UConn once shocked the world. Now it looks like a dynasty.

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By journalsofus.com

UConn’s national championship run last year may have triggered its men’s basketball blue-blood acceptance letter, but it wasn’t until months later that I found myself tracking a teenage boy’s day-to-day activities. , it became clear that the program was on the verge of becoming something much more than it had been over the past three-plus decades.

The Huskies have had a number of top prospects since Jim Calhoun became head coach in the late ’80s, but were rarely in the mix for future superstars. 1 choose to pass on college as a point of NBA draft order. However, Cooper Flagg was an inflection point. The mega-prospect who generated Zion-esque buzz via bizarre highlight reels not only hailed from New England, but also had roots on the current roster: His mother played with Donovan Clingan’s mother in Maine. ; The future teammates also held a special (and really touching) photo shoot, in which they both attended wore my mom’s college jersey, Flagg may also have had a portrait of Mark Twain tattooed on his back; This was the grind that was promised, here to take the program to another level. And so everything from their social media likes to their official visits became a daily news bulletin for sick people like me, whose families had grown up with Huskies as a part of everyday life.

Of course, it didn’t matter. Flagg ultimately chose Duke, like Williamson and many other future NBA stars before him. But his rejection of UConn matters for two very important reasons: (1) It gave us This photo Flag has a burning pitchfork in his hand, which will surely to be useful throughout his career, and (2) it was an important reminder that UConn is not Duke. Duke never lived. I never wanted to be a duke.

It’s very hard for me to reconcile this new era of the Huskies, who became men’s champions for the first time since the Florida Gators with a 75-60 victory over Purdue in the national title game on Monday. Yes, as we know, it’s nice to be widely acknowledged as a “blue blood” along with the schools that make college basketball. But this elitist filth directly contradicts the program’s core identity. It may be hard to remember now, as the signal for the university bell to ring is slowly counting down. Envelopes I-84, but UConn made its bones as the underdog team, the team that “shocked the world.” For most of its history, UConn’s program has, for all intents and purposes, been the anti-Duke – an egotistical, salt-of-the-earth production led by a coach who refused to give a dime back to help with the budget deficit. done.

The old Huskies were not necessarily dominant, even during their national title seasons. Of the four championships they won under Calhoun and successor Kevin Ollie, three were improbable at best: they won theirs by knocking off the Blue Devils’ budding dynasty in 1999 and later won two more championships in 2011 and 2014, Almost exclusively through his heroics against poor (and often hungry) scoring guards, leading to one of the most miraculous runs in recent tournament history. And while its fourth championship team, in 2004, won everything with relative ease, its next competitive bid marked one of the program’s lowest moments: a then-historic storehouse of NBA talent that toiled through three joyless losing seasons. And only got upset by George Fucking Mason in the Elite Eight.

On the other hand, the present day Huskies are an extreme juggler. Sixth-year coach Dan Hurley won his first national title last season, with UConn recording the fourth-largest average tournament margin of victory in the 64-team era. Then the program came back even better this season. UConn lost just one non-conference game (without elite freshman Stephon Cassel, by four points) and three games overall in the regular season, somehow stringing together a 30–0 win in the Elite Eight games, and by the largest margin. Won another ring with. Of victory. Two-time national player of the year Zach Ade stunned UConn with his amazing size for the first 18 minutes on Monday, and then … the Huskies slowly but surely took control, gaining momentum midway through the second half Gained an unassailable lead with the cross. -Board size, skill and stiffness.

These new Huskies are tremendous, the way the KD-era Warriors often were for NBA competition, but what’s most surprising is the accuracy. Suppose, the crimes of the past were simple; In retrospect, the unintended benefits of making something, anything, with single digits on the shot clock for four months may have been due to stellar performances from Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier. Conversely, watching the ball and bodies bounce around in Hurley’s league-best attack feels like waking up to a future with flying cars. The versatility up and down this roster is staggering; Virtually every player can pass, dribble, and screen, and the ones who can’t even shoot are huge athletes with great experience who will happily dunk on your head.

Hurley’s group has talent; Cassel may not be in flag territory, but he is a consensus top-10 recruit and a potential top-10 selection in the upcoming NBA Draft. But beyond that, UConn has used zero top-50 recruits in its rotation in any title run. Even Clingan, another projected lottery pick, was rated the 14th best center in his class before Hurley broke out the now-beloved doofus from Bristol, Connecticut.

If there’s a secret sauce here, it might be the transfer portal. The same coach who recently took a dig at the new transfer rules by comparing them to undergarments has used them to make up a third of his rotation, including his starting backcourt. And while Clingan’s play at the rim has time and again been the differentiator for this team — including Monday, when he scored just 11 points, but had a strong performance with a 300-pound AD on one end and nearly every offensive possession Set up 37 screens – highlighted by Tristan Newton and Cam Spencer, two fifth-year seniors who are flexible enough to initiate the catch or shoot and also have the size and physicality to pull off rebounds in traffic Are. (Spencer, the shortest starter at 6 feet 4 inches, had eight rebounds alone against Purdue.) It’s probably no coincidence that as Kentucky reconsidered the one-and-done worldview that had shaped the game for more than a decade Does, UConn has pulled off a lead on the field by relying on 20 guys who are so experienced that they have developed the kind of versatility on which a modern offense thrives.

But it would be damaging for Hurley to pin the Huskies’ success solely on the market’s exploited inefficiencies. No one could have imagined that UConn would hire a more prickly head coach than Calhoun, yet Hurley has exceeded even that high standard: In the last two years alone, he called an official before halftime a “fucking clown.” ” has been caught saying and challenging two different fan For fights. On Monday, he pushed Spencer in the game mid-dribble and then called him out, complaining of a violation. “I’m an ass sometimes,” he said. recently, Needless to say, UConn fans love him. But while there may be some real anger management issues here, causing concern about burnout in those around him, he also has the talent of a showman and has a clear understanding of what he gets from his takedowns. How to take advantage of all the attention happening. His Press Achievements were created for social media; When talking about recruiting in the days leading up to this year’s title game, it seemed like he was cutting a promo for joining the nWo: “We’re really looking forward to getting our type of guys. ,” he told reporters. “We don’t kiss kid’s ass during recruiting. We don’t kiss it when they’re on campus.”

That work hard, we do it the hard way routine might as well come with an NCAA manual. Upon taking over Calhoun, Ollie famously declared that his teams would only climb stairs, not escalators; He managed to win a championship two years later, but missed the tournament twice as often. But the script seems more honest from Hurley, the scion of the first family of East Coast basketball, who has admitted that he almost gave up during his playing days because he didn’t live up to the standards of his father, a Hall of Fame high school coach. Could get down. , and his brother, Duke’s star point guard. He is, at the same time, both an outsider and an institution – the coach who built eight-win Rhode Island into a mid-major powerhouse and then heeded the advice of Coach K, a confidant in his youth, who Told him the time had come. Increase.

Now, after winning two consecutive titles (in half the time it took Krzyzewski to accomplish the same feat), Hurley has catapulted UConn into the stratosphere — from joining the Blue-Blood Club and running for a seat on the High Council Beyond. Only two schools have a total of more than six men’s basketball national championships, the Huskies, and in the lead up to Monday’s title game, the fan base for one of them was Lower Also for an exploratory phone call with Hurley.

In the wake of the Huskies’ First Four championships, there came an inevitable comeback, a grace period of unknown length. We enjoyed the thrill because we weren’t quite sure when it would happen again. With his entire starting lineup likely to turn professional, Hurley will also need time to reload — though zero money is being made by encroaching competitors like G League Ignite, recruiting NBA talent, either. Out of school or in the portal, the final reloading can serve as a trump card.

But for the first time, anything seems possible for what’s next at UConn — whether it’s going toe-to-toe with Duke for another All-World prospect or perhaps becoming a Duke for a new generation. The Huskies’ amazing races stunned the world. Now they have complete dominance.

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