STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Shabazz Napier and Niels Giffey were texting Stefanie Dolson on Monday moments after the UConn women beat Texas A&M; to earn their way into the Final Four.
The guys were making fun of her postgame television interview and teasing her over a reverse layup she had made after putting the ball high off the glass.
But most of all, they were congratulating her for helping to secure the school’s bragging rights as the college basketball capital of the nation.
“That’s the magic about UConn,” Giffey said Tuesday as his team prepared to leave campus for Dallas and their own Final Four. “You just have those two big-time programs and everyone gets along really well.”
The women’s 69-54 win, coupled with the men’s 60-54 upset of Michigan State on Sunday, advanced both UConn teams to the national semifinals in the same year for the fourth time.
“We were in the hotel room and watching their game, and when we realized they won and made it to the Final Four, we all ran out to the hallway screaming and excited,” Dolson said. “It’s just a camaraderie between the two teams, and it’s pretty special and something not a lot of schools have.”
There have been just seven other schools that have sent both its men’s and women’s team to Final Fours in the same year.
Louisville did it last season. Georgia was the first to do it in 1983.
The feat has also been accomplished by Duke, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan State and LSU.
But UConn is the only school to do it more than once.
In 2004 they went a step further, becoming the only school to win both the men’s and women’s national titles.
The teams have appeared in a combined 20 Final Fours since 1991.
“What’s happened and what’s happening is just nothing short of remarkable, and the only people who probably don’t celebrate it enough are the people in Connecticut - us,” women’s coach Geno Auriemma said Monday.
“We at times take this stuff for granted that, yeah, we’re UConn and we’re supposed to be there. I like that, but I think every once in a while we should sit back and go, ‘What we’ve done is absolutely remarkable.’”
The teams open each season bonding in a joint practice they call “First Night.” This year, for the first time, that included a scrimmage, with each coach leading a mixed roster of men and women against each other.