HOUSTON — As the blue, white and gold pieces of confetti continued to rain down on his players, UConn head coach Danny Hurley exclaimed a head-turning comment on the dais at center court while speaking to CBS’ Jim Nantz.
“We have our own now,” Hurley exhorted to the hordes of Huskies fans still assembled at NRG Stadium.
No matter how much he might not want to admit it, Hurley relishes being out from under the weight of expectations of being the Huskies head coach…and of living up to the esteemed Hurley name.
It helps when you have the squad that Hurley and his staff assembled going into this season, and once it got over the first-round jitters that any high seed would understandably have to begin a possible NCAA Tournament run, there was no stopping UConn from living up to its unprecedented standard that the past teams have built over the past quarter century.
The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team won its fifth national championship, downing San Diego State 76-59 inside of NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday night. The game was the culmination of one of the most dominant runs to a title in the 64-team tournament era, as Connecticut won each of his six games in the Big Dance by double digits, with their 13-point win in the national semifinals on Saturday against the University of Miami its smallest margin of victory. It also culminated a season in which it did not lose a game all season against a team outside of the Big East, the third time that a UConn team won a national championship while suffering its losses all season during conference play.
You can say the dominance is akin to the teams that put titles on the Huskies’ mantel in 2004, a team that had a plethora of future NBA first-round picks (Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong), or 2011, when Kemba Walker parlayed a Big East Tournament for the ages into a March Madness coronation that also took place in Houston.
Speaking of those titles, Hurly made sure they were nowhere to be seen as this season rolled around, helping to lessen the weight of expectations that always comes with playing for a school that is covered by the press and treated by the fans as a professional team in the Nutmeg State.
Hence why Hurley thinks their title is so unique, despite being in the shadows of greatness — some of those shadows, like Okafor, Walker, Rudy Gay and Ray Allen, sitting courtside during the game tonight.
“Obviously, we propped up in recruiting those four national championship trophies in front of these kids. And we had nothing to do with that,” Hurley said. “And we removed them about 18 months ago when we started feeling like we had put something together that could make a run at getting a fifth.”