2013-14 SEASON:

Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports

UConn's men drew inspiration from women in their lives

There's been a lot of talk about UConn's postseason ban and the high expectations that come along with succeeding a legend like Calhoun. But those challenges pale in comparison to what Ollie went through off the court.

Back in September, Stephanie's father died unexpectedly from a rare life-threatening skin condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Two months later, Ollie's mother, Dorothy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two weeks ago, she underwent the first of two surgeries doctors said she needed; Dorothy received clearance to travel to Dallas for the Final Four – which she did.

"It was a year that was very hard for us," Stephanie said, reflecting over her own late-night meal. "It was just a lot. I kind of knew, since we'd had such a rough year, there was nothing but up from there.

"I think it was in the stars."


Photo: Matt Mitchell, Michigan State athletic communications

Photo: Matt Mitchell, Michigan State athletic communications

Michigan State's Mr. Fix-it keeps Spartans on the court

For much of the season, the bodies of Michigan State basketball players appeared brittle.

One by one, players went down but not out. They suffered a plethora of injuries, none season-ending. A sprained ankle here, plantar fasciitis there. A lingering wrist injury. A broken bone in a hand.

One by one, they came to Quinton Sawyer, the Spartans' third-year trainer and the one tasked with putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.


Photo: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

Photo: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

From watching highlights to creating them, Jabari Parker stays true to self

"In our profession, and especially with these young guys in high school, it's a little like 'out of sight, out of mind,'" Duke associate coach Jeff Capel says. "That's what happened to him. I think people really forgot how good he was."

That won't happen anymore.


Photo: Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports

Florida's Billy Donovan retains fire, gains perspective

"Early on, it was probably more about wanting so badly to be successful," says Donovan, 48. "You actually think you're going to be more complete as a person (if you win a title). When it happens, you expect to feel more complete, and you don't, necessarily. … What ultimately ends up completing you as a person are the relationships you have in your life and how genuine and sincere they are.

"I've seen those young coaches. I was one of those guys. You're going and going and going, and you actually think you're going to get it. Most people who coach don't win a national championship — are they left feeling less than worthy?"

The answer seems so obvious to Donovan now: no. But it took a lot of experience, a lot of winning and a significant loss to get to this point. In his 18 years at Florida, he has grown up and gained perspective -- and he has built a Hall of Fame résumé in the meantime.