Thursday's San Diego State-Connecticut game may come down to 'Cardiac Kemba' [Video]
He has been called "Cardiac Kemba" for his late-game heroics, which drives up the blood pressure of his teammates, fans, opposing coaches and reporters who then have to re-write their stories on deadline.
Yes, we're people, too.
But University of Connecticut sophomore point guard Kemba Walker is the undisputed king of clutch in college basketball this season, and should the third-seeded Huskies' NCAA West Regional semifinal game Thursday night against second-seeded San Diego State come down to the wire expect the ball in his hands.
You may wonder, what's going through his head when that time is running down?
"I don't know," he said Wednesday. "My teammates always tell me -- they give me a certain look. It's like, 'Kemba, win this game, just make this shot!' "
That's his goal, which he usually accomplishes (see video). Walker keeps it simple, which, according to the great Malcolm Gladwell, is important in these situations.
Gladwell wrote a brilliant story for the New Yorker about what happens to humans in pressure moments. The story was titled "The Art of Failure" and it obviously pertains to sports quite a bit. He noted that there was a distinct difference between choking and panicking, which are often considered the culprits when some athletes doesn't perform in the clutch.
"Panic, in this sense, is the opposite of choking," he wrote. "Choking is about thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about loss of instinct. Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the same, but they are worlds apart."
Not that we're diagnosing why Walker succeeds in this situation, but he seems to simply focus on breaking down his defender to get the best shot he can, regardless. And that works, just as it does in most other points of the game.
But despite having done it multiple times this season, Walker did say hthat itting game-winners wasn't something that got easier with experience.
"It just happens, honestly," Walker said. "When we're in that situation, like I said, my teammates want me to take that shot, my coaching staff wants me to take that shot, my family wants me to take that shot, I want to take that shot, so I'm going to take that shot and I'm going to try to make it."
Such as he did against Pittsburgh in the Big East Tournament, a tournament the Huskies won by winning five games in five days with Walker averaging 26 points per game in that stretch ...
And against Villanova in January ...
And this crazy one he hit in overtime at Texas in January, a game the Huskies won, 82-81 ...
-- Baxter Holmes