By Stefan Anderson
The 2015 NCAA Men’s basketball final was the most compelling final that I have seen since the infamous Memphis meltdown/Kansas comeback in 2008, for many reasons as the game showcased this evening.
Who’s the best big man in the Country? Frank Kaminsky versus Jahlil Okafor Part II, went in favor of “the Tank” similar to the Player of the Year award. Kaminsky lived up to the praise that has been given to the upperclassmen finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds against the Chicago native. The Wisconsin senior exposed the holes in the potential lottery pick’s game by drawing him out to the perimeter while using his array of post moves to keep Okafor off the floor with foul trouble and controlling the paint throughout the night.
Guard Play: Although Wisconsin got his win in the post, their guard play could not contain the play of the blossoming Grayson Allen and the poised Tyus Jones. The Apple Valley, Minnesota product put together another tough outing against Wisconsin again. In the previous meeting, Jones exploded for 22 points, 4 assists and six rebounds and concluded his freshman season with 23 points that included 2 huge three pointers and a perfect 7-7 from behind the stripe. Duke’s guards combined to outscore Wisconsin guards 45-12.
One Shining Moment: After the departure of senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon ,due to disciplinary actions, Duke went on an astonishing 18 out of 19 en route to sweeping up the National Championship. The loss of Sulaimon also made Coach K and company transition to a 8-man rotation that offered Matt Jones, Marshall Plumee and Grayson Allen to have more defiant roles on the roster. Allen made the most of his opportunity showing that the future of Duke will be secure with him at the helm. Down 9 with no offensive output from his Blue Devils teamates, the freshman engineered an 8-0 run that brought Duke within 4 for fellow diaper dandy Tyus Jones to take over.
The Glue Guys: With Okafor and Winslow on the bench with foul trouble players like Matt Jones and the unsung hero Amile Jefferson , who stats will not show on the box score, made all the glue plays that gave Duke their first championship since 2010.The defensive pressure of the Blue Devils were the cause of holding one of the 2015 tournament’s invigorating players Sam Dekker to 12 points on a tough 6-15 attempts.
Fairy Tale Ending: Fresh off a first round exit to Mercer in the 2014 tournament, Coach K went and coached a group of players for the USA’s World Championship team that have propelled MVP candidates Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis, while inspiring the progression of players like Klay Thompson, Demar Derozan and Demarcus Cousins. Then following with the challenge of coaching a youthful roster that included four new freshmen and combine them with the leadership of Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson. On the way to introducing to conquering the 1,000 win accolade, the Duke Head Coach had to face a lot of great opponents in non-conference play and in ACC play, which set the Blue Devils to be poised when facing adversity come tournament time. Now that Coach K has received his fifth national championship, he has put himself of a class of his own as the only NCAA Men’s head coach with 5 titles only trailing the great John Wooden, who has ten. The Army grad has now made his already impressive resume look better as he finished his 2015 season in the way possible.