SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Connecticut Huskies really do have
it all: the All-America center, the flashy guards, the coach who
gets everything right, and now a national title, which they won
Led by 24 points from Emeka Okafor and 21 from Ben Gordon, the
Huskies outclassed Georgia Tech 82-73 last night to win the
championship many predicted they’d get from the very start of
They looked like champions from beginning to end, running when
they wanted, controlling the middle at other times, grabbing just
about every loose ball and making the Yellow Jackets look
UConn became the first team since the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats to
win the title after being ranked first in the preseason. The
Huskies wound up on top of the college basketball world, thanks to
a tall, quick, deep and talented roster put together by coach Jim
Calhoun missed making the Basketball Hall of Fame by one vote
this week. After the way he built and guided this team, it’s
hard to imagine why. He coached UConn to its second championship in
six seasons, and joined Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as the only
active coaches with multiple titles.
Today, tiny Storrs, Conn. — the home of the Huskies
— could become the undisputed capital of the basketball
universe. The women’s team takes on Tennessee in the title
game in New Orleans, and with a win, Connecticut would become the
first school to sweep both championships.
Some say the Huskies’ success starts with Okafor, the
All-American, who recorded his 24th double-double of the season and
overcame injuries that bothered him all year. Prowling the lane on
both ends, using his lanky 6-foot-10 frame to alter dozens of
shots, he dominated on offense and negated Tech’s Aussie
center, Luke Schenscher.
Early in the second half, Okafor kept his hands straight up and
denied three straight Tech attempts to get the ball toward the
basket. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt buried his head in his
hands and turned around toward the crowd. He couldn’t believe
there wasn’t a foul — or maybe he just couldn’t
stomach what was happening to his team.
By that point, the lead had grown to 20, and although
Tech’s furious rally cut the deficit to seven in the final
seconds, the outcome was never in doubt.