Durant one of NCAA’s finest

first_imgThere are certain days that are just too good to be true. That’s how Thursday was shaping up to be. I had only one class scheduled, and it was the first day of the tournament. I was all set to skip that class and write a running diary of my day watching three games at once. It seemed too good to be true. It was.I found out that my midterm in Politics of Sports was scheduled smack dab in the middle of the day. Ninety percent of the class probably signed up for it just because the word “sports” was in the title, and now we’ve missed the first round of the tournament!So there went the running diary and my comfortable position lounging in my chair all day.At least the selection committee did me the favor of scheduling the Badgers’ game for Friday, so I didn’t have to miss my exam.One thing I noticed when watching the games was that CBS kept running these Naismith candidate spotlight features. Sure, it’s probably contractually obligated, but do they really need to do these? At this point, isn’t the Player of the Year race almost over?All year long, candidates have come and gone. For a while, Alando Tucker looked like he was the frontrunner with huge games against Marquette, Pittsburgh and Ohio State. Then Kevin Durant happened.Durant basically decided that nothing was going to stop him. This, by no means, takes anything away from Tucker. This season he has been nothing less than exceptional for the Badgers. With all respect due to Tucker, his season just doesn’t quite measure up.But Durant has that aura around him. When he touches the ball, you know something is going to happen. He is at his best in the biggest games and always seems to come up with the big shot.In Texas’ triple overtime game against Oklahoma State and double-OT game against Texas A&M, Durant hit clutch shots to extend both games. In Texas’ Big 12 tournament game against Oklahoma State, Durant cold-bloodedly nailed a 3 off an offensive rebound to put Texas ahead for good in the final minute. All told, Durant set the Big 12 Conference tournament scoring record — he tallied 92 points in only three games — in a conference that has seen the likes of Danny Manning, Marcus Fizer and Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. Even more impressive, Durant is doing all this as a true freshman. Put into context by my roommate Dylan after a ridiculously emphatic Durant dunk: “He’s the same age as one of those punk freshmen we have over before the football games.”When you think about it that way, Durant is simply remarkable. To think, a year ago at this time he was trying to figure out which hottie-bo-bottie from his high school he was going to ask to prom. Now he is out there coldly sinking NBA-range 3s to win the game in front of 20,000 screaming fans, and he doesn’t look like he is even fazed one bit by it.His stats measure up to the accolade as well. On the season, Durant ranks fourth in the NCAA in both points and rebounding, a testament to the overall quality of his game. On top of that, he is not a bad defender, either. While there is still an outside chance Tucker could bring home one of the POY awards with a deep tournament run propelled by great individual efforts, the award is Durant’s to lose at this point, and so far he has shown no signs of choking when the pressure is on. Ben Voelkel is a sophomore majoring in political science. Want to make a case for someone besides Durant for POY? E-mail him at bvoelkel@badgerherald.com.last_img read more