2013-14 was quite the year for the University of Connecticut basketball program. UConn started off the season ranked 17th in the nation. The Huskies were playing in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference and took care of their opponents, finishing conference play at 12-6. However, outside of the American, UConn was even better. They were 15-1 in non-conference play, finishing the season at 24-7 before the AAC Tournament. Come the American Athletic Conference Tournament, UConn was only the fourth seed but they were playing as if they should have been a top two seed. In the opening round, they easily beat 5th seed Memphis, 72-53. Come the next round, they beat top-seeded Cincinnati, 58-56, surprising the entire AAC and nation. Now, in the championship, they matched up against 2nd seed Louisville, who had humiliated them 84-41 only one week to the day earlier. This time up, they still lost, but only by ten points, 71-61. Their tournament play and the end of their season got them a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
To start off their March Madness, they played 10th seed St. Joseph’s in the Round of 64 and almost saw their magical run get cut early as it took them overtime to be victorious, 89-81. In the Round of 32, they went up against another Philly 5 team, 2nd seed Villanova. In this matchup, the Huskies rolled over the Wildcats, 77-65, and showed the nation the Huskies were back to their form of the 2011 National Champion team. Come the Sweet 16, Iowa State stood in the way of the Cinderella Huskies. The Cyclones posed a threat to UConn, but the Cinderella run continued with a 81-76 run. Come the Elite 8, UConn played Michigan State, led by Tom Izzo. The 4th seeded Spartans posed another threat to the Huskies, but UConn couldn’t be stopped and prevailed 60-54, clinching a trip to the Final Four in Arlington, TX.
The 7th seeded UConn Huskies would not have it easy in the Final Four. They faced the only top seed left, Florida Gators, in the National Semifinals. UConn continued to plow through the March Madness competition, and beat the Gators, 63-53. UConn found themselves in the National Championship game against the 8th seeded Kentucky Wildcats, who were also surprising the nation with their phenomenal play. In the battle of two Cinderella stories, it was UConn who came out on top and took home their fourth NCAA Tournament crown, their second in the past three years.
Head Coach Kevin Ollie was in his second year as coach of UConn and did pretty well, to say the least. However, the Huskies would be losing seven players from their championship team, including the star to the March Madness show, Shabazz Napier. Ollie knew this season wouldn’t be as successful as last year, but everyone else still expected them do fairly well. However, the Huskies have not enjoyed their start to the season. UConn started off the season ranked 17th in the AP Top 25 and looked to climb the rankings. However, UConn lost fairly early in the season to unranked West Virginia. The Huskies followed up this loss with two poor performances to 7th ranked Texas and unranked Yale, falling to 3-3 early on.
UConn had to try and rebound from their three game losing streak, and did such with an easy victory over Coppin State and now went up against the second best team in the nation, the Duke Blue Devils. The Huskies were able to put up a strong showing, but couldn’t finish strong and lost 66-56.
UConn had a shaky start to the season and looked to put it behind them as they started conference play. The Huskies hosted the Temple Owls in Storrs and wanted to win their third straight but the Owls proved to be a tougher match for the Huskies than they expected. As the game went into overtime, Temple began to widen their lead and were able to down the Huskies, 57-53. The Huskies now sat at 6-5 and were not at their form from March.
As the season has progressed, the Huskies have been able to string together a few more wins, but losses to Tulsa and Stanford won’t exactly help their plea to the committee for a shot at going dancing in March. Senior guard Ryan Boatright and freshman guard-forward combo Daniel Hamilton have been leading the team, combining for 26.1 points per game, 10.4 boards, and 8.0 assists. The duo has been holding their own, but the problem from the Huskies stems from the struggle to score. UConn only has three players that average over 10 points per game. As a whole, the Huskies only average 65.6 points per game, which ranks 228th in the nations (that’s not good).
The Huskies are currently at 10-7 and might be destined for mediocrity if these poor performances continue throughout the remainder of the season. In conference play, UConn is 3-2, which puts them at fourth in the American. Making the tournament via an automatic conference bid seems like a bit of a stretch with how well some of other conference opponents have been playing. Comparing the past two UConn teams, it is easy to see which is the superior team. The worse part is that the current Huskies may be the ones fans in Storrs may have to get used to. The empire in Connecticut is beginning to crumble and it will take a little more than a miracle to prevent it from collapsing.