Erica Denhoff/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

GLENDALE, ARIZONA — Some of the final words Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley uttered to the group of reporters huddled just outside of the Huskies locker room were drowned out by a boom box-toting, oversized-chain wearing Donovan Clingan, who had the volume of the hip-hop music blaring through those speakers at a Spinal Tap-level “11” while walking down the State Farm Arena hallway, and soon after he and his team secured their place in college basketball history.

The Connecticut Huskies won their sixth national championship on Monday night, the No. 1 overall seed defeating fellow No. 1 seed Purdue 75-60 and becoming the first team since the Florida Gators of 2007 to repeat as national champions. Fitting of Clingan’s exit from the locker room, the Huskies were too loud and too confident, and they knew it — and the Boilermakers knew it the second Connecticut broke open a six-point halftime lead early in the second half and virtually cruised the rest of the final 20 minutes.

Clingan, the gangly 7-foot-2 center from Maine who made the All-Tournament Team, won’t be mistaken for Radio Raheem from the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing, but Hurley was quick to reference the film soon after the music was just far enough away for the reporters to hear Hurley’s thoughts once more. But, for over the past two seasons, especially during the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies not only resemble the look of one of college basketball’s all-time great teams, but carry the swagger of a 1980s rap artist, dropping bars about their slick rhymes, endless swag, and laying waste to any sucker MCs who dare think they are in the same class of musician as them during any battle rap.

One didn’t need to see Clingan saunter his way toward the team bus to observe the swagger. Hurley oozed that bravado just minutes earlier while on the stage during the championship ceremony on center court while being interviewed by Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson.

“For the last 25, 30 years, UConn’s been running college basketball,” a triumphant Hurley exclaimed, soon followed by rapturous cheers from the Huskies fans who remained in the arena.

Six national championships, all since 1999. A perfect 6-0 in national championship games, and a 12-1 overall record in Final Four contests. Twelve consecutive wins in the NCAA Tournament, all by double-digit margins. First men’s team to win back-to-back titles in 17 years.

Those stats make up a Nas “Ether”-like diss track.

Tonight’s matchup was supposed to provide the Huskies the most resistance in any of those tournament games, with back-to-back Naismith Player of the Year Zach Edey providing the muscle that was supposed to give Clingan and the rest of Connecticut fits. In fact, Edey was by far the best player of the first half, scoring 16 points with five rebounds and two blocks, with shades of Virginia-era Ralph Sampson and Georgetown-era Patrick Ewing emanating from the 7-foot-4 Canadian as she showed an array of post moves to score.

All that, and the Huskies were still up 36-30 at the break. No sweat was broken despite all the bluster from Edey, who finished with a game-high 37 points and 10 rebounds.

“We watched the film. [Purdue] gets their three-pointers off people going down [in the post] and helping off Edey,” said Tournament Most Outstanding Player Tristen Newton, who scored 20 points. “[We] did a great job game-planning and made sure it was a focus that we didn’t leave the three-point line and let Edey do his damage. He only shoots twos. He doesn’t shoot threes. If he makes 15 twos like he did today, that’s 30. Where are the rest of the points going to come from?

Oof. Sick burn.

Connecticut absolutely shit out the Boilermakers’ water from the outside, and made the second-best three-point shooting team in the country in terms of field goal percentage only attempt seven three-pointers, tied for the second-fewest amount of threes attempted in national championship game history. Oh, and Purdue hit on just one of those seven long balls.

While Purdue’s lines were off-key, the Huskies’ music on offense was much sweeter, hitting on a couple of alley-oops to Samson Johnson and getting out in transition for layups and open three-pointers. Purdue, the team that was regarded as the best or second-best team in the country by many pundits throughout the year were made to be just background dancers to Connecticut’s show-stealing concert on the State Farm Arena stage.

Hurley, showing his class, heaped praise on the Boilermakers afterward, calling them “clearly the second-best team in college basketball” during the interview on stage and saving more plaudits for the press conference.

“It was a privilege to share the court with Matt Painter and Purdue, one of the top programs in the country, one of the best coaches in the country. Just total class personified across the board with those guys.”

But carrying that Jersey City swagger, which mimics that of the confidence many have who were reared in the birthplace of hip-hop in nearby New York City, Hurley also uttered “we clearly are the best team in college basketball” right before mentioning Purdue being the second-best. And after the praise for Painter and his program, he also stated another truth.

“Obviously, what could you say? We won — by a lot, again.”

*Mic drop*

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Tags : Big East ConferenceBig Ten ConferenceConnecticut HuskiesFinal FourNational ChampionshipPurdue Boilermakers

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