The Huskies title serves as a reminder that basketball comes first at UConn

As you drive through Mansfield, Connecticut to get to Storrs, the winding roads through the woods will at some point make you ponder the question: Am I going the right way? The way to YukonCampus is quiet, especially at night, when you hear a pin drop outside.

Eventually, you enter the campus, where the signs tell the story: one reads “Basketball Capital of the World,” and another lists the national championships the school has won. For visiting teams, it should draw an eye roll from some, if not a sign of the daunting task ahead of them entering Gampel Pavilion. But for an outsider like me, the question you need answered is simple: How? how about College basketball Is the capital of the world located here?

The proof is in the pudding. Geno Auriemma and the 11-time national champion women’s program stand as one of the all-time dynasties in college sports history. Jim Calhoun’s build of the men’s program has placed himself in the ranks of program builders in college hoops history featuring a team of individuals.

How does all that success happen in Storrs Village?

“Isolation in Storrs, that’s one thing that most people who choose not to go to UConn, say they don’t want to go because there’s nothing else to do,” Hall of Famer Ray Allen said Monday in the UConn locker room. night. “And I said to them: “Well, you are wrong because you have everything here. We are here not to divide. We are here to learn the way of life to make it better. Basketball.’ That’s why I signed up to go there. I didn’t want distractions, I didn’t need to be on a college campus going to the beach or clubbing, I just did what I did. UConn offered. That allowed me to stay on track with what my vision and focus was.

A UConn legend summed up what the 2022-23 team showed the world this NCAA tournament: At UConn, basketball is king, and winning championships is the norm.

Dan Hurley cemented his place in history Monday night by leading Connecticut to its first national title since 2014 and fifth since 1999 with a 76-59 win. San Diego State. Those trophies – five in 24 years – represent the following: UConn owns the last quarter century in college basketball, the Huskies are blue bloods, and all the promotional lines and speeches are confirmed by this powerhouse program. .

No other program in college hoops has more than three crowns (North Carolina, DukeSince 1999. Need more proof of where UConn is at the top of college basketball? Here is a list of schools with five or more national championships: Connecticut; UCLANorth Carolina, Duke, Kentucky And Indiana.

UConn dominated San Diego State for the program’s fifth title in 24 years.

Colin Kawerd explains why UConn should be considered a blue blood along with Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and others.

In the course of this tournament, Connecticut won by no means. The Huskies won six NCAA Tournament games by a combined 120 points, changing how strong they were for the nation. That’s the fourth-largest margin of victory in national championship history. They also finished with a 17-0 record against non-conference opponents, winning each by double digits and totaling 417 points.

Harley and crew have assembled the perfect lineup with Jordan Hawkins playing on the perimeter like a top-20 NBA draft pick; Adam Sanogo Like any adult in America, Andre Jackson Developing and leading his game, in addition Tristan Newton Transfer to the program and silence the point guard doubters.

But beyond the prowess of this team and coach on the court, it’s the ferocity and aggressiveness that carry themselves. Harley doesn’t hold back; So are the players.

“He doesn’t tire — you. He’s not like that,” said Sanogo, who averaged 19.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament and was named a Final Four player. “He pushes you to be your best. He is.” [Hurley] He does, and he’s one special coach.

The “tell it like it is” vibe fits well with UConn, because you can’t be in a place with that much tradition and memorable faces and not be authentic. That’s why Hurley and Connecticut are a perfect match, because the Huskies coach doesn’t hold back in his comments and quotes. He wants to win as badly as anyone and at a place like UConn, you can have a fair shot at cutting down the nets every year.

“We’re a-holes in a way, but we’re good a-holes,” Hawkins said with a smile as he described what he likes about the UConn team. “We’re all basketball killers, and I love these guys to death. I couldn’t think about going any other way with this.”

Hawkins, who took the UConn job after a 14-18 season with the Huskies and a 26-win campaign in 2018, will not be head coach. Rhode IslandA second straight trip to the round of 32. Faced with pressure to immediately turn the program around and constantly reminded of past success, Hurley had to rethink how to return UConn to glory.

Hurley was showing off to recruits during the first run of the program’s four national championship titles, but he had an understanding.

“We had nothing to do with those titles,” Hurley said. “We got rid of the trophies 18 months ago and we feel like we’ve put together what it takes to get fifth. So we got rid of those and got them out of our office and said, ‘We don’t want anyone.’ We have trophies in here until we hold our own.

Along the way to finding their own, there was one thing that stood out consistently: UConn’s stability on college basketball’s biggest stage. The Huskies were relentless in the way they dominated the contest and the way Hurley coached the team, whether it was letting off the hard whistle or making a key run, was a testament to the overall development of the side. Hurley has had his fair share of run-ins with officials, but the Huskies’ head coach hasn’t been involved in any of those in this contest. He and his team spoke.

“Because I’m the most intense and fiery trainer I’ve ever made myself out to be, people always focus on my side hustles instead of my overall body,” says Harley, who spent 13 years. After nine years as the head coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, he spoke college side by side. “There aren’t many coaches at St. Benedict who are as successful as my teams. Wagner and Rhode Island. There aren’t many coaches in the country who have won 25 games or more at three different programs and now own a national championship.

It’s that grit and sparkle that fits Northeastern basketball, a mentality that fits right into the game. Big East After spending the last seven years as a member, the Huskies returned to the conference in 2020 American Athletic Conference. After returning to the league as a charter member in 1979, UConn went 69-26. But it didn’t come without some problems. Look at this year: all eight losses – it’s been wild. This The team lost eight games – entered the Big East, including the takeover Xavier And to throw two games Market. Those losses caused this team to refocus and recognize the warts they were exposed to.

In addition to UConn’s national title, the rest of the Big East had its best month in a decade with three teams in the Sweet 16 for the first time since realignment in 2013, a 12-4 NCAA Tournament record, Rick Pitino’s return as he took over St. John Work, Ed Cooley’s dramatization. Providence-to the-Georgetown Move over, and the fries get a big personality in Kim English.

“We were the best conference in the country this year,” Hurley said. “Throughout the year, we were. I felt like we were the top five in particular. And it showed in the NCAA tournament. We were the most successful league in the tournament, and we have a national championship. So we were. The best league in the country this year. That’s not going to change. With the type of coaches that have moved in now, anywhere. I don’t think we’re going to. I know we won’t.”

Yes, UConn has a home — the home of basketball, and that feels right. Monday night’s national title victory was a psychological election reward. The school has decided to change the way it sells its soul to football, making the sport independent, making a bowl appearance under Jim Mora this past year, and joining the Big East League, the capital of basketball. The world is simply his own.

Hurley’s personality, high-level talent, the buzz this program receives and the winning tradition are a natural fit in the Big East, and when the final confirmation comes Monday night, those Storrs road signs will need some updating and a new banner will need to be hung. And the scariest part for the rest of the country? UConn was fielding the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation by 247

“That was our vision. That was our dream,” Harley said. “When we recruited these guys, we talked about coming together to do something big like this. It’s a dream come true.”

It could be just the beginning for the 50-year-old Harley and Huskies. And to think about everything, it all starts with a drive through the forest to Storrs, which no one, on the contrary, expects in the coming years.

Connecticut is back, and Monday night was a coronation in Houston.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to commentating on the 68 Media Network field. Follow him on Twitter @John_instead.

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