Dan Bonner: ‘Kentucky Didn’t Dominate The Offensive Boards As They Had Done Throughout Tournament’
Kentucky, as it has throughout the NCAA Tournament, was supposed to dominate Connecticut on the glass on Monday night. Well, not only did the Wildcats not dominate on the glass, but they also got out-rebounded, 34-33.
And that was the biggest reason why they lost.
“Kentucky did not dominate the offensive boards as they have done throughout the tournament,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Dan Bonner said on The John Feinstein Show. “And when (Connecticut) had to make plays, they made plays.”
While Kentucky’s rebounding – or lack thereof – was surprising, Connecticut’s ability to disrupt Kentucky’s guards was not. The Huskies had nine steals, including three apiece by Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.
“I’m not surprised at all that that happened,” Bonner said. “They did it to Florida, and Florida had a great backcourt. They did it to Michigan State. The poor fellows from Michigan State looked like they learned to dribble the day before the game and were having trouble with it. The guard pressure was something to be expected. Going into that game, I thought that the Connecticut guards would disrupt the Kentucky guards, but I thought Kentucky would be able to really make some impact, really make some headway with their offensive rebounding – and they simply did not. And I thought that was the key to the game.”
John Caliapri was criticized for electing not to foul in the final minute with his team trailing, but Bonner found no fault with it.
“I agree with Cal 100 percent,” he said. “Not with those guys. They’re going to make all their free throws. What difference does it make?”
Connecticut finished 10-for-10 at the foul line, while Kentucky was 13-of-24.
The Huskies’ victory was marred, somewhat, by Napier’s Richard Sherman-like rant during the trophy celebration. Napier voiced his displeasure with Connecticut missing the tournament last year due to probation.
“That’s what everybody does,” Bonner said. “Everybody is always looking for the reason that they’re being somehow harmed. Everybody’s a victim. Everybody has to have a chip on their shoulder. Isn’t this the season where John Calipari – after first saying that he thought his team had a chance to go 40-0 – said people were criticizing them too much (when they lost some games)?
“Everybody tries to put that chip on their shoulder. And if that was a motivating factor for Shabazz Napier, then okay. It has no truth at all. But the reality of the situation doesn’t make any difference. If that helped motivate him, good for him and good for Connecticut.”
Napier also commented that college athletes should be paid. He added that he goes to bed starving.
“I think this whole business is ridiculous with people claiming that they need to be paid,” Bonner said. “I went to school 140 years ago. We got room and board, tuition and fees, books and $15 a month (for) laundry money.
“And somehow,” Bonner said sarcastically, “I was able to survive and I didn’t go to bed hungry. So that’s a ridiculous comment to make. When we get so far away from the true issues with foolishness like that, it’s hard to put the true issues in focus.”
Getting back to Caliapri, Bonner isn’t buying the explanation that his team started slow and made mistakes because it’s young.
“His team was young in November; there are no young teams in April,” Bonner said. “If they’re making mistakes because they’re young, then he and his staff really haven’t done their jobs. That’s not an excuse.”