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College basketball: Contrast the name of the game at Final Four

Published March 31, 2014 5:53 pm

Men's basketball • NCAA semifinalists will bring divergent styles to Texas.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Florida coach Billy Donovan has his hands full preparing for Shabazz Napier and Connecticut in the Final Four, yet couldn't help but look across at the other side of the bracket.

Kentucky, with its waves of athletic freshmen against defensive and deliberate Wisconsin, yeah, that's going to be interesting to watch — even for a coach with more pressing things on his mind.

"It should be a great game," Donovan said during a conference call with the Final Four coaches on Monday. "Two, I think in a lot of ways, contrasting styles."

Contrast. This year's Final Four is full of it.

Kentucky has relied almost entirely on freshmen (again), while Florida followed a road paved by seniors.

The Gators' middle is muscular, anchored by lane bully Patric Young. Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky is a 7-footer who is just as comfortable on the 3-point line as he is on the low block.

The Badgers' shot clock is more like an hour glass, offensive spacing and precision cutting setting up the perfect shot. The athletic Wildcats barge their way past opponents, getting out on the break or flying in for rebound slams.

Even the coaches have divergent paths: Donovan and Kentucky's John Calipari are Final Four regulars, UConn's Kevin Ollie and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan have crashed the party for the first time.

The 66-year-old Ryan is finally in the Final Four after so many near-misses, but has at least seen a version of the big stage before after taking Wisconsin-Platteville to four national championships before moving on to Madison.

Ollie has never been this far; he's only been a head coach for two seasons and the Huskies weren't eligible for the NCAA tournament a year ago. He does have plenty of experience, though, playing for 11 teams during 13 NBA seasons before ending up in Storrs.

The contrast in big men runs the spectrum in this year's Final Four.

Florida's Young is built like a 6-foot-9 bodybuilder, using his strength to bull opponents out of the lane and get to the rim. Kentucky's Julius Randle is of a similar mold, though with more of a face-up game, and UConn big man DeAndre Daniels can shoot, slash and soar.

On the far end of the big-man spectrum is Kaminsky. A lanky 7-footer, he uses his length to score around the basket, but also has good shooting touch from the arc.

"Kaminsky for them is a unique player just in the fact that with his size, he can step away from the basket and shoot threes, he obviously can post up and score around the basket," Donovan said. —

NCAA Final Four

P Saturday • Connecticut vs. Florida, 4:09 p.m. • Kentucky vs. Wisconsin, 6:49 p.m.

TV • TBS

NIT semifinals

P Tuesday • Clemson vs. SMU, 5 p.m. • Minnesota vs. Florida St., 7 p.m.

TV • ESPN2