Connecticut shuts down Butler to win championship

A quick look at Connecticut’s 53-41 win over Butler to capture its third national championship in school history:

How the game was won: Defense, defense, defense. Connecticut held Butler to 12 of 64 from the floor (18.8 percent). It set the record for worst shooting performance in a title game. Shabazz Napier led an outstanding perimeter defense that forced the Bulldogs to take tough shots. Even when Butler was able to get the ball past the perimeter, Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu controlled the inside, only allowing one basket in the paint. To show how dominant Connecticut was inside, the Huskies outrebounded the Bulldogs 51-40 and also had more blocks (10-2).

Big East Vindication: For the first time since Connecticut won in 2004, and also the first time since the inception of the 16 team Big East, the conference boasts a national champion. The Big East came under some criticism this season for getting 11 teams picked to the field of 68, but only having Connecticut advance past the Elite 8. The win should silence some of the critics for now.

Calhoun’s company: Bob Knight. John Wooden. Adolph Rupp. Mike Krzyzewski. Those are the only four coaches in the history of college basketball to win three or more titles. With wins in 1999 and 2004, and now, 2011, Jim Calhoun has joined that short list. Calhoun was already regarded as one of the top coaches in college basketball. And now he has another reason to claim the title as best Big East coach from SU coach Jim Boeheim. Let the debate continue.

Quote to Note: “They truly were brothers, they truly were trusting in each other, and that was very, very special.” – Calhoun during his post game press conference.

Star gazing: Kemba Walker scored 16 points and was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He wasn’t particularly sharp on Monday, shooting 5 for 19 from the field, but he had help from Oriakhi (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Jeremy Lamb (12 points, seven rebounds). It was a dreadful night for Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. The two players that led the Bulldogs to the title game scored a combined 20 points on 5-for-28 shooting from the field.

Unsung hero: All season long, Niels Giffey floated in and out of Calhoun’s rotation, playing just 24 minutes combined in the dance. But Giffey came off the bench to provide 24 key minutes, playing excellent defense, while scoring four points and collecting six rebounds.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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