The 2000-2001 college basketball season ended with Duke cutting down the nets for the first time in nine years.
It also ended the career of a player that will go down in history as one of the best.
Shane Battier closed out his illustrious career by being named Defensive Player of the Year of the third time, joining Wake Forest's Tim Duncan and Nevada-Las Vegas' Stacey Augmon as the only player to win the coveted award three times.
Battier also ended it with that elusive title, Duke's first since going back-to-back in 1991 and 1992, after an 82-72 win over Arizona.
"It's about time," Battier said. "I finally made some shots in the second half and was able to give us a little boost. It just feels great to be a national champ. It was a great evening for Duke University and Duke basketball."
Duke's triumphant season was not without some controversy.In the title game, star guard Jason Williams committed what appeared to be a clear foul that would have been his third.
The Blue Devils also received the benefit of numerous whistles in their 95-84 victory over Maryland in the national semifinals. Duke shot 35 free throws despite launching 27 3-pointers, an
Meanwhile, Maryland senior Terence Morris was called for his controversial fourth foul early in the second half and Lonny Baxter fouled out.
The loss did not dampen the fact that Maryland was making the first Final Four appearance in the illustrious history of the school. The Terrapins won 25 games and played a memorable Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal against Duke, in
which they lost at the buzzer on a tip-in by Nate James.
The Final Four proved that the years of winning championships without future professional players are just about over. Duke featured Battier and underclassmen Williams and Mike Dunleavy, who are considered locks for the NBA at some point.Maryland
A greater problem arose in the sport with the questionable job that the NCAA Tournament selection committee did in choosing and seeding teams. For the first time, the field featured 65 teams, with Northwestern State defeating WInthrop in a "play-in" game that the NCAA referred to as the "opening round."
Once again, the committee protected major conference by letting teams such as Penn State (21-12), Georgia (16-15), and Missouri (20-13) into the field. Meanwhile, schools from smaller
conferences such as UC-Irvine (25-5), Richmond (22-7), College of Charleston (22-7) and Illinois State (21-9) were omitted.
The smaller schools that got in did a nice job of representing their conferences. Indiana State upset Oklahoma, Butler crushed Wake Forest, Georgia State knocked off Wisconsin and Kent State
But the small school that has made a reputation for knocking off the big boys made the most noise as Gonzaga defeated Virginia and Indiana State for its third straight "Sweet 16" appearance.
Of course, no discussion of college basketball can be complete without mention of the return of "the general," Bobby Knight.
Knight kept his red sweaters and moved his quest to break Dean Smith's record for coaching victories from Indiana to Texas Tech, where he has used a combination of junior college players and holdovers to get the Red Raiders off to a hot start.
If Knight's credo is that work ethic and effort are keys to success, it had very little to do with how he received this job.
Knight took advantage of his long-time friendship with Texas Tech Athletic Director Gerald Myers to secure the position and Myers has taken the mandatory step in dealing with Knight --
looking the other way.
After a game at Houston's Compaq Center on Dec. 14, Knight criticized the facilities, including his belief that the locker room would have been small "for four midgets."
Knight was confronted by arena manager Jerry MacDonald, who alleged Knight threatened to fight him, a charge Knight denied. McDonald was forced into a letter of apology from his superiors
and Knight again walked away from yet another controversy with his checkered reputation intact.
Another big change was the proliferation of even more exempt tournaments during the holiday season. The NCAA had proposed to eliminate some of these events in which the games do not count toward a team's schedule.
Most coaches reacted in anger and more events were created in addition to the Great Alaska Shootout, Preseason NIT, Maui Invitational and Rainbow Classic.
The Guardians Classic made its debut with a 16-team field and the Paradise Jam was created in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The BCA Invitational had a field that included Prairie View, Fairleigh Dickinson, San Jose State and East Carolina.
Three tournaments sprouted up in Las Vegas, the gambling mecca that is a constant source of angst for the NCAA. The Las Vegas Tournament, the Las Vegas Invitational and the Las Vegas Classic all featured eight-team fields and had games played in a high school gym.
The season also had a notale surprise in the emergence of Horace Jenkins, who starred for Division III William Paterson.
Jenkins was discovered by former Seton Hall player and WIlliam Paterson coach Jose Rebimbas on the playgrounds in New Jersey, where the 6-1 guard regularly destroyed the competition. Jenkins drew numerous NBA scouts to his games with his flashy style of play.
The Pioneers went all the way to the Division III national title game but were defeated, 76-62, by Catholic University as Jenkins made just 7-of-25 shots for 21 points. The Cardinals claimed
their first national championship.