KEMBA WALKER does it again!!!! uconn beats san diego state. 74-67
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Superman wears No. 15 and he plays for the UConn Huskies. He goes by the name of Kemba Walker and last night he lifted his Hall of Fame coach and his toddler teammates past San Diego State and carried them to within 40 minutes of the Final Four.
Here’s all Kemba Walker did: He scored 36 points in 40 minutes. He laughed in the face of a deafening anti-Connecticut crowd, bellowing over at one point to his former AAU Gauchos coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, now an Arizona asssistant, “They can’t guard me!” He gave America a Tyson-esque how-dare-they-challenge-me-with-their-primitive-skills shake of the head after after draining a 3 from the Sack-Wern Houses in The Bronx.
And when UConn 74, San Diego State 67 ended, UConn coach Jim Calhoun, fully aware that a great coach can win a championship with a great player — the way he did with Rip Hamilton in 1999 and Emeka Okefor and Ben Gordon in 2004 — hugged his latest great player on the court at the Honda Center for all to see.
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Steve Fisher threw just about everybody but the San Diego Chargers at Walker, to no avail. It was Walker who doled out the 40 minutes of hell. He was seated at his locker with that big smile when I asked him if he ever gets tired.
“No,” he began. Then he cracked a little joke. “I got a chip inside me. I’m like a machine.”
He is the closest thing to Isiah Thomas in his Indiana heyday you will see.
“That’s a good compliment right there — thank you,” Walker said.
Such lightning quickness, a la Allen Iverson. Such an indomitable will to win a la Kobe or MJ. The bigger the stage, the better he plays.
“I just want to win,” Walker said. “It’s not the stage, it’s not about anything; I just want to win. This right now is the most important time of the year, and I’m trying to get as far as possible.”
A 6-foot-5 freshman, Jamaal Franklin, knocked Walker down following a timeout and drew a technical. He must not have known that Kemba Walker always gets up. Smiling.
“They were trying to take me out of my game, try and be physical with me. . . . I didn’t want to fight with them,” Walker said. “I just wanted to get some redemption for doing what he did to me.”
He had started slowly, missing his first four shots. He looked human.
“I was just a little hyper,” Walker said.
Finally, Walker made one of his lightning-quick cuts past Franklin and Shabazz Napier fed him for the easy backdoor lay-in, and it was on. Now Fisher switched Billy White, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, on Walker, who promptly drained a jumper from the left corner.
“I knew I had a quickness advantage on him. I knew I could beat him to a spot and can some open shots and that’s what I was able to do,” Walker said.
Walker threw up an airball 3 in the final minutes, but UConn was able to hold off a desperate San Diego State comeback bid when freshman Jeremy Lamb turned into a lion with a huge 3 from the left wing with 1:42 left to give the Huskies a 68-64 lead and then stole a D.J. Gay pass and jammed a feed from Napier before Walker calmly sank a pair of free throws with 14.6 ticks left.
“Man, he was big-time,” Walker said, and on his way to the interview room, he wrapped the skinny teenager in a bearhug and they laughed the laugh of the Elite Eight together. “He does a lot of things that won’t show up in the stat sheet.”
So does Walker, who played every minute of a game for the third time in a postseason game.
There was no time for breaks against a San Diego State frontline that began imposing its will to overcome a nine-point deficit in the second half. But Walker willed right back.
“Whatever I do in life,” he said. “I try to attack it with some type of attitude.”
His youthful-looking mother Andrea basked in her son’s latest shining moment.
“He had to will them,” she said. “He had to will them to keep them in the game and he did it. He’s two-steppin’, three-steppin’ or four-steppin’, they follow his lead.”
There is no place Kemba Walker would rather be than right smack in the middle of March Madness with a basketball in his hands and the world watching.
“He has so much fun playing this game,” Andrew Walker said. “Even though he’s my baby, that smile he’s got is worth a million dollars. A million-dollar smile.”
She was wearing one of her own, along with a white 15 jersey.
“I just want them to go all the way,” she said.
With Superman carrying them, they just might.
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