Last Monday, the UConn Huskies, a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, defeated the Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 60-54 to take the school’s 4th National Title. In the center of it all was senior guard Shabazz Napier. Napier’s outstanding play led the underdog Connecticut team past formidable foes like 2-seeded Villanova and 1-seeded Florida and earned him Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four. Additionally, Napier won the Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the best point guard in college basketball.
However, Napier’s skills on the court are only one facet of an impressive young man. He was also a part of the 2011 Championship winning Huskies, where star guard Kemba Walker outshined in the tournament and a year in which the Freshman Napier was selected in the Big East All-Rookie team. These accomplishments and accolades, however, quickly turned sour for Napier. He struggled the next year as he assumed a more important role. Matters worsened as a Junior when NCAA sanctions would prohibit UConn to enter the tournament, the legendary Huskies coach Jim Calhoun would retire, and the Big East would cease to exist as it was.
Despite this turmoil, Napier entered this season (and this tournament especially) with a conviction to win. Three months before the championship game, Napier is said to have told his teammates after a loss to Louisville that UConn would hold the trophy. His confidence was evidently contagious to the rest of the team, as the Huskies outplayed each opponent they faced in the tournament. Shortly after the final buzzer against Kentucky, Napier told ESPN, “No matter if you’re from a good neighborhood or a bad one, you’re going to have obstacles. It’s about how you handle them.” Shabazz Napier certainly handled his obstacles and definitely Fits the Mark.
The FItmark Team
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