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David J. Phillip | Associated Press
Connecticut guard Terrence Samuel, left, and guard Lasan Kromah hold the championship trophy after beating Kentucky 60-54.

UConn: A win for sticking it out

I know what I was looking at last night, as the UConn Huskies cut down the nets and CBS revved up "One Shining Moment" again. Last kid to be picked wins it all, right?

UConn winning the national title was a victory for the snubbed, the ignored, the tribe of those-who-wait, and, yes, for that kid on the playground who's always left standing by himself when the teams are divvied up. The Big East imploded, and no one came calling for a school that had won three national titles in 12 years. They ended up in a conference of scraps and tag ends (the American), and then they were barred from the NCAA Tournament last year because of grades, and then five players decided it wasn't worth it and bolted to the NBA.

But those who'd stuck around for awhile -- the Shabazz Napiers and Ryan Boatwrights -- decided to keep sticking around, and they had a young coach, Kevin Ollie, who turned their stubbornness into a team that was uncommonly stubborn about giving up points, and they won one for the old school.

To be sure, college buckets is still a momentary enterprise. The For Now Five at Kentucky is the new working model now, thanks to the NBA's shortsighted insistence that high school players having to wait a year before entering the NBA draft. It's become a game for transients now, and the universities' naked hunger for the cash generated by those transients guarantees it will remain so.

But UConn showed what can happen when college players actually behave like college players and not commuters at a bus stop, and that was good to see. It's not what college basketball is anymore, but for one night, we could at least pretend it still was.

And maybe that's enough these days.

Ben Smith's blog.

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