Kaminsky named Naismith Player of the Year, stage set for nation - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Kaminsky named Naismith Player of the Year, stage set for national championship

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INDIANAPOLIS (WXOW) - - Everyone in Indianapolis took a deep breath Sunday, enjoying the calm before the metaphorical storm that will engulf Lucas Oil Stadium Monday night for the men's basketball national championship game.

The biggest news was Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky earning the Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award, bringing his hardware total to three.

But there's one more trophy he and the Badgers want during their stay in Indiana, and they have their chance Monday night against the Duke Blue Devils.

After ending Kentucky's bid for a perfect season on Saturday in the semifinals, Wisconsin is poised to claim its first national championship since 1941.

The Badgers have knocked off some impressive programs to reach the final game of the season - North Carolina, Arizona, and now Kentucky - but getting past the Blue Devils won't be any easier. They've reached 15 Final Fours.

"I really liked Duke basketball growing up," Kaminsky said. "Just the historic program. I was a huge college basketball fan and Duke was one of the best programs in the country year-in and year-out."

Bronson Koenig said he's been impressed with the Blue Devils all season long. "They're a great team. They got a great back court with Tyus (Jones) and Quinn (Cook), and obviously one of the best players in college basketball with Jahlil (Okafor), so it's going to be a battle."

That respect is shared mutually, specifically by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is coaching for a fifth national title on Monday.

"Bo (Ryan) for especially these last two years has put together a national championship-level team," he said. "They'll be extremely difficult to beat (Monday night)."

Wisconsin wasn't given much time to celebrate Saturday's epic win over the Wildcats, but quick turnarounds have become the norm. The Badgers had to play three games in three days during the Big Ten Tournament, and they were their usual selves Sunday during their mandatory press conference. Changing focus to Duke has not been an issue.

"They've had some experience at this and then these past weekends, you play Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "You have to forget about the one you just played as far as the only thing that's going to help you for that next game is what you learned the 40 minutes of that Thursday or Friday game. In this case, it's Saturday-Monday."

Junior forward Sam Dekker played yet another pivotal role late in the game on Saturday. He's repeatedly said this season that his team can be silly but regain focus when necessary.

"When we get on the court, it's all business, which is how it should be," he said.

Tip-off for Monday's title game is at 8:18 p.m. Central Time. The Badgers have a little luck on their side: Ryan is 4-0 in championship games, having won four titles as the head coach at UW-Platteville.

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