UConn’s success envied around nation, especially in N.J.
APRIL 8, 2014, 10:55 PM LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014, 12:48 AM
BY TARA SULLIVAN
This was before the opening tipoff, before her Connecticut women’s basketball team routed Notre Dame for a second consecutive national championship, before Stefanie Dolson helped turn Storrs, Conn., into the college basketball’s epicenter. Dolson, a senior center who would go out and dismantle the Fighting Irish with 17 points and 16 rebounds, was asked if she’d heard any words of advice from the previous night’s national champions, otherwise known as her male counterparts back at UConn.
Dolson said she and her teammates had received texts from the men’s players that said, “One more game to go – you got this.”
That they did.
For the second night in a row, a Connecticut team outran, out-jumped and out-hustled the opposition; and for the second night in a row, Connecticut was the last college basketball team standing, finishing off a male-female double-double championship for the second time in school history.
The school that was supposed to be left behind is on top of the world.
With a wire-to-wire 79-58 win over previously undefeated Notre Dame in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday night, the Connecticut women didn’t simply finish off a perfect 40-0 season, but improved to 9-0 in national title games under head coach Geno Auriemma. One night earlier, the UConn men’s team defeated Kentucky, winning its second national title in four years, and fourth overall.
Between second-year coach Kevin Ollie and predecessor Jim Calhoun, the men’s team is also perfect in four championship games.
Connecticut’s position among the country’s elite athletic programs is indisputable, a testament to a long, sustained and successful building project that is the envy of schools across the land.
Nowhere is that shade of green deeper than amid the sea of Rutgers red, where a floundering department feels so far away from the superior level Connecticut projected to the world across a dominant month of March.