College basketball is changing. UConn’s crushing superiority stays the same (2024)

The University of Connecticut already had a men’s basketball dynasty. How else to describe a program that had won five national titles since 1999, with those victories coming under three different head coaches? If dynasties are hereditary, the Huskies passed theirs from Jim Calhoun to Kevin Ollie to their current boss, Dan Hurley. All that happened on Monday night was a set of affirmations – that Hurley has built something even better than Connecticut had before. And that, for now, the only other team that compares is Dawn Staley’s unbeaten South Carolina in the women’s game.

A 75-60 win over Purdue in the national championship game was a master class in every sense. The Boilermakers had a player who has been the best in men’s college basketball for two years: the running, hulking center Zach Edey. Hurley’s team had a plan, which revealed itself as the night went on: UConn would take their chances and let Edey bang away near the basket, but they would otherwise cut Purdue’s strengths out from under them. The Boilermakers were one of the country’s best three-point-shooting teams all season, making more than 40% of their shots from beyond the arc. On Monday, they went 1-for-7 from that range. Edey’s 37 points didn’t matter when the other Purdue players had 23 combined. UConn’s scoring attack, on the other hand, came in waves, a perfect testament to the depth Hurley has built at his outpost in Storrs, Connecticut.

NCAA Tournament: UConn crush Purdue to retain men’s national titleRead more

Hurley is flatly the best coach in men’s college basketball right now. His profession is at a generational crossroads, as several legends of the game have retired over the past few years, or will soon. (So long, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, and Jay Wright.) Not exactly young at 51 but with lots of career left if he wants it, Hurley has established himself as the leader of a new generation of college coaches. He has done that by winning: Two national titles in a row put him in rare air, and all 12 opponents in the past two NCAA tournaments lost to him by at least 13 points. “What could you say? We won. By a lot, again,” Hurley told reporters afterward. Indeed they did.

But Hurley’s Connecticut stand out for their manner of victory as much as the extent of it. He has staged his ascent at a moment of change in college sports. Players can now collect money from third parties, and the combination of those payments and recently loosened transfer rules mean that roster management is nothing like what it was in the days of Hurleys’ retired peers. At the same time, programs that rely too heavily on the recruitment of high school superstars have fallen short in tournament after tournament. Kentucky’s John Calipari, the poster boy for that method, looks to be bolting.

In that chaotic environment, UConn are a picture of stability. The Huskies do recruit NBA talent. Several players from last year’s champs have joined the league, and more are coming. (Guard Stephon Castle and center Donovan Clingan are about to become wealthy young men.) But the Huskies are not a magnet for legions of star recruits who leave college after one season, even if Castle soon does. At the same time, Hurley has worked the transfer portal effectively without blocking the growth of too many players on his own roster. Tristen Newton, the guard who led this team in scoring, played three years at East Carolina before joining up at UConn and playing a vital role on back-to-back title teams.

None of this is all that splashy, and it’s why a program that has two titles in two years and six in 26 will never have the same mainstream cachet of Duke or Kentucky. Those programs are eternal stopovers for future top NBA picks, and they hold a cultural perch that will remain elusive to everyone else. The genius of Connecticut is that the Huskies don’t care about those style points, nor have they let a lack of them prevent the program from lapping the likes of Duke and Kentucky in recent championships. (Since the turn of the century, the count of championships is UConn five, Duke and Kentucky a combined four.)

UConn have done their business over a long enough timespan that there is not much reason to expect it to abate soon. The Huskies have had a few messy down years, but their success has been stunningly durable given the transformations that have occurred around them. They have not only won it all under three coaches but in what amounts to three different conferences. They won their first three men’s titles in the old edition of the Big East, which had a handful of Eastern religious colleges and a mix of secular schools that have since made football-driven moves to other leagues. UConn did too, for a moment, and won another title in the American Athletic. They returned home to a reconstituted Big East after realizing that the move made no sense. Two more titles have flowed forth.

All of which is to say: Nobody knows how long Hurley will be at UConn. Nobody knows how the team’s roster may change from year to year. But everyone knows the Huskies have become one of a kind. And after Monday, even fewer could protest that they have crafted a multi-generational dynasty.

College basketball is changing. UConn’s crushing superiority stays the same (2024)


Did Dan Hurley play in the NBA? ›

Despite playing five college seasons as a point guard at Seton Hall (including two seasons as a starter), Hurley never played in the NBA. Rather than pursuing a basketball career in the United States or overseas, Hurley turned to coaching in 1996, joining his high school's coaching staff as an assistant.

How many NCAA men's basketball championships has UConn won? ›

It is the Huskies men's team's sixth championship overall, and they have won every time they made it to the finals, including in 1999, 2004, 2011, 2014 and 2023. UConn also became just the eighth program in men's college basketball history to win consecutive titles.

Who was UConn coach in 2014? ›

However, before Dan Hurley secured back-to-back titles for the program, it was Ollie who last led the Huskies to the promised land in 2014.

When was the last time UConn men's basketball was ranked #1? ›

1 in AP poll for 1st time since 2009, Gonzaga falls out. Connecticut has followed last year's run to the NCAA championship with its first No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press men's college basketball poll in nearly 15 years, while Gonzaga has fallen out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in eight years.

Is coach Dan Hurley related to Bobby Hurley? ›

Early life and education. Hurley was born to Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. and Christine Hurley on January 16, 1973, in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was raised with his siblings Bobby and Melissa.

What did Dan Hurley say to Zach Edey? ›

So, I don't think I ever said anything to Zach, but I definitely glared at him because I wanted to send him a message about our intensity and such." And Edey glared back. "A man of his stature and accomplishment? He glared back, but we broke the stare at the same time," Hurley said.

Is UConn a blue blood? ›

However, UConn's women's team is considered a blue blood, having won 11 NCAA championships. Tennessee has also been noted by sports media writers to be a blue blood in women's basketball. South Carolina has been considered a blue blood in women's basketball.

Has UConn men's basketball ever won a national championship? ›

Since 1999, the Huskies have won six national championships in a span of 25 years, a run only rivaled by UCLA under John Wooden. In 2024, UConn became the eighth school in NCAA history to win back-to-back national championships, and was the first to do so in 17 years.

Has UConn ever won a NCAA championship? ›

The UConn men's basketball team has won a sixth national title. The team defeated Purdue, 75-60, on Monday night to become back-to-back national champions. The Huskies are 6-0 in national championship games and the first team to win consecutive national titles since Florida won in 2006 and 2007.

How long did Jim Calhoun coach at UConn? ›

Calhoun retired as Connecticut's basketball coach on September 13, 2012, closing a 26-year career at UConn.

How long has Geno Auriemma been coaching UConn? ›

Geno Auriemma
Current position
1979–1981Bishop Kenrick HS (assistant)
1981–1985Virginia (assistant)
Head coaching record
26 more rows

How long has Danny Hurley been the coach at UConn? ›

Hurley was introduced Saturday as a two-time national champion by athletic director David Benedict, the man who hired him and introduced him six years ago, in March 2018.

Did UConn win as a 7 seed? ›

That 2014 final also gave us the highest total seed value for a championship game as No. 7 UConn took down No. 8 Kentucky for the title.

Has UConn ever been Final Four? ›

What years did UConn make the Final Four? Since their first appearance in 1991, the Huskies have made numerous trips to the Final Four, including in 1995, 1996, and consecutively from 2000 to 2024, marking a consistent presence in college basketball's most prestigious stage.

Does Dan Hurley's son play for UConn? ›

Yes, Andrew is Dan's son. He's the younger of the UConn head coach's two sons. Danny Hurley is the older son, who graduated from his father's alma mater Seton Hall. Andrew joined the UConn men's basketball team in 2020-21 as a freshman walk-on.

How many championships does Dan Hurley have? ›

Conference Champion: 2 Times (Reg. Seas.), 2 Times (Tourn.)

How many NBA players did Bob Hurley coach? ›

Bob produced over 150 players to Division I programs, and six of them became first-round NBA draft picks. He was offered various college coaching jobs, but Bob turned them all down. Bob remained at St. Anthony's through the 2016-17 season, then the school announced it would close at the conclusion of that year.

Did Jimmy King play professional basketball? ›

Professional career

King was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the second round (35th overall) of the 1995 NBA draft and played 62 games for them during the 1995–96 season, averaging 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

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