Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley cuts down the net after defeating the San Diego State Aztecs in the national championship game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Van Chancellor: All praise to the UConn Huskies – and Houston
Another champion has been crowned in our city. The University of Connecticut prevailed in a big way walking to the Champion’s platform with their record intact. All of their wins in the tournament had come by double figures. Coach Dan Hurley and the UConn Huskies put an end to a great San Diego State run with a 76-59 victory to seal their place among the four other UConn teams that have hoisted the coveted Final Four trophy.
If playing for a Final Four championship isn’t enough motivation in itself, the Huskies wanted to return their program to its former glory. The men have placed four trophies in the trophy case, and the women have 11. The last Final Four trophy put in the case by the men came in 2014, and the players and their coach were committed to returning the school to elite status.
This in itself would be a big legacy to live up to, but they also have a coach with a family legacy to live up to as well. Coach Dan Hurley’s father, Bob Hurley, won 26 state high school titles at St. Anthony in New Jersey. His brother is a decorated high school, college, NBA player and coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. This Easter, when the Hurleys gather around the dinner table, Dan and his UConn Huskies will be sure to dominate the conversation.
San Diego State did not go away quietly. Monday night, they called again on the magic that had propelled them through the tournament, but it wasn’t enough. Once again, they mounted a comeback in the second half as they had done before in the tournament cutting UConn’s lead to five points. Unfortunately, UConn responded with a three by Hawkins and never looked back on its way to the championship.
Another Final Four, with all its excitement, is in the books. The teams did their part to make this year’s March Madness an exciting event, and Houston as a city should stand up and be proud. You hosted a Final Four that put a positive spotlight on our city and its people. Once again, we showed our city has the ability to host elite sporting events. The Music Fest and Fan Fest were a great success with large crowds at each event. All the games in NRG were well-attended and flawlessly run.
Congratulations to the planning committee and everyone who played a part in planning and carrying out this great weekend. Houston, we should be very proud of the impression we made on our visitors. As a host city, we are champions too.
Now it is time to get ready for another championship event as our Astros defend their championship. Houston knows how to celebrate a champion.