Sunday, March 13, 2011
Kemba Walker Provides Wonderful Feel for Madness with Astonishing Finish
If you discovered or embraced a monumental night on Broadway, a beautiful finish to a feel-good tale, it's because you witnessed an epic conference championship series, one of those unforgettable events of March.
It was an appetizer leading to March Madness, one of the loudest and wildest basketball tournaments in sports, and with the madness ever so closer, we saw what a star from the UConn Huskies is capable of producing to increasingly heighten the intensity and exhilaration.
This was an indicator to specify how virtuous and transcendent Kemba Walker is with madness quickly approaching, albeit the scandal sort of blinded the delightful journey the Huskies are enjoying this season. It's now just a matter of Walker, who is a proficient star destined to lead Connecticut in an ambitious, meaningful NCAA tournament, delivering in the tourney when competition is astounding on the road to the Final Four, on the road to a national title for a school with the notoriety for sensational conquests.
On this night, inside the Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous venue, it happened instantly for Walker earlier in the week at the beginning of the Big East tourney. And then, by the end of an improbable run, he was the most valuable essential for the Huskies' unbelievable 69-66 win to beat Louisville in the Big East championship game Saturday night. The moment would belong to Walker, an extraordinary 6'1" junior guard, for leading the ninth-seeded Huskies to cap arguably the greatest five days a top player and team might have ever witnessed in college basketball.
It's almost as if a dream was impossible, but suddenly turned into reality and spectators were alerted at the Garden as Walker absorbed the spotlight in New York City when it was supposed to acknowledge St. John's recent success. He was, even with hardly any applause in the conference tourney, the reliable star on the hardwood in such a well-respected venue, reinstalling life in the heart and soul of a troubled program.
Andrea Walker watched her son finish the game for the Huskies and exhaled when he jubilated with his teammates on a grand night to win five games in five days, emotionally and physically exhausted. The town belongs to Walker, a kid who was raised in the projects and played on the playgrounds. In early childhood, when he was religiously devoted to the game, he always dreamed of playing in the Garden one day. He was finally given an opportunity to conquer a lifelong ambition and, in the end, his mother breathed and smiled, moved by her son's natural abilities to direct his teammates to a triumphant championship.
"I'm out of words," said Walker, who was fatigued in the end. "I can't describe it. It's just so special but I knew we could do it. I knew it."
Walker is a sensational player and has not finished developing into a stud, but it's precisely elementary to praise him for a breakout season, particularly in the Big East tournament, an event of borderline improbability and unpredictability to urge bracketologists to pencil in UConn as a Final Four favorite.
The optimism is felt and noticed in Storrs, where an ecstatic fan base worships basketball, devoid of a major professional franchise but fortunate to have a top-ranking program known for a successful March nearly each season. It's fine for Jim Calhoun, UConn veteran head coach, to trust in Walker to lead the Huskies to the highest level, charmingly for a chance to embrace grandeur. One of the kind benefits UConn is lucky to comprise of is clearly Walker's presence, a resemblance of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
While Walker is a clutch performer with a leadership mentality, scoring 19 points and forcing defensive meltdowns to contribute in Connecticut's game-winning shot on Saturday, the Huskies aren't expected to survive a field of 68 teams. But it would be inevitable not to pencil them in as the improbable underdogs when, in all honesty, they can shimmer in the tourney and dazzle with the aid of Walker's amazing creativity, which at times seems more creative than Apple releasing the latest iPods or iPhones.
The Huskies, as the No. 9 seed in the tourney, remained firm and fantastically accomplished a consequential mark that had never been done before, keeping afloat with five wins in five days to attain a major-conference title. It is, however, a journey that began Tuesday with a win over DePaul and resumed Wednesday with a victory over Georgetown. By Thursday, Walker crossed Pittsburgh's Gary McGhee and eventually he was sent to the floor and allowed Walker to nail the game-winning step-back jump shot to beat Pittsburgh, a shot that will eternally feature on flashbacks on five-day activity.
It's now fitting to excel when UConn will be forced to miss out on the first three Big East Conference games next season in the aftermath of the revelations of infamously contemptible infractions. Every single possession, he orchestrated plays unselfishly for his teammates, which he was very unselfish in sharing the ball and created opportunities for himself as well until the game was over. His work ethic, perseverance, creativity and proficiency gloriously shifted the momentum the Huskies' way, not once losing its mojo to outlast every Big East opponent.
At game's end, the Huskies were crowned champions and Calhoun pumped his fist, proud of his team's accomplishments. Bear-hugs were exchanged and every UConn player rallied around the star of the game, Walker. Everybody was celebratory, except Walker, who was celebratory but not as much as his players. He was exhausted, out of breath and seemed ready to hit the bed for a good night's sleep. He walked off the floor slowly to eventually be the athlete every reporter was eager to chat with in the news conference.
"Now that the tournament is over I can tell you that I was definitely tired," said Walker. "With about two minutes left, I was gassed. But I just wanted to win this game so bad that, you know, my heart took over."
It's certainly normal for the finest player in college hoops to be tired when he relatively played with heart and much vitality and posted 26 points in the opening round against DePaul, dropped 28 the following night after pummeling Georgetown and scored 24 points over top-ranked Pittsburgh. And now, he easily shattered the Big East tournament scoring record with a staggering 130 points as UConn defeated four Top 25 teams in five days. It should come as no surprise that he's elevated his candidacy for National Player of the Year honors.
Better yet, it brought national regards to the Huskies, generating premature madness.