NEW ORLEANS —
Last year, the formula resulted in a trip to the Final Four that ended with a crushing loss to Connecticut in the semifinals.
This year, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist came to Lexington with big-time bona-fides, and they didn't disappoint. Kentucky lost only twice all season — once on a buzzer-beater at Indiana, the second time last month in the SEC tournament title game to Vanderbilt.
The Vandy loss might have been, as Calipari put it, just what the doctor ordered for a team that could sometimes border on arrogance.
They rebounded nicely for the real tournament, and through it all, the coach refused to apologize for the way he recruits or how he runs his program. Just playing by the rules as they're set up, he says, even if he doesn't totally agree with them. Because he refuses to promise minutes or shots to any recruit and demands teamwork out of all of them, he says he comes by these players honestly.
He has produced nine first-round picks in the last four drafts with a few more coming. This latest group will have an NCAA title in tow and the everlasting love of a fan base that bleeds basketball.
"I don't know of any team that has sacrificed for each other like this team and they deserve this moment, they really do," Calipari said.