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Connecticut’s bark has a national championship ring to it now
Question of the Day
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Connecticut Huskies lost their coach, their teammates, their chance to play at the NCAA tournament for a year. They were castoffs, unwanted mutts without a home, told they had no chance.
Well, look who’s woofing now.
Playing with a chip-on-their-shoulder mentality and poise down the stretch, UConn starred in the underdog role for the second time in four years, knocking off Kentucky 60-54 Monday night in North Texas.
“It feels so good to prove the world wrong,” UConn junior guard Ryan Boatright said.
It was quite a journey to get here.
UConn won a national title in 2011 behind do-it-all guard Kemba Walker. One setback after another followed.
The Huskies were barred from the 2013 tournament for failing to meet NCAA academic standards. They scrambled to find a home after the Big East blew up, landing in the American Athletic Conference.
UConn fought its way through last season, winning 20 games despite no hope of playing in the postseason, yet still was dismissed heading into this season.
The Huskies turned a few heads with an opening nine-game winning streak, but were given little chance of making a run after stumbling late in the season.
UConn continued to go against the grain of public opinion as it advanced through the bracket, beating the odds while knocking off Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State and top-seeded Florida to reach the championship game.
Again, the Huskies were not supposed to win, told they were no match for the length and athleticism of Kentucky’s one-and-done freshmen, expected to get run over by those speedy ‘Cats.
Again, they wouldn’t listen.
Relying on its veteran leaders, UConn jumped to a big early lead, kept its composure whenever Kentucky tried to make a run and counterpunched every time the Wildcats landed a blow.
Senior Shabazz Napier took what he learned from Walker, his mentor, and became the leader who took the Huskies to a title, finishing with 22 points and six rebounds to bookend his career with national championships.
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