NCAAB - BIG EAST
Arena: Alaska Airlines Arena
Coach: Mike Hopkins
UConn Huskies Summary
UCONN coach Danny Hurley hasn’t helped the Huskies reach their old heights just yet — if he ever can — but has them on the right track. The 2021-22 UCONN team is off to an 11-4 start and has a 2-2 record in conference play, but has already shown its chops. Competing in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Huskies scored a win over nationally-ranked Auburn. UCONN has also picked up a nice non-conference victory over Virginia Commonwealth.
The Huskies, who have made the NCAA Tournament 33 times, are seeking their first back-to-back appearances in March Madness since qualifying in 2011 and 2012. UCONN did take a seven-year hiatus from the Big East when it moved to the American Athletic Conference with all of the other sports in the program. However, the marriage with the AAC was always an unhappy one and the recent turmoil in conference realignment allowed the Huskies a chance to go home.
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UConn Huskies History
UCONN has played basketball since 1901 but didn’t really hit its stride until they hired coach Jim Calhoun for the 1986-87 season. Before Calhoun came on board, the program had sporadic success but had never really seen much success on a national level. Before Calhoun came on board, the Huskies’ best finish was in 1964, when they reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before they were bounced by Duke.
The hiring of Calhoun transformed the team almost immediately. In his second season, Connecticut won the NIT. By the time he retired in 2012, Calhoun had won 625 games, took UCONN to the Final Four four times, and won the NCAA Tournament three times. Connecticut would add a fourth championship under Calhoun’s successor, Kevin Ollie, during the 2013-14 season. Ollie would later be fired for cause for improper actions, leading to Hurley taking over.
2022 Key Stats
UCONN is in the top 100 in several offensive categories this season. The Huskies average 80.3 points per game, which ranks 26th nationally. UCONN also shoots 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks 72nd nationally and are 10th in rebounds per game, pulling down 38.6 per contest. Defensively, the Huskies rank 25th by limiting their opponents to 39.2 percent shooting from the field.
R.J. Cole leads UCONN by averaging 16.4 and 4.9 assists per game. Adam Sanogo leads the Huskies in field goal percentage (54.8 percent) and rebounds (7.8 per game). Isaiah Whaley contributes 2.3 blocks per contest. Tyrese Martin also contributes 14.0 points per game for UCONN.
Championships Won by the Team
UCONN has a long list of postseason accolades. The Huskies have won the Big East Tournament seven times, which is the second-most in conference history behind Georgetown. Connecticut also won the 2016 American Athletic Conference title during the Huskies’ brief stint in the league. UCONN won its lone NIT title in 1988.
The Huskies have cut down the nets as national champions four times, capturing the title in 1999, 2004, 2011, and 2014. UCONN would also win the 1976 Yankee Conference tournament before the conference abandoned basketball following the 1975-76 season. The Huskies were regular-season champions of their respective conference — the Yankee and Big East — 31 times. UCONN won the Yankee Conference regular-season title every year from 1951-1960.
Important Team Events
After a decade of steady improvement under Calhoun, UCONN was primed for a breakthrough during the 1998-99 season. The Huskies finished the season 34-2 and captured the Big East regular season and conference championships. UCONN would march through the NCAA Tournament, beating UTSA, New Mexico, Iowa, Gonzaga, and Ohio State to reach the final.
The Huskies were nine-point underdogs to Duke, despite holding the No. 1 ranking for much of the season. Khalid El-Amin gave UCONN a three-point advantage in the title game, 77-74, by making two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining. A final shot by Duke at the buzzer wouldn’t fall and UCONN captured the program’s first-ever title. Richard Hamilton, who was named the MVP of the tournament, led the Huskies with 27 points in the final.
Ray Allen was one of the best shooters in basketball history and he got his start at UCONN before later becoming an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Allen averaged 46.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc his senior year at UCONN. Allen averaged 19 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game during his time with the Huskies.
Allen may have been one of UCONN’s more successful players post-college but didn’t quite have the team success Kemba Walker helped carry the Huskies to. Walker helped carry UCONN to a surprise run to the NCAA Tournament in 2011. The Huskies, which were seeded ninth in the Big East Tournament, rallied behind Walker, who averaged 23.5 points per game.
The Huskies closed the season with 11 straight wins to win their final title under Calhoun.
Calhoun has an argument for the best coach in NCAA history, not just limited to UCONN. Calhoun, who is also a tremendous curmudgeon, collected 625 wins against 243 losses during his time with the Huskies. UCONN won 10 Big East regular-season titles under his watch and won the conference tournament seven times.
Calhoun’s team was excellent once they got into the postseasons. During his four trips to the Final Four, he accrued a 6-1 record. Calhoun, who coached UCONN from 1986-2012, would end up helping 23 players reach the professional ranks?
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UCONN went to the Elite 8 in 1954.
The Yankee Conference, which folded its basketball conference following the 1975-76 season.