Skip to content

Like 2004, UConn is once again the center of college basketball in 2014

Apr 9, 2014, 12:16 AM EST

source: AP

AP

In 2004, Jim Calhoun led the Huskies to their second championship in six seasons with a National Title win over Georgia Tech in San Antonio. More than 500 miles away in New Orleans, the women’s team defeated rival Tennessee to cap off a three-peat for Geno Auriemma’s fifth championship.

A decade later, the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been crowned champions in the same season once again. Thirteen times a UConn basketball team has played for a National Title and thirteen times a UConn basketball team has ended up cutting down the nets.

Their seasons may have finished similarly, but different paths were taken for their respective titles.

On March 15, the men’s team lost to Louisville, the defending national champion, by 33 points. UConn limped into the NCAA tournament as a No.7 seed, and Final Four hopes were almost dashed in the Round of 64 if it weren’t for a come-from-behind overtime win over Saint Joseph’s. After upsetting Villanova in the Round of 32, UConn found itself in a familiar setting, inside Madison Square Garden. The success the Huskies had inside The World’s Most Famous Arena in the past as a member of the Big East was replicated, as they upended Iowa State and Michigan State, a title favorite, to advance to the Final Four.

UConn overcame a slow start against top-ranked Florida to advance to Monday’s final against Kentucky. The Huskies never trailed in the National Title game, but they had to hold off the Wildcats in a wire-to-wire championship victory.

Remarkable considering Kevin Ollie took over a program two years ago with an APR score which barred UConn from postseason play in 2013. But Shabazz Napier, who remained in Storrs when others left for greener pastures, had that loyalty rewarded, winning his second title in four years. One more than the man he struggled to replace, but ultimately out did.

—————————————————————————————–

source:

Getty Images

While the men went on an improbable run this March, the women went on an expected trip back to the Final Four after Auriemma and his Huskies captured their eighth title in 2013.

For the fifth time under Auriemma, the Hall of Fame coach, UConn ran the table, matching the 40-0 mark set by Brittney Griner’s Baylor team in 2012. What made the victory sweeter for Auriemma is that it came at the hands of rival Muffet McGraw, who led her undefeated Fighting Irish into Nashville for the women’s final.

Tuesday night’s final began like the men’s championship game the previous the evening. The UConn offense got out to quick start before the opposition cut into the lead with a late run before heading into the break.

In the second half, the inside presence of Stefanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart began to assert their dominance over the Notre Dame frontline playing without Natalie Achonwa. While it was the UConn front court that proved to be the overwhelming factor for the women’s championship matchup, it was the defensive pressure of the men’s experienced back court that prevailed over the size and strength of Kentucky.

Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright hounded the Aaron and Andrew Harrison, taking away ball screens and forcing the 6-foot-6 duo to 6-of-16 shooting. 

The free three woes played a role in Kentucky’s loss, but it was the limited second-chance opportunities for the Wildcats that kept them from ever taking the lead. The UConn men outrebounded Kentucky by one, not 23 like the women did the next night against their opponent. Though narrowly winning the battle on the boards, UConn held Kentucky to just seven second-chance points from 10 offensive rebounds.

The roads were clearly different, but ended in places both coaches anticipated on reaching.

“Somebody told me we were Cinderellas, and I was like, ‘No, we’re UConn,’” Kevin Ollie said on Monday night. “I mean this is what we do. We are born for this. We’re bred to cut down nets. We’re not chasing championships, championships are chasing us.”

A decade later, Storrs, Conn. has reaffirmed its place as the home of college basketball.

Latest Posts
  1. Late Night Snacks: No. 22 SMU, No. 23 Syracuse fall

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:39 AM EST

    James Blackmon Jr., Stanford Robinson James Blackmon Jr., Stanford Robinson

    There was also a double-overtime game in Charleston, and a buzzer-beating tip-in in Puerto Rico.

  2. California takes a step forward in comfortable win over No. 23 Syracuse

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:36 AM EST

    Cuonzo Martin, David Kravish Cuonzo Martin, David Kravish

    One impressive stretch of perimeter shooting may stand out, but Cal’s execution against the Syracuse zone was good for most of the night.

  3. Perimeter shooting remains an issue as No. 12 Villanova squeaks past Bucknell

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:15 PM EST

    Jay Wright, Dylan Ennis, Jay Wright, Dylan Ennis,

    Through three games Villanova’s shooting 26.3% from three, but they’ve been able to make up for it in other areas.

  4. James Blackmon Jr. stars as Indiana rains threes on No. 22 SMU

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:37 PM EST

    Yogi Ferrell (Getty Images) Yogi Ferrell (Getty Images)

    I don’t know how much they’ll win, but Indiana is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season.

  5. 2015 Gildan Charleston Classic field includes reigning ACC champions

    Nov 20, 2014, 9:29 PM EST

    Tony Bennett Tony Bennett

    2015 participants George Mason (2010) and Seton Hall (2011) will play in the Gildan Charleston Classic for the second time in the history of the event.

  6. Caris LeVert’s all-around impact helps No. 24 Michigan hold off Detroit

    Nov 20, 2014, 8:36 PM EST

    Caris LeVert, Lucas Grose Caris LeVert, Lucas Grose

    Caris LeVert led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, and Michigan held Juwan Howard Jr. without a point over the final 5:39.

  7. Hand injury sidelines Tennessee sophomore forward for home opener

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:59 PM EST

    Veterans Classic Tennesse vs Virginia Commonwealth Getty Images

    Dominic Woodson injured his left hand in practice Sunday.

  8. Inclement weather leads to postponement of Montana State’s game at Buffalo

    Nov 20, 2014, 6:04 PM EST

    Record Snowstorm Pummels Buffalo Getty Images

    More than sixty inches of snow have fallen in western New York this week, so it makes little sense to attempt to play a sporting event as scheduled.

  9. Arizona, Michigan State headline 2015 Wooden Legacy field

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    Tom Izzo Tom Izzo

    Arizona, Michigan State and Providence all reached last season’s NCAA tournament.

  10. Burning Questions: Who gets the last shot?

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:32 PM EST

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Who is the most clutch player in the country?

  11. Throwback Thursday: Jeff Brassow beats Arizona in Maui in 1993 (VIDEO)

    Nov 20, 2014, 2:37 PM EST

    jeff_brassow

    The 2014 Maui Invitational kicks off on Monday.

  12. Poll: 54 percent of people think Kentucky beats the 76ers, 54 percent of people are dumb

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:57 PM EST

    @Sportsnation @Sportsnation

    I cannot respect your intelligence if you think Kentucky beats Philly. I just can’t do it.

  13. Burning Questions: Will we get another surprise Final Four team this year?

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:29 PM EST

    Aaron White, Nathan Hawkins AP

    The last two years, Wichita State, UConn and Kentucky have all made the Final Four as teams seeded outside the top six.

  14. Jerry Tarkanian is back in the hospital

    Nov 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Sad: One of the sport’s most notorious coaches is struggling with his health.

  15. Assigned Reading: The Tao of Shaka

    Nov 20, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    There’s more to Shaka Smart than meets the eye.

  16. Report: Colleagues don’t expect Brandon Miller to return to coaching

    Nov 20, 2014, 10:32 AM EST

    Brandon Miller Brandon Miller

    Will we ever see Butler’s head coach on the sideline again?

  17. Late Night Snacks: Creighton, Gonzaga make statement in wins

    Nov 20, 2014, 1:05 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It was a quiet night on the college hoops front, but one ranked team went down.