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UConn Men's Season For The Ages

Admit it, office bracketologists, many of you didn't think the University of Connecticut Huskies would go far in the NCAA tournament. And your skepticism was not without reason; most of the time, Goliath beats David.

Well, David just hit the big guy in the forehead five times in a row. The Huskies defeated St. Joseph's, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State and top-ranked Florida to get to last night's championship game, where they defeated the favored University of Kentucky Wildcats to bring a fourth national championship to Storrs.

What a tournament run. What a remarkable season.

Let us remember that the storied UConn men's basketball program was an afterthought last year, ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of academic sanctions incurred several years ago. A few top players transferred, and one wonders how they feel this week. The group that stayed came together and scrapped their way into the 2014 tournament.

Many thought the Huskies would fail to advance beyond the first round, never mind win the final round. As much as anything, Shabazz Napier and his mates won it with relentless defense. Going into last night's game, UConn was limiting teams to 39 percent shooting from the floor and 65.8 points in the postseason, plus forcing 13.2 turnovers per game.

And perhaps the luckiest man in America this week is Coach Kevin Ollie's agent. Mr. Ollie had the unenviable job of following the hugely successful Jim Calhoun. It's hard to follow a legend in any managerial job — business executive, police chief, Army general, name it — but Mr. Ollie has done it. He is a passionate teacher and excellent tactician, a Calhoun with better tailored suits and fewer linguistic flourishes.

And, UConn fans, the season isn't over. Tonight the undefeated UConn women's team faces undefeated Notre Dame for the women's national championship, the first time two undefeated teams have met in the final.

Connecticut will be a sleepy state on Wednesday morning, but hopefully a happy one.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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