Roughly four years after Shabazz Napier led the Huskies to their fourth national championship, it’s time to reflect on one of the best tournament runs in NCAA history. The DC sports staff debates which 2014 tournament game was the best to watch as a fan.
Matthew Kren – Staff Writer
With 46.9 seconds left in the game, senior Shabazz Napier drives to the net and misses a layup as all hope looks lost. Down three points to St. Joe’s in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, freshman Amida Brimah grabs an offensive rebound and is able to hit an impressive hook shot and get fouled to tie the game. The 57 percent free throw shooter was able to swish the free throw and send the Huskies into overtime and onto the second round of the tournament. Obviously the Kentucky game is the easy answer as the best game, but the St. Joe’s game from start to finish was the most exciting and dramatic. As Verne Lundquist called live, “Oh Gosh! Out of all the unexpected offensive threats,” as Brimah was able to shock the audience and the Huskies were able to go on and shock the world.
Jacob Marsalis – Campus Correspondent
In the National Championship game, the Huskies never trailed Kentucky, but watching it didn’t feel that way. With 8:13 left, Kentucky had managed to trim the UConn lead to one, but then a missed three pointer gave the Huskies a chance to breakaway. Shabazz Napier followed with jump shot three and Kentucky couldn’t get within a point again. Napier secured his place in UConn history with a 22 point night and Ryan Boatright ended his solid tournament with 14. When Boatright managed to get a rebound to end the game, UConn finished a tournament run on par with the magic that was Kemba Walker and the 2011 Huskies. Not only had the Huskies lost key players the year prior when the NCAA banned them from the tournament, but they were in their first tournament since Jim Calhoun had left the job to Kevin Ollie.
Chris Hanna – Staff Writer
The Final Four matchup with the Florida Gators always resonates with me as one of the biggest games in that championship run, besides the title game itself. I distinctly remember missing the start of the game but listening to it on the radio. The Huskies got off to a rough start, down by as much as 12 just ten minutes into the game. Then, back-to-back threes by DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright set a fire under the team and put UConn right back in it. Once the Huskies grabbed the lead late in the first half, they never let go. Daniels really took charge in that semifinal game and took the primary scoring load off of Shabazz and Boatright.
Plus, another part of the magic behind that game was that the Gators were the No. 1 overall seed that year and the only two teams to defeat them that season were the Wisconsin Badgers very early in the season and the Huskies, twice. The first time was, of course, that of the incredible free-throw line buzzer beater by Napier at Gampel Pavilion. Beating a team that talented twice in one season was amazing and that’s why the even more impressive performance by UConn in the national semifinal against Florida gets my vote for best game.