Perhaps best defined in your actions in the toughest times.

UConn has appealed to me not just as an alumni or a lifelong fan but because do to the conference restructuring and the way their programs have been treated by cable television and the NCAA and Big East, it's sort of an "Us against the world" program (miraculously the UConn women's basketball team seems to be winning a battle no one else could win).

Life is challenging for me now and challenging for my family. I'm sure we aren't the only family like that. Children and getting older, they make things difficult. So do jobs. So does other family. I think my wife and I would both say we aren't appreciated for what we do. But we both keep on doing.

Last year, UConn, somewhat arbitrarily, wasn't allow to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Big East decided not to let them play in what would be their final Big East tournament for fear it would cost them an automatic birth if UConn somehow won the tournament. UConn, a new coach, a fairly new team (with all the departures to the NBA and because the NCAA basically begged UConn's players to leave despite the fact it "kinda was exactly what got UConn in trouble with the APR" (since the APR only figures transfers, not leaving for the NBA *cough cough Kentucky cough cough*.

Coming off a title a two years prior, UConn was down. That title team won five games in five days, something no other team has done, then won an NCAA title. Kemba Walker. Kemba's last month of the season was unprecedented. Kemba, on top of being a leader who made everyone better around him, also had NBA "hops", an NBA shot and an NBA body. He's a border-line all-star in the NBA.

People draw some comparisons to this year's team and I often say, Shabazz Napier isn't Kemba Walker. As much as I love Kemba, that's also a compliment to Shabazz. Shabazz does not have an NBA body, may be nothing more than a role player in the NBA if he gets into the league (a lot like his coach, Kevin Ollie). Shabazz couldn't single-highhandedly lead UConn over Louisville in the first AAC tournament, mostly because Louisville is playing like Larry Johnson's UNLV teams right now. Shabazz may not win an NCAA title this year. Shabazz has had great moments like the Florida game to compare with his former teammate and friend Kemba's Pittsburgh game-winner in the Big East tournament. But the year before Kemba's magic run, Kemba was on a lackluster, under-achieving UConn team filled with future NBA players (and solid college players like Jerome Dyson and Alex Oriahki) which just fell flat every game. Not necessarily Kemba's fault, by any means.

Shabazz's team last year was playing for nothing, except maybe to get Kevin Ollie the inexplicable contract extension he deserved from day one. By the end of the year, about half the team was injured. Shabazz couldn't suit up against a mediocre South Florida team due to an ankle injury that had him playing at about 75% the last quarter of the season. They were massacred. Shabazz wasn't going to let it end like that. He willed himself into the line-up in the regular season finale with Providence, March 9th in Gampel Pavilion. It was a game that meant nothing to UConn as far as post-season implications. Ollie had his extension and with the injuries the team pretty much had a free pass to flop. While Ryan Boatright would also step up with a game high 23 points, Napier would somehow manage to play 44 minutes, including all of overtime (the team only had six scholarship players available), score 16 points, tie for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Napier also had the first points of overtime and clinched the game at the foul line, leading to a 63-59 win for the Huskies. That sort of gutsy performance made everyone giddy about this year, and for the most part, UConn has met those expectations. But as debatable as that may be, their is no doubt that the "character" of the team this year is strong and it starts with Shabazz Napier. Napier knows how to win because he won against the odds so many times last year in a season the NCAA and Big East tried to degrade. UConn won this year with talent and also with guts and Napier has been the engine.

Just after Matthew McConaughey's ridiculous Oscar speech where he thanked his future self, Shabazz's speech after winning the AAC player of the year showed more of the character of UConn's court general. 

Napier spent more time thanking his single mother for how she raised him and the team managers for their "thankless" (until now) job helping the team succeed at all costs. It was a refreshing speech at that and made UConn alums as proud as they are listening to Emeka Okafor speak so eloquently or Jim Calhoun praising every part of the UConn program (albeit in Calhoun's quick and scrambled speak). Shabazz has had difficult times, as a poor child, as a teenager and as a player on a team that was left for dead. He could have taken the easy road and gone to, let's say Missouri or UNLV, but he didn't. He stayed in Storrs through difficult days when he could have turned his back on gone elsewhere. He showed us his true character by example.

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