Bookend Titles for Bazz, Giffey and Tyler Olender - Dallas 2014

April 7, 2014 (Arlington, TX) To think that on March 8th, this UConn Men's Basketball Team got trounced at #11 Louisville 81-48 in the regular season finale at the YUM Center...The Huskies did beat Memphis and Cincinnati to get to the first AAC Title Game and again lost to the now 5th Ranked Cardinals 71-61..A Seven Seed in the NCAA TOurnament East Regional, where they survived an OT win over Saint Joseph's 89-81, and then KO'ed Villanova 77-65 in Buffalo to earn a trip to Madison Square Garden (aka: Storrs South) Used the energy of MSG to vault them past Iowa State and Michigan State to get to the programs 5th Final Four. Then proving the December home buzzer beater wasn't a fluke, they beat Florida again to end the Gator's 30 game win streak...and reach the National Championship against an 8 seed from another basketball blueblood...Kentucky.

One of the Nation's Youngest Teams faced a veteran UConn squad, led by Senior Guard Shabazz Napier and a group of upper classmen that had found themselves under second year Head Coach Kevin Ollie...While UConn's Women's Team was expected to play for the National Title the next night in Nashville, very few thought it's Men's Team would be here. Then again, not many people picked the Wildcats either...

Led by Napier and his backcourt mate, Ryan Boatright, the Huskies fashioned an 11-2 run to go from a 6 all tie, to 17-8 seven minutes into the game. Then the advantage grew to 15 on a Bazz 3 ball, a DeAndre Daniels jumper, a Bazz pullup and 2 FT's by Niels Giffey..Before Kentucky outscored UConn 16-5 over the last 5:30 to cut the halftime deficit to 35-31. Bazz leading the Huskies with 15, Boatright 8 and James Young had 10 to lead the Cats'.

Over the first eight minutes of the second half, UConn's advantage teetered between 1 & 4 points...At 41-39, Niels "Bullseye" Giffey made a three. It started a quick 7-0 spurt that put the Huskies up 9 with nine minutes left, capped by a Napier basket. Eight straight Wildcat points, six by Young and Kentucky back within one a minute later. Again, UConn's answer ? Threes by Napier and Giffey and the Huskies back up 5. at 54-49. Only twice over the last six minutes did Kentucky get within 4, and UConn couldn't pull away. Neither team shot the ball well in the last 20 minutes. UConn 32%, Kentucky 33 % A big difference was the Huskies converting three - 3 pointers to Kentucky's one over the last 20 minutes, while going 6-6 from the line to win the National Championship 60-54. Shabazz leading the way with 22 to earn Final Four MOP Honors, just as his mentor,Kemba Walker did in 2011...Bazz, Giffey and Tolland's own Tyler Olander winning National Titles in bookend fashion. And the only three UConn Men with multiple National Championships...

The next day at the Welcome Home Rally at Gampel Pavilion, Napier's #13 was hung into the Huskies of Honors wall. A reminder that a kid from the Boston Area led his Huskies to a Championship. Oh yeah, Husky Nation wasn't done yet. More on that tomorrow. :)

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