Like the men’s NCAA final the previous evening, there was no drama in Tuesday night’s women’s basketball final. There was, however, perfection.
Behind Maya Moore, the kid from Collins Hill High and unquestionably the best player in women’s college basketball, Connecticut (39-0) completed its third unbeaten season with another national championship.
UConn’s predictable 76-54 rout of Louisville gives coach Geno Auriemma his sixth NCAA title. It also gives Huskies men’s coach Jim Calhoun — who already has enough health and NCAA inquiry concerns of his own, and who’ll never be carpool buddies with Geno — a little more agita.
No, Mark Fox wasn’t on anyone’s radar before being named Georgia’s new men’s basketball coach. But yes, this guy can coach, recruit, X-and-O and even succeed in the loaded SEC East. Florida’s Billy Donovan, Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl and, especially, Kentucky’s John Calipari be damned.
In the opening week of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, I saw Fox’s first Nevada team play twice in Indianapolis — first winning easily to reach the second round, then nearly toppling a No. 1 seed, Illinois. The Wolf Pack was very well-coached, athletic, smart, fiery and undaunted by the Illini, undefeated and ranked No. 1 all year until the regular-season finale. Illinois didn’t lose again until the NCAA title game, by three to North Carolina.
Still, Nevada, led by big man Nick Fazekas (whom Fox recruited as the top assistant to Trent Johnson, now the head coach at LSU via Stanford), went 25-7 and won a second straight WAC title.
After romancing Mike Anderson (who signed a new 7-year contract to remain at Missouri) and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel (who also received a king’s ransom extension to stay put), UGA athletic director Damon Evans made a fine hire in Fox — as evidenced by the $2 million buyout clause in Fox’s contract. Just be patient, Dawgs. This guy can win.
And, speaking of Calipari — who, while coaching unbeaten Memphis in the 2008 tournament, committed the greatest coaching gaffe in an NCAA final since, well, ever? — the eight-year, $31.65 million contract he signed with Kentucky is relatively more obscene than what the Yankees spent on their Billion Dollar Baby of a ballpark and three high-priced, over-priced free agents.
Economic downturn? Calamity? Recession? Not, apparently, in Lexington, Ky.