There isn’t a men’s basketball program with more mental toughness that Connecticut’s, as shown in both its last two national championship runs.
The Huskies displayed tremendous grit over these last three weeks, winning the title as a seven seed.
No stat demonstrates it better than UConn’s unbelievable free-throw shooting. Led by guard Shabazz Napier, the Huskies made 101-of-115 foul shots in their six wins. That’s good for a tournament-record 87.8 percent.
To put that number in further perspective, consider that the nation’s best free-throw shooting team this season (Cal State Northridge) shot 79.1 percent.
UConn made all 10 of its free throws in Monday’s 60-54 win over Kentucky. The Wildcats were 13 of 24.
UConn’s last title team (2010-11) stood out for its toughness as well in its surprising run. The Huskies lost four of five games entering the Big East Tournament.
Led by guard Kemba Walker, UConn won five games in five days, defeating Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville along the way. The Huskies then captured the national crown, winning 11 neutral-court games in four weeks.
That UConn team forever put to rest the fatigue factor being a legit excuse in the NCAA tourney.
This Huskies squad showed what fundamental basketball — hitting your free throws — can lead to.
UConn wasn’t even shooting them granny style. Although, the Huskies are tough enough to get away with it if they had been.