Now a top seed in the nation, UConn joins the ranks of blue-blood basketball programs after winning its fifth straight NCAA Tournament title.
HOUSTON — Titles mean everything in sports. They are of great importance and bring irrefutable confirmation to the greatness of the group.
Monday night at NRG Stadium, the University of Connecticut Huskies held off a blistering second-half performance from San Diego State to clinch the 2023 state championship with a 76-59 decision. UConn now has five national titles in its historyall of them since 1999.
With 45 seconds left and the game in doubt, Huskies coach Dan Hurley couldn’t contain himself. He took it all out. Deep anxiety, years of unforgiving work – and now it has come to a head.
This puppy was finished, and it was time for Hurley’s usual expression. There was a huge celebratory fist pump and “YEAH!!!” to the UConn section behind the team bench that had to be heard over the din at least 40 rows back.
“I told you, Coach! I told you!” junior center Donovan Clingan said to UConn assistant Kimani Young, who was yelling “We did it!” again and again. Helper Luke Murray had his face painted on his face which clearly caught the eye of his father, Bill. And in a short time, Tom Moore, who helped UConn win titles under Jim Calhoun, was overcome by his feelings about what his players had just done.
The best of those players is the Final Four Outstanding Player: Adama Sanogo. He grabbed a loose ball (after Andrew Hurley had dribbled over it as time expired) and put his arm around it. He may not leave it until after the team rally.
UConn was crowned Monday night in a coronation that confirmed once and for all the status of this college powerhouse.
Going to the Final Four was debatable.
It cannot be denied now.
The Huskies have as many national championships as Duke. And Indiana. They have more than Kansas, Villanova, Louisville and so on.
This is a blue blood program. If you needed a fifth title and a 5-0 record in the national championship games to believe it, believe it. No program has a better record in the finals — no one is close. When UConn gets to the first Monday in April, it wins.
For this group, its legacy will be How it won. The fourth-seeded Huskies faced very few obstacles in this tournament. A fifth title alone would be enough to confirm UConn’s true blue-blood status, but Hurley’s team also won one of the NCAA Tournament’s all-time best runs. It was a level of destruction that we rarely see. All six of the tournament’s games were double-overtime and ended by an average of 20 points.
At the center of every game’s demolition was Sanogo (17 points, 10 rebounds on Monday night). The Mali midfielder has just completed one of the greatest six-game runs by a player of all time – doing so while observing Ramadan and fasting during this epic game. Just fine.
“Obviously, he’s thrown himself into a group of the greatest players, obviously, the greatest guys with all the products and the All-League First Team, and now this,” he said. Hurley, “having a national championship puts him. at one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball. He’s an all-time great.”
Looking for more evidence of blue blood status? Calhoun, Kevin Ollie and Hurley won state championships, doing so three different times in the conference. The Huskies join blue bloods Kentucky, UNC and Kansas as the only programs to win a national championship with three different coaches.
Most NCAA Tournament players
|The group||NCAA Tournament|
|UCLA||11 – 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995|
|Kentucky||8 – 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012|
|North Carolina||6 – 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2017|
|Duke||5 – 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015|
|Indiana||5 – 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987|
|UConn||5 – 1999, 2004, 2011, 2014, 2023|
|Kansas||4 – 1952, 1988, 2008, 2022|
The Huskies have won every NCAA Tournament game by 13 points or more, just the fifth team in history to do so. The last four games — which should be the four toughest games — have seen UConn hold opponents to less than 35 percent shooting. No team has done SEO to this extent. And no team until this UConn team has won five championship games by 15 points or more. UConn has gone a combined 5:22 in their last four NCAA Tournament games.
In 120 minutes of second-half action against Iona, Saint Mary’s, Arkansas, Gonzaga, Miami and San Diego State, UConn trailed after as many as 55 seconds.
It’s a horrible thing.
“I’m very proud of the way we’ve done it and the type of people we’ve built, the way we’ve recruited young players, developed young players,” Hurley said. “We do it without cheating. We do it without lying.”
The big thing for college basketball and the Big East that Connecticut has climbed to the top is a swagger-swinging coach proving that you can do this by staying true to who you are.
As for five titles, only UCLA and Duke have won as many as five championships in a 25-year span.
Non-Big East teams didn’t stand a chance against this team this season. UConn has won 17 games outside of the Big East region and won those games by a total of 24-plus points, all by 10 points or more. The only other bands that ever did that were pretty cool: 1966-67 UCLA and 2008-09 North Carolina. Blue blood, of course.
On Monday night, another strong eviction. San Diego State led 10-6, then missed 14 straight shots, the most field goals by any team in the contest. The drought lasted 11 minutes, and that’s what finally happened to the Aztecs.
The Huskies’ 120-point advantage through six games in this year’s Big Dance is the fourth-best in the event’s history. This will go down as the strongest goal of all time.
If it weren’t for a surprising 2-6 run from Game 15 through 23, this 31-8 UConn team would be remembered as one of the best of the last 25 years. Maybe it still can? It broke the record of no big leagues this season. We have just seen the greatness. The Huskies were everything you want in a national champion: aggressive, fast, long, athletic, defensive-minded, opportunistic. annoying – and unpleasant.
One man saw what this program could be. Hurley is passionate about what he believes, and on January 18, 2020, the Huskies lost 61-55 at Villanova. Hurley was in his second year at UConn. However, it was Villanova. The loss wasn’t embarrassing, especially not so far from a program that won its third national championship in 2018.
But when Hurley went to the press conference after the game, he explained himself in a quote that was widely shared at the time and has been in the spotlight ever since. On Monday night – 1,171 days later – what he said that night became the stuff of legend.
This is Hurley’s legacy. “People better find us now. That’s all. You better find us now because it’s… coming.”
It was definitely coming, and on Monday night, it officially arrived.
Write the words of that quote on plaques and buildings across the campus in Storrs. Hurley’s prophetic introduction will live forever in the Nutmeg Country.
“There’s some level of validation that’s going to come out of this,” Hurley said. “But I feel like it’s my job to coach, and even before this, I think a lot of coaches – maybe I’m not doing a good job of kissing the media’s ass and projecting this very lovable image, but that’s it that’s who I am. I’m from Jersey City, and this is how people in Jersey City behave.”
UConn has bounced back and cemented its blue blood status. This matter is considered officially closed. The show returns to the top of the game, and it’s among the best. It won the national title in the ’90s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. The last forty years have been.
That’s what college sports officials do.
If all the reports and victories of the refugees were not enough, then look ahead, because guess what: There are more to come. The UConn Huskies get right back in time No. 1 college basketball team.
UConn 2023 Championship kits are now available
The Connecticut Huskies won their fifth men’s basketball national championship and first since 2014. Celebrate this historic victory at the end of the tournament with UConn Championship Gear. Find shirts, hats, and more here now.
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