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Dan Hurley writes a new chapter for UConn
In his fifth year, Hurley has silenced doubters by winning a national championship with a team that was unranked at the start of the season.
The UConn Huskies are national champions.
It’s an outcome that seemed improbable in October, a near certainty in December, and then impossible in January. But Dan Hurley had a vision for how he could turn this year’s team into a winner and it worked.
“It feels great to come through on promises made by me to all the great people of Connecticut and then with these guys. This was our vision. This was our dream. This is what we talked about when we recruited these guys, that we could get together and do something big like this,” Hurley said after the game.
True to form, the Huskies were mostly calm, cool, and collected as they dispatched San Diego State in Monday night’s national championship game, 76-59.
The only drama came when a lead that was as large as 15 in the middle of the second half got cut down to five with 5:19 left. Jordan Hawkins responded with a three that kicked off a 9-0 run as UConn effectively put the game away.
“Coach drew something up for me. I know he trusted me to make that shot. I had to make it…credit to my teammates for getting me open on those screens and coach for trusting me,” Hawkins said.
Tristen Newton was a big part of the game plan. Though he had five turnovers he also led the team with his 19 points and 10 rebounds while dishing four assists and going 8-8 from the free-throw line. He credited “my teammates and the spacing we had and the coaches for believing in me and telling me to be aggressive today.”
Adama Sanogo’s excellence continued, with 17 points and 10 rebounds, including five offensive, while also going 7-8 from the free-throw line. He was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
“He's obviously cemented himself into the pantheon…with all the production and back-to-back First Team All-League, [and] to have the national championship…He's an all-time great,” Hurley said.
Hurley himself is making a case to be named among the great coaches in college basketball. He built a certified juggernaut in the era of NIL and the transfer portal, and appears poised to be a top dog in the Big East for years to come. If he’s recruiting at such a high level already, that should only get better after this year’s success.
The Hartford Courant’s Dom Amore noted that Hurley emphasized “we have our own now” with respect to a national championship in this era, crawling out of the low point this program was at in 2018.
“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. “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.”
“[We] said we don't want any trophies in here until we've got our own.”
Now that he has his own title, Hurley said he can feel a little bit more comfortable around the coaching legends he encounters at the office.
“When you're in a place like that, it's a little bit empty until you feel like you can join the club. I feel like now we've held up our end of the bargain that the women's team has been carrying for so long since forever. It seems like. And Coach Calhoun and Kevin Ollie, Geno, it feels good to accomplish what they've done.”