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Monday, March 30, 2009

College hoops dynasties are history

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Dynasties can’t exist in college basketball, not anymore.

You have Florida, with its back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, now working on a two-year streak of NIT trips.

You have UCLA, with three straight Final Four appearances snapped this year, but no titles.

You have Kentucky (no Final Fours since 1998), you have Duke (no Final Fours since 2005), and you have a mishmash of everyone else.

So this Final Four includes the two schools with maybe the best shot at being called a dynasty in the last decade of college basketball, a wild time in which we’ve seen the best players from high school forced to actually go to college, and sometimes even stay there beyond a one-and-done year.

We’ve seen recruiting change. We’ve seen far fewer of the best kids always going to the handful of schools listed above. We’ve seen teams with seniors and No. 1 seeds start to dominate, thanks to brutal schedules.

And now, in Detroit on Saturday, we’ll see a couple of schools with the best chance to be called teams of the decade, if we can stretch that decade back a year to 1999.

That’s when it began for Connecticut, with Rip Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin and Jim Calhoun leading the charge. The Huskies broke through that year, then again in 2004, with the next great recruiting class that had Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon and Rashad Anderson.

Calhoun is back, five years later, with the juniors and seniors of the next class. A.J. Price and Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet, plus a glimpse of things to come in freshman Kemba Walker, who seemed to emerge fully formed as the next great Big East point guard in the Huskies’ victory over Missouri on Saturday in Arizona.

So there is UConn on one side and North Carolina on the other. Eighteen Final Fours. This is Roy Williams’ third trip in his six seasons there, going for a title to bookend 2005.

The Tar Heels are loaded, as usual. Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington and Danny Green and Bobby Frasor, juniors and seniors everywhere, at every position, and they’ve made four NCAA Tournament opponents look inferior.

So UConn and UNC are the big dogs. And Villanova, we can all agree, is the little guy. A No. 3 seed that comes in as by far the smallest school of the four, with the most darling pedigree.

If Jay Wright’s Wildcats pull it off in Detroit, it won’t be like 1985. He has eight players who might all be significantly better than they were even just a couple of weeks ago, when they were bounced in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

We have two teams going for some sort of dynasty, and one team going for another shot at glory.

Then there’s Michigan State, which kind of fits into both categories. The Spartans don’t get much ink or love around here, but Tom Izzo’s team would fit right into the Big East, knocking down threes and not backing down from anyone. This is Izzo’s fifth Final Four in 11 seasons, starting in 1999, when UConn started its run.

Now Michigan State gets essentially a home game at Ford Field. Kalin Lucas, the star guard, grew up 10 minutes from the stadium.

“I enjoy finishing practice and the sun’s still shining,” Izzo said. “That means you’re playing at the right time of year.”

Comments

Toto_the_great 10 years, 10 months ago

Umm, no mention of Kansas?... we have 3 Final Fours since that time, oh yeah, we have that trophy-thingy with the net hanging from it from last year too.

actorman 10 years, 10 months ago

And oh yeah, we're not in the Final Four. The only non-Final Four teams he mentioned were teams that had fallen on hard times. KU doesn't fit in that category either. So there was no reason to talk about KU in this particular column.

5to6 10 years, 10 months ago

I can see his exclusion of Kansas since he's writing about the teams that made the Final Four this year. What makes me shake my head is his slobbering over UConn. He adjusts the timeline for his piece to include their first championship year, and at the end of the article he mentions Michigan State in an offhand way. Granted, UConn has two titles to MSU's one, but in that timespan MSU has been to the Final Four 5 times compared to UConn's 3, and if they win it this year they'll have the same number of titles. I think that there are definitely 3 teams "going for some sort of dynasty", not 2.

What can you say? Another day, another myopic eastern pinhead whose lips can't be separated from the Big East's backside.

slantrox 10 years, 10 months ago

East biased column the JW through in to rile the masses. Don't let it.

Paul Meyer 10 years, 10 months ago

North Carolina reached a record 18th Final Four. UCLA has been to 18, but the Bruins' 1980 appearance was later vacated by the NCAA because of rules violations. How many years later did it take the NCAA to vacate Larry Brown's 1980 UCLA team? Was this before he was hired by the Jayhawks?

And when will they vacate Calhoun's Huskies trips to the Final Four due to recruiting violations?

Jaminrawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Of course there are no dynasties anymore. Talent jumps to the NBA early now. The UCLA teams of the 1960-1970s wouldn't have won that many titles had Walton and Alcindor left after their freshmen years like most elite recruits do now. In addition to that, top programs don't horde all of the talent like they use to. When Memphis, K-State and Ohio State cut into the recruiting of KU, Kentucky, UCLA and UNC, you know times have changed.

Topside 10 years, 10 months ago

Forgive my comments as I had trouble getting by the first paragraph and a half of this drivel. What the hell does he define a dynasty as then? Other than Back-to-Back Champs which has only been done s few times or UCLA you have to give a different definiton of Dynasty to College BB. One could argue there has been only one then and thats UCLA.

Ted Toulouse 10 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, who cares about consistent success? who cares about consecutive tournament appearances and 25-win seasons against top competition? Roy Williams couldn't win anything until he got to UNC apparently. Kansas knows nothing about basketball. Obviously.

I hate the East coast.

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