1985-86).

In this tournament, however, Davis has been outdone by Kansas’ Jeff Withey, who blocked a Final Four record seven shots against Ohio State. What’s more, Withey kept each of his blocked shots in bounds, and has kept all but 15 of his 136 blocks this season in bounds

Withey has blocked 27 shots in the 2012 NCAA tournament, two shy of the single-tournament record set by Noah in 2006.

Finally, if the Wildcats beat the No. 2 seeded Jayhawks, they will be the fourth straight team to win the national title without having played a No. 1 seed. From 1979 to 2008, only six teams won it all without having to play a No. 1 seed along the way.