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Behind DiVincenzo’s 31 Points, Villanova Wins Third National Championship

By Aidan Wilkins | @AidanJWilkins

Sports Capital Journalism Program

SAN ANTONIO — Villanova head coach Jay Wright had just cut down the net. He smiled as he gazed toward the crowd. He pumped his right fist just once, as if signaling that the job was done. His Villanova Wildcats had just captured their second national title in three seasons with a dominating 79-62 victory over the Michigan Wolverines.

“I never dreamt of this,” Wright said.

Villanova’s triumph was built upon a historic performance by the Wildcats.

Aside from the UCLA dynasty, with its 10 championships in 12 seasons from 1964 through 1975, Villanova became the ninth team to win two titles within three seasons or less, the first since Florida’s repeat champions in 2006 and 2007.

Continue reading Behind DiVincenzo’s 31 Points, Villanova Wins Third National Championship

The ‘Michael Jordan of Delaware’ Has a Championship Ring To It

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

Sports Capital Journalism Program

SAN ANTONIO — Covered in confetti and a piece of the nylon net tied to his backwards championship hat, Donte DiVincenzo, the unlikely Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, was still standing on the court where he had just led his Villanova Wildcats to a national championship. He wiped sweat from his eyes before offering the only words that could come to mind.

“This is incredible,” he said.

His 31 points became the most scored by a non-starter in the national championship game, surpassing the previous mark of 22 by Luke Hancock in Louisville’s 2013 victory over Michigan. By halftime, DiVincenzo, a redshirt sophomore from Wilmington, Del., had matched his previous 2018 tournament-high of 18 points to help the Wildcats to a nine-point lead.

DiVincenzo started just 10 of his team’s 40 games this season and averaged 13.0 points. “We had a lot of guys that grew as players this year,” said redshirt junior Phil Booth. “We had some guys get hurt, and players got valuable minutes. Donte was one of them.”

Continue reading The ‘Michael Jordan of Delaware’ Has a Championship Ring To It

Postcards from San Antonio: When A Hall of Fame Announcement Connects to Childhood

He did it. Ray Allen will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2018. This is obviously a much-deserved honor as Allen is, in my opinion, the greatest pure shooter in the history of basketball.

However, when I hear the name Ray Allen, I am still not sure how to feel as a fan.

If you should know even one thing about me, you should know I am a MASS-IVE Boston sports fan. I eat, sleep, breathe, and live it.

That’s why my view on Ray Allen’s career is so conflicted.

My career as an NBA fan began an incredible time, Danny Ainge had pulled off one of the greatest off-seasons in NBA history, adding both Allen and Kevin Garnett to a Celtics team that already had Paul Pierce (and Rajon Rondo, who I feel similarly confused about).

Watching the 2007-08 Celtics was an amazing experience as a young fan. Allen constantly hitting 3-pointers made him an easy favorite. That year, he helped bring an NBA Championship to Beantown after discarding the much-hated rival Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Besides bringing home the title, my next favorite Allen moment occurred during Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals, also against the Lakers. Allen hit seven consecutive 3-pointers. S-e-v-e-n. He would finish with an NBA Finals record eight for the game.

I remember popping up from the couch after each dagger. It was one of the most shocking performances I had seen.

Ray’s following seasons in Boston were turbulent, clashing with Rondo while also appearing in multiple trade rumors.

Then in July 2012, my fandom of Ray Allen ended. Allen signed with the new Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in Miami.

Looking back, what Allen did made total sense. Join a new super team. Live in Miami. Play with the second-best player in NBA history in James (behind the immortal Bill Russell). Live in Miami. Get away from Rondo and Doc Rivers. Live in Miami. What more could an NBA veteran want in his final run?

Moving on after a breakup is never easy. But watching the announcement that will lead to his enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame reminded me to appreciate what Ray Allen has meant to my fanhood for both the Celtics and basketball.

Congrats, Ray, on a great career and reaching the zenith of the basketball world.

By Aidan Wilkins | @AidanJWilkins

 

Watching Steve Nash and Jason Kidd being officially announced as members of the 2018 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend was like a door closing on my childhood.

I can’t say I remember much from Nash’s first stint with the Suns, because he didn’t play very much. I do have distinct memories of Kidd on the Dallas Mavericks. I remember playing as Kidd in NBA Jam when I couldn’t choose the Indiana Pacers. In 2003, it felt like he single-handedly beat the Pacers in the first-round playoff series. The Nets went on to lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals that year.

To me, their careers always seemed intertwined. Kidd was drafted by the Mavericks, and Nash’s career really took off as a member of the same organization. Both players returned to the teams that drafted them. Nash is arguably one of the best players to ever play for the Suns, and Kidd won a NBA title with the Mavericks. I have fond memories of watching them compete against each other year. Never in my life did I think I would get the chance to interview either of them.

I was lucky enough to watch both play in person on a few occasions. It was always a treat. Nash had this ability to fire off a pass at any given moment. I remember one game, in Dallas, where he was driving to the lane and going for a lay-up. He passed it to Dirk Nowitzki who was not ready for the pass. It bounced off Dirk’s face and went out of bounds. To this day, I still love telling that story.

The Hall of Fame announcement was an unexpected treat in what I’ve been calling the best field trip ever. I have often thought of the students that came before me, who put in the work on earlier trips. It is because of them and the impression they made that I am here. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to live my dreams. To everyone who has played any kind of role in this, thank you.

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

USBWA Honors Additions to Its Hall of Fame

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

Sports Capital Journalism Program

SAN ANTONIO — The United States Basketball Writers Association inducted four sports journalists into its Hall of Fame during the annual honors luncheon on Monday. Lew Freedman of the Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise, David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Charles Pierce of Esquire, Sports Illustrated and Slate Magazine and Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star were honored.

Freedman is a multiple USBWA award winner who now covers rodeos and outdoor sports. He has published numerous books and has won over 250 writing awards. One of his more interesting articles was based upon a 10-day, six-game road trip with the now-defunct Alaska Pacific program. “I think it was a captivating story for people,” said Freedman. He has spent time at Anchorage Daily News, Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer during his 40-year writing career.

After graduating from Ohio State, Jones got his start with The Columbus Dispatch. After five years, he joined the Harrisburg Patriot-News where he covers both Penn State football and basketball. “I love college basketball,” said Jones during his induction speech. “I was stunned when I got the call. I smiled all day. I smiled all week…I love all the people who cover college basketball because there are a lot of great stories about college basketball.”

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Michigan’s Abdur-Rankman, Robinson Reach a Championship Night

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

Sports Capital Journalism Program

SAN ANTONIO – When Michigan attempts to win its second national championship Monday night, fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson and senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will appear in their final game together. The two have been teammates since the 2014-2015 season when Michigan went 16-16 and failed to make the NCAA tournament.

Robinson arrived in 2014 and redshirted due to transfer from Williams College, a Division III school. According to Michigan, Robinson appears to be the first Division III player to transfer and receive a Division I scholarship. Abdur-Rahkman was a three-star recruit.

Continue reading Michigan’s Abdur-Rankman, Robinson Reach a Championship Night