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UConn men, women are basketball royalty


April 7, 2004

More from Vitale: UConn men top Georgia Tech, win national title

Diana Taurasi
Senior Diana Taurasi led the UConn women to their third straight championship.
How about a dual salute to coaches Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma! Their Connecticut men's and women's programs are kings and queens of the basketball world.

What an amazing story ... when you think about the program at UConn before Calhoun and Auriemma arrived in the mid-'80s, it's been an incredible run for both teams. Emeka Okafor and Diana Taurasi are the toasts of the basketball world -- they are the Big Man and Woman On Campus, baby!

This marked the first time the men's and women's team from the same school won the national championship in the same season. Both teams are true champions. Neither Okafor nor Taurasi would let their teams go down in defeat.

The women defeated arch-rival Tennessee 70-61 Tuesday night to win their title (the program's fifth overall).

The men defeated Georgia Tech 82-73 Monday night to win their title, after a thrilling one-point comeback victory over Duke in the semifinal (their second title overall).

It's so difficult these days to repeat as national champion, yet the UConn women went back-to-back-to-back, three straight titles. Amazing ... and for Calhoun to win two national titles in six years is also impressive. Think about this: In the past decade, only two men's programs have won two national championships -- Kentucky (1996, '98) and Connecticut (1999, 2004). Lofty company!

Jim Calhoun
Jim Calhoun
Geno Auriemma
I had the pleasure of meeting UConn president Philip E. Austin and athletic director Jeff Hathaway at the airport as they were leaving San Antonio after the men's victory to head to New Orleans to watch the women's final. I can tell you how proud and thrilled they were about the potential accomplishment, which did come to fruition. They were nothing less than ecstatic.

It really is a dream for one university to win two national titles in two days. UConn reigns supreme because of the brilliant leadership of future Hall of Famers Calhoun and Auriemma. They deserve congratulations for inspiring their players to perform and achieve at the highest level.

It's an unbelievable achievement. Storrs, Conn., is without question the center of the basketball universe, baby!

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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