Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taking stock of just how impressive UConn's national championship success has been

Watching Duke win its fifth national championship Monday night and move ahead of UConn on the all-time national-title list got me to thinking of one thing: just how remarkable UConn's four national titles in a 16-season span really was.

Now, I'm not a UConn fan. Didn't grow up as one and, now as a beat writer, I try to be as objective as possible in covering the team. But it's hard not to be impressed by what the program has accomplished, with national titles in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014 (and let's not forget a trip to the Final Four in 2009, as well).

Think about it. Only five programs have won more national titles than UConn: UCLA with 12, Kentucky with eight, and North Carolina, Indiana and now Duke with five. But it's taken Duke 25 seasons to win its five; it had won four in a 20-season span. Indiana's span of championships stretches from 1940 to 1987 -- 48 seasons. The Hoosiers best stretch was three titles in 12 seasons (1976-1987).

North Carolina won two titles in five seasons but its best four-title stretch spanned 28 seasons. Remember, before winning in 1982 with a roster stacked with Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins, Dean Smith had the reputation as a coach who could never win the big one.

Kentucky once won three titles in four seasons (1948, '49 and '51) and four in 11 seasons ('48, '49, '51 and '58) but that was an entirely different era -- one in which famed coach Adolph Rupp never recruited a black player. In the more modern era (let's say post-1966, in which Texas Western's all-black starting five beat Rupp's Wildcats for the title), UK never won four titles in a 16-season span. It won two in three years and three over a 17-season span, but that's as close as we get.

Only UCLA's incredible run of seven straight titles and 10 in a 12-season span dating from the mid-60s to mid-70s tops UConn's run. And that was a whole different era, as well, one in which fewer teams reached the NCAA tournament and (like the UConn women nowadays) most of the nation's great players gravitated to John Wooden and Pauley Pavilion.

UConn has one more national title than Kansas, a blueblood program founded by James Naismith himself, and Louisville, the program that got picked for the ACC over UConn in part because of its great basketball heritage. It's got two more than Michigan State, which spawned Magic Johnson and Tom Izzo (who, believe it or not, has actually lost games in the NCAA tournament).

And how about the storied basketball programs that have only one national title to their names: Syracuse, Georgetown, Arizona, Maryland, Villanova, and more football-oriented schools like Michigan and Ohio State.

Heck, the team Duke beat Monday night, Wisconsin, had only been to one prior national championship game -- in 1941, before Jim Calhoun had celebrated his first birthday.

It goes on and on. Let's name a few schools that, when you hear their names, you think, "Pretty darn good basketball program.":

Wake Forest: Tobacco Road occupant along with Duke, Carolina and NC State and alma mater of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, to name just a couple. It's been to one Final Four (in 1962) and never played in the national championship game.

Purdue: Big Ten stalwart smack dab in the middle of basketball heaven, Indiana. Rick Mount. Gene Keady. The Boilermakers have been to two Final Fours (1969, 1980) and one national championship game, losing to UCLA in '69. (Though they were crowned the 1932 national champs by the Helms Athletic Foundation, seven years before the Big Dance!).

St. John's: Great Big East program of the 1980's. Chris Mullin. Louie Carnesecca. Walter Berry. Ron Artest. New York City's biggest Division 1 hoops program has been to two Final Fours, and finished as national runners-up once. In 1952.

Pittsburgh: Another former beast of the Big East, one that always gave UConn regular-season fits in recent years. The Panthers have been to exactly one Final Four. In 1941, months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Virginia: Another AAC "powerhouse" that spawned Ralph Sampson and was a media darling for much of this season before sputtering out in the Round-of-32.  Two Final Fours, never played in the national championship game.

Georgia Tech? Two Final Fours, one national championship game in 2004 (you know how that one ended). Texas? Yeah, more of a football school, but Kevin Durant's alma mater has been to three Final Fours and just one (2003) since 1947. The Longhorns have never played in the national championship game. Notre Dame? Again, a football school, but no pushover in hoops. One Final Four, way back in 1978. Zero national title game appearances.

Even some of the teams that have garnered a reputation in recent years as being NCAA tournament upstarts really haven't accomplished a whole lot. I didn't even realize until it was pointed out this March that Gonzaga still hasn't been to the Final Four. VCU's 2011 run from the "First Four" to the Final Four was exciting, but it hasn't done much otherwise.

Now there are a few outliers. Florida won two titles in a row in 2006-07; NC State's got a pair of titles (1974, '83), as does Cincinnati (way back in 1961-62). And you've got to respect Butler getting to consecutive national championship games in 2010 and '11 and falling a Gordon Heyward desperation 3-pointer away from winning one of them.

But try this on for size: Providence (for you younger fans) actually does have a pretty impressive college basketball history. The Friars spawned Dave Gavitt, who formed the Big East; Jimmy Walker, Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes, and coaches like Gavitt, Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes. They went to the Final Four in 1973 (losing to Bill Walton's Bruins, with Marvin Barnes sidelined by injury) and 1987 (behind Pitino and an overachieving guard named Billy Donovan).

Yet the Friars haven't won an NCAA tournament game since 1997. In that span, UConn has won four national titles, been to five Final Fours, and won 41 NCAA tournament games.

Let that roll around your tongue for a while as you realize just how fortunate you've been as a Husky fan since 1999.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

its all come full circle. this anticoach is at less than yankee conference standards. dee rowe , dom perno, greer and shabel; the yank conf coaches along wit burr carlson make antiwon on qualified for MEAC end game. this antieins coodnt recruit a monkey to banana plantain plantation in banana peel of a banana republic

April 7, 2015 at 4:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woodens teems were bankrolled by uclan boosters to tunes of cars, condos, etc per walton and other playas. uclan bogus toto. only nineteen ninetyfivr when tinny tyus miraculized mizzou and in biggness ate uclans ran over rarrayray to posterize herr chokeee

April 8, 2015 at 4:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UCONN foyer four more prestigious das modern era opposed pukes fiver et kentuck fourer cuse zwei de chien were head to noggin vs puke et kentook zo by process of elim errant UCONN 4 still > puker 5 et still > kentook 4 zo by pro cess pool das homerism UCONN HUSKIES still undisputed heavy wait champion of das monde arrond iss ment gay Paris dans monde moderne

April 8, 2015 at 4:33 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

N.B. das author ; nineteen seventy five began modern era cuse ncaa nowsa let more than une teem per conf compete in its post sez on of witch/UCONN still kingpin of era butt follyoleee kaputting end to it shortly et longly/ncaa titles between 1938-1974 all very tainted et each not worth much compared to modern era dew to multitude reeezons. nowsa monsieur author an article about das reasons wood be good if yo would . eye nose em. mais beez yo fans wood appreciate two nose

April 8, 2015 at 4:42 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

results indy kate das herr anticoach coodnt recroot a banana to a banana republic. since ol antiwon pull monster buckaroos bANKLEY mais beez afford anti biotic zo quit anticat act et dooz a pro move for onceley

April 8, 2015 at 10:38 AM 
Blogger Jerry S said...

North Carolina actually win 2 in a 5 year span (2005 and 009)

April 8, 2015 at 10:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nort carolineee bogus: never use academic permissible playas, their doods sit in dorm to play video games and then ate and gooz practice foul breth/vaug to game in chapel hiilll when rashad anderson duel that deadly j shooter that blew whisle on tarheeled on tv-that j mon was not eligible when he beet husky silly that daze-NB tar babys not in any bonafide chat everever

April 9, 2015 at 9:33 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anticoach needy gooz PRO Pronto. since rood lil dood knot recroot convince banana off banana boat. anticoach twos nba or dev leeg or euro leeg or wnba or anywho that by playas iz wayz four anticoach to beez pro coach eese

April 9, 2015 at 9:39 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speak English if you expect anyone to care what you have to say

April 9, 2015 at 12:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

antiwon never beez top banana cuse that preechermanz banana oil in banana hammock justly beez banana skin off bonana boat left or wright or center of banana head anticoachin

April 10, 2015 at 1:01 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

didz yo seize ol anticoach in tizzy dizzy deperado mode? antiwon beez in tampa chatin i i meens chapin iiii meens chatin up notha biggy project; knot dat repeetrinserepeet jive. wit kenihopnolanamoebabyebyelubinenocheunuch yo thank au contraire une seize enuff this sillyness. but know, follyole wants more of same. like he gots any chance. dis tampa project luv gators. that dont stop anti1. villanova had wimpee assistant in tampa to chap up project. anti un donts get it. dis cort jester unstoppable wit funny stuff. at leest follyole go big time into chaotic next campaign when dogs dont danghang wit directional floridacarolinee conf goofs

April 10, 2015 at 7:24 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

antiwon visit recroot. didz yo pass SAT young yearling hoolahooper? oui anticoach. what yo score? my score reported top percentile. et what dad beez particulate? SAT , S=slow, A=articulate, T=terrible. anti1 exclaim: yo perfecto four mine teeming teem . . . dat dookydudette proud meesa APR

April 10, 2015 at 2:35 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

antiwon hit trail das recruiting. antiune luv all playas dans trails. antieins many step froms time. antidood tell student atleet foot yo nice et gets schollie. student of game say "anythang else moi get?" antirooddood say thats alot to gets. student say i wants more. anticoach say yo knot nice et bye bye. N.B.-all yo fav hoolahoop boy sign up for storr if yo just include snowblower in offer package zo each rooddood able go practice

April 10, 2015 at 10:44 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

iz bored de trustees bring write IQ to qualify two matriculate duh storr if pretend dey undergrad again? if day approved dookdebt + dookdettes hot lanta head hunter executive global search & destroy placement industrycompanyfirmcorporateinc et said heavyindustrials parked duh rockstar on storr shelf et parked rockstar in buffalo previously and parked fiasco wit rent et parked at foundation twos meesa tinks those fine citizens needy SAT redooz redux i i i meens redo

April 11, 2015 at 4:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ever here dis expression: "the UCONNS" startin lineup for this evening or the UCONNS win again or the UCONNS visit Madison Square Garden next weak/ever sea a player wit a jersey that sez UCONNS on the front/ meesa did knot tink zo; dat meen yo knot bonafide fandom; ever walk in duh storr campusnous; ever matriculate History 110 wit syllabus of more than vingt books; did knot tink zo Y yo no go go mo bo bo doe doe foe foe woe woe yoe yoe. History won ten teech history dooz repeet selfie rinse repeet. guess what happen in history wit coaches in the storr whom was UCONNS player mon earlier in life. anticoach beez former playa if yo kall a bench dood a former playa. cheque yo history booker two seize hows dis ends-bye bye

April 12, 2015 at 5:39 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

herr au contraire knot plaize fair. monsieur contre une rapidity vaporize magnificant American Kennel Club Johannes Siberiena Huskeyness twosa Chupacabra worst in show mon ship

April 13, 2015 at 12:13 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fiasco et follyoli cant recroot zo both decide a water boyz procurement will enhance their respective programs. naturally they gooz to big bosses to gets complete approval to enlist very superior excellent exemplary assistance from dookdudebts et michelinis favorite Hot Lanta Headhunter to gets the job done i i meens not i mmeeens maisbeez. all for important jones confab that since the water boyz dey wants is bobbiboooshay they shouldnt go cheep. all agree since h2o boyz fill deux slots in zwei programs they beez veri nice et pay double recrootin placement fee to favorite head honcho huntin georgia duds i i meens dudes. since it only cost 90K plus 10% expenses these for gooz big time and pay, what duh heck, at leest 200K four these superior services that have previously destoyed doggy stylin sports but mais beez this time it beez goods

April 13, 2015 at 11:51 PM 
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September 30, 2015 at 7:48 AM 

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