Friday, March 11, 2011

Can UCONN Win the Big East? Kemba Says Yes

Can UCONN steal the Big East Tournament?
That is the question I have been asking myself since they walked off the floor after a convincing victory over the favored Georgetown Hoyas yesterday, their 2nd win in a s many days at MSG.

When it comes to conference tournament play some programs always rise to the occasion, but without the right leader on the sideline and on the court your program aura can only take you so far in a tournament that is stacked with contenders like the big east.

UCONN took it's second step towards being that team that could steal this tournament as they have both the sideline leader and floor general along with that aura to make a serious run at what has once again become the tournament of all tournaments during championship week.

Jim Calhoun is no stranger to this tournament and has a knack for getting his kids ready at just the right time. Bottom line, Calhoun is a big game coach and the coach with the second longest tenure in this powerhouse conference. Yesterday’s out right beat down of Georgetown is a great example of his ability to game plan and motivate.

Then there is the on court floor general, Kemba Walker. The player that should have been the Big East player of year (no disrespect to Ben Hansbrough) now appears to be playing with a chip on his shoulder as well. As I sat in my seat watching him score 28 points and control the game against the Hoyas it took my mind back to 2006 when Gerry McNamara lead Syracuse on a shocking and heart stopping run to the big east tournament championship. Sure, Gerry Mac shot the heck out of the basketball but he raised the level of everyone around him and eventually he had the entire garden in Orange delirium. That is what the great leaders find a way to do. That is what Kemba Walker appears to be doing as UCONN roles into Thursday to face Pitt at Noon.

Pittsburgh is lead by a backcourt featuring New Jersey native, Aston Gibbs and senior Brad Wanamaker will be tasked with slowing Walker today. During their previous matchup in December Walker burned the Panthers for 31 points and 5 steals, but it was Pittsburgh who was victorious on their home court.

Today is different, and on neutral and hallow big east basketball ground it will be the team that raises it’s level as one unit that will continue to march on towards the conference tournament championship. Walker and UCONN seem to have that very look necessary to keep playing. As we have learned in March, anything is possible.

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