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WINNING IT ALL
TIM LAYDEN
April 13, 2011
IN AN UGLY, NOSE-TO-NOSE DEFENSIVE BATTLE WITH THE BUTLER BULLDOGS, THE HUSKIES PROVED TO BE THE TOUGHEST DOGS IN THE FIGHT
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April 13, 2011

Winning It All

IN AN UGLY, NOSE-TO-NOSE DEFENSIVE BATTLE WITH THE BUTLER BULLDOGS, THE HUSKIES PROVED TO BE THE TOUGHEST DOGS IN THE FIGHT

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But weird with a sharply competitive edge. Blaney says that early in the year Lamb "was playing at what we call high school speed." Lamb, who speaks—but not much—in a deep baritone, says, "I'm playing at the same speed right now that I always played at. But I'm knocking down shots, and that makes me look faster."

This team was deemed too young and too playful to get to the final, and its inherent silliness was evident in pregame rituals. First the players would pray, as Walker anointed their foreheads with a drop of water. And then, just before taking the court, they would gather in a circle and dance. First Walker in the middle while his teammates chanted, E-ZPass, K-Walk, K-K-Walk. And then Oriakhi: A-O, A-A-O. Finally they would yell Drunk Drive, Drunk-Drunk-Drive as Smith (who had once stumbled into the middle of the circle) pretended to stir a huge pot of food with a giant spoon. And at last: Tastes Good!

WHEN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WAS OVER, THE Huskies ate real food, individual pizzas delivered to the locker room and stacked in a tall, metal warming oven. Those tasted good, too. It had been an improbable journey, one win built on top of another until none remained. "I think back to the first game of the Big East tournament," said Beverly. "We blew out DePaul [97--71], and after that game we just took this attitude of, Let's just keep doing this. And it never stopped."

Then his coach stopped in on his way to the team bus. He was wearing a tailored blue suit made just for the Final Four, wrinkled from a long night's work. History will judge his career on another day. History will judge this inartistic game on another day. The coach will not wait. "To me," he said, walking down a long, wide corridor in a building far from home, "this was beauty."

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