Out of Bounds: UConn achieves recipe for success

Over the past 20 years, there has only been one school worth knowing in college basketball: the University of Connecticut. The men’s and women’s teams have 13 championship titles combined in less than two decades – four for the men, nine for the women. That’s a total of 13 possible titles in 20 years. That’s unbelievable. There hasn’t been a stretch of basketball greatness at that level since coach John Wooden’s years at the University of California at Los Angeles. Since the Huskies won their first title in 1999, there have only been three teams to win more than one title in that span: Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of  Florida – all with two titles to UConn’s four.

Former head coach Jim Calhoun singlehandedly built the program up from nothing into a national power. He arrived there in 1986 and within five years, they were a nationally known team; having reached the Elite Eight in 1990. Throughout the ‘90s their presence was always there, despite never reaching the top goal.

If a team’s quality is determined by the NBA players it produces, then you know that UConn is the real deal. Some former Huskies include Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Rudy Gay and most recently, Kemba Walker.

Among women’s basketball teams, UConn has pretty much been the team to beat since the ‘90s. In his UConn career, head coach Geno Auriemma accrued his first title in ‘95 and three Final Four appearances in ‘91, ‘95 and ‘96. Since then, he has come to be revered as one of the best coaches in the game.

Auriemma has won more games faster than anyone else in basketball history. There have only been eight undefeated seasons in women’s college basketball, and the Huskies own five of them. Two of the four wins came in back-to-back seasons, ‘08-‘09 and ‘09-‘10, and saw UConn win an incredible 90 games in a row.

This many games consecutively won holds the record; it’s two more wins than Wooden’s teams ever achieved.

In my lifetime, the Huskies have won more championships than any other collegiate or professional team. Even the programs separately have won more titles than most teams ever have, and that’s only in 20 years.

Let’s just take a look at one year in particular – 2004. That year, the men’s program won the title as a No. 2 seed. One day later, the women took the title of a No. 2 seed as well. Both teams won that same year. That feat was never subsequently accomplished until this year – both of the Huskies’ teams won once again.

It’s pretty amazing to think that if you didn’t know anything about college basketball and had to guess the winner in any season of past 20 years, you pretty much have a one-in-four chance of guessing correctly if you say UConn. Twenty-five percent of the past men’s and women’s titles have belonged to the Huskies. The only comparable feat to this is UCLA’s seven consecutive championships.

Simply put, the show runners at UConn have captured lightning in a bottle. And they aren’t planning on releasing it anytime soon.