We’ll take five.
Five years after Dan Hurley arrived as head coach, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team won the program’s fifth NCAA national championship in Houston on Monday night, overcoming a tough, persistent San Diego State University team to win 76-59.
“We had the four national championships coming in,” Hurley said moments after the game. “We’ve been striving for number five, and now we got our own.”
A Welcome Home rally for the team is scheduled to be held today at Gampel Pavilion, with doors opening at 4 p.m. and the team expected to arrive around 5 p.m. Students, faculty, staff, and fans who want to attend need to obtain a free ticket by visiting UConnHuskies.com.
In Storrs on Monday night, a capacity crowd celebrated at Gampel Pavilion, rushing the floor with a minute left in the game. They were joined by students at impromptu gatherings around the University, as well as alumni and fans across the length and breadth of UConn Nation.
“Five national titles since 1999,” wrote Meghan Bard ’03 (CLAS) on Twitter. “I don’t care what you call UConn, but none of your blue bloods have done that.”
The program’s first national championship since 2014 came after years of frustration, including two first-round exits from the NCAA tournament in 2021 and 2022. But this season, Hurley’s team played like they had something to prove, winning every single game – by double-digit margins – against opponents from outside the Big East conference.
“They buried us before the season, and then they buried us in the mid-point,” Hurley said after the game. “We had the chip on our shoulder.”
The team maintained that motivation during the entirety of a tournament that included everything from the constant courtside presence of Bill Murray to a last-minute scramble to secure air travel to Houston for resident UConn Good Boy Jonathan XIV, winning their games by an average of 20 points.
“I told everyone this is a special team,” said junior forward Adama Sanogo, whose peerless play earned him the 2023 Most Outstanding Player of the Men’s NCAA Tournament award. “You see now?”
After congratulating the team on Monday night, Gov. Ned Lamont said a plan for a victory parade in Hartford was in the works.