SPORTS

Fans welcome UConn’s repeat champs back to the ‘Basketball Capital of the World’

Apr 10, 2024, 6:00 AM | Updated: Apr 15, 2024, 1:58 pm

UConn head coach Dan Hurley, center, and his players celebrate after the NCAA college Final Four ch...

UConn head coach Dan Hurley, center, and his players celebrate after the NCAA college Final Four championship basketball game against Purdue, Monday, April 8, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn’s men’s basketball team returned Tuesday night to the campus the school has branded the “Basketball Capital of the World.”

Fans lined the streets in Eastern Connecticut, cheering as the team’s buses passed by on the hourlong journey from Bradley International Airport to Gampel Pavilion.

Several thousand fans waited inside the arena to hear from coach Dan Hurley and the UConn players, who beat Purdue 70-65 on Monday night for the school’s second title in a row and sixth in program history.

Hurley pointed out that the team began working toward its goals last June, a couple of months after winning the program’s fifth title.

“And then we just won absolutely everything,” he said as the crowd began to roar its approval. “We won everything, everything — Big East regular season, Big East Tournament, we won the East Region and the we went and got you your sixth national championship, went back-to-back like we talked about.”

The coach also used the occasion to unveil the newest plaque on the arena’s “Husky of Honor” wall honoring guard Tristen Newton, the Final Four’s most outstanding player.

“Immortal,” Hurley said. “Immortal.”

The welcome home ceremony capped a full day of celebrations that began with the Huskies’ win over Purdue in Arizona.

Thousands of students spilled onto campus after the final horn in a party that stretched into the early morning hours.

UConn police said six people, ranging in age from 18 to 21, were arrested during the celebrations. Charges ranged from criminal mischief to rioting to interfering with police. Any students arrested also face university discipline.

Someone took a downed traffic sign and smashed it through part of the glass front of the student recreation center, but for the most part the celebrations were peaceful, school spokesman Mike Enright said.

A victory parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday through Hartford from the state Capitol to the XL Center, where another victory rally will be held.

“For the second year in a row, the UConn men’s basketball team wowed the nation by dominating the NCAA Tournament, and now it’s time for Connecticut to give them the victory celebration they deserve,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Such festivities have become somewhat routine at UConn, which in addition to its six men’s basketball national championships has had 11 women’s titles over the past 30 years. The school is 17-1 in NCAA basketball title games.

“UConn has a big standard now and that’s winning championships, so we’re going to continue to do that,” Donovan Clingan, UConn’s 7-foot-2 sophomore center, told the crowd Tuesday night.

Last year, 16 people were injured, 39 people were arrested and six students ended up being expelled following more widespread vandalism.

Precautions were in place Monday designed to prevent a repeat of that.

In advance of the Final Four, the school removed the aluminum light posts along Hillside Road, the main thoroughfare through the center of campus, and replaced them with temporary lighting.

The school also limited the size of the campus watch party. Only 6,700 students, all of whom won tickets to the event through a lottery, were allowed inside Gampel Pavilion, and they were seated in the upper bowl of the 10,000-capacity arena.

The general public was barred from the event and, unlike last year, no alcohol was sold or allowed inside, Enright said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Sports

Alden Peterson, of Eden, competes in the long jump at the district championships at Bonneville Jr. ...

Arianne Brown, KSL.COM

Utah junior high student diagnosed with brain cancer finds joy in track and field

Alden Peterson was diagnosed with brain cancer in junior high, but he doesn't let that stop him from finding joy in athletics.

1 day ago

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

4 days ago

The Picklr pickleball company started in Utah and then expanded nationwide. Now, the company is com...

Emma Everett Johnson, KSL.com

Indoor pickleball facility coming to Salt Lake City, other Utah cities

The pickleball craze is far from over. Salt Lake City proper will be getting its first large-scale indoor pickleball facility later this year.

6 days ago

Utah Utes pitcher Mariah Lopez goes into her windup as the softball team plays Ole Miss in the NCAA...

Josh Furlong, KSL.com

South Carolina’s 1st inning grand slam ends Utah softball’s season in 5-1 loss

DURHAM, N.C. — All it took was one swing Sunday afternoon. With bases loaded at the top of the first inning, South Carolina’s Aniyah Black took an 0-1 pitch to deep left field and over the wall. And with the grand slam hit, South Carolina took a commanding 4-0 lead before Utah even had a […]

8 days ago

A child experiences an interactive art exhibit at "Dreamscapes," the business at the Shops at South...

Aimee Cobabe

Shops at South Town asks temporary business to leave

Dreamscapes interactive art museum will relocate, after spending two years at the Shops at South Town in Sandy, Utah.

12 days ago

Fans reach for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) following the team's NBA basketball game again...

Don Brinkerhoff

SLC one of the top U.S. cities for basketball fans

A new report from WalletHub ranks Utah as a top city for basketball fans. Some local Jazz enthusiasts discuss why they are fans.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Fans welcome UConn’s repeat champs back to the ‘Basketball Capital of the World’