With fourth title in hand, Breanna Stewart delivers for UConn

Stewart wins fourth Final Four most outstanding player award (1:30)

Connecticut forward Breanna Stewart explains how she was able to be the only basketball player in NCAA history to win four Final Four Most Outstanding Player awards. (1:30)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Life after UConn -- a very, very busy life -- is about to begin for the amazing Breanna Stewart. Catch your breath, Stewie, because a lot is going to happen.

Which is not to say a great deal hasn't happened already. Stewart finished off a historic collegiate career Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and there's no way to overstate what an accomplishment it is. For the program, of course, which won its 11th championship -- and fourth in a row -- with an 82-51 victory over Syracuse.

But for Stewart personally, too. She was part of 151 victories and only five losses at UConn. She was Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four an unprecedented four times. She won the Wade Trophy twice. Stewart, fellow senior Moriah Jefferson and redshirt junior Morgan Tuck, became the first college basketball players, men or women, to win four titles.

With 24 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocked shots Tuesday, she finished with these totals in those categories: 2,676, 1,179, 426 and 414. It would be hard to imagine a more complete impact than what Stewart has had.

"When you feel the most satisfied, when you've done all that you can do," Stewart said, "when you're working this hard and performing at that level, there's nothing else that can be asked of you. No matter, win or lose or anything, you're putting it all out there. That's what you want."

Maybe the most remarkable part of this is that Stewart has made it look ... well, almost mundane. Stewart, her teammates and UConn Nation were excited Tuesday, but for many sports fans, the conclusion of another perfect season -- UConn's sixth -- was practically ho-hum.

That might not seem fair when you consider how good the Huskies had to be to make it appear so pre-ordained. But this tells you how dominant UConn was: Syracuse went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter, and it still didn't make it a close game. It was a microcosm of this season for UConn, and most of Stewart's career.

Notre Dame beat Stewart's Huskies three times her freshman season, and Baylor did it once that season. Stanford defeated UConn at the start of Stewart's junior season. And that's it for her losses in college.

Even the coach of the team that she beat in her final game -- someone who knows her as well as any opposing coach -- celebrated for her despite his own disappointment.

"I'm really happy for Breanna Stewart," said Syracuse's Quentin Hillsman, whose program made a memorable run to its first Final Four. "I remember she came to my camp in ninth grade, watched her grow up and be the kind of player that she is. Just a great player and just a great kid.

"And we talk about a kid being that good from Syracuse; it really doesn't happen that often. So give her a lot of credit. Really proud of her and all the things that she's accomplished."

A Syracuse native, Stewart grew up a fan of the Orange. Had the women's program there been in anywhere near the same stratosphere as the Syracuse men's program is, UConn coach Geno Auriemma knows it's likely Stewart would never have left home.

But while the Syracuse women definitely took a big stride forward this season, the chance to play for UConn is hard to pass up for any women's basketball star who has that opportunity.

After committing non-ceremoniously to UConn -- no news conference, no hoopla, no stringing anyone along -- Stewart then famously announced that a "four-peat" was her goal when she arrived in 2012.

"I would say that it's a pretty good chance that she's going to do at the next level exactly what she's been doing." Geno Auriemma, on what lies ahead for Breanna Stewart in the WNBA and possibly the Olympics

Before each Final Four in which she played, she has been asked about this. It's not as if she made some kind of Joe Namath-like "guarantee" of doing it. She wasn't bragging before the fact. She was stating what she thought was an obvious and attainable goal.

"I don't think that was wrong of me to say, because you come to Connecticut to win championships," Stewart said. "That's our goal every single year."

It actually came true every year with Stewart, a 6-foot-4 multidimensional player who will be the WNBA's No. 1 draft pick on April 14. She'll go to the Seattle Storm, which missed the playoffs the past two seasons and is in need of an ascending franchise player. They couldn't ask for a better one.

Admittedly, Stewart didn't do this all on her own, and she'd be the first to stress that. The UConn dynasty was in place before she got there, with seven championships already won.

She has had the peerless coaching of Auriemma and his staff, the advice from past UConn champions, equally motivated teammates and the lifelong support of her family.

Stewart has never been one to tout her own contributions, but she hasn't really needed to do that. Her play has spoken for itself, and she has improved every season.

"I think it's something that continues to be building throughout my career," Stewart said of her commitment to being the best player she could be. "But I made the biggest jump at the end of my freshman year, and carrying that over into my sophomore year. And then each year building on that and embracing things being hard, and teams guarding me in difficult ways. And realizing that if I do the work at this level, nobody's going to be able to stay with me."

Auriemma has said that Stewart's ability to make things look easy used to mean that she thought everything should be easy. That has changed, and as she said, she now embraces what's difficult. It's not her fault if it still looks easy for her, though.

What worries Stewart? Right now, not a whole lot; life is pretty great. But she expressed some concern earlier this season, in a moment of reflection, about her younger brother, Conor. She wants him to be able to forge his own path in whatever he wants to pursue, and not feel he's in the shadow of his older sister and her success.

Stewart is the "star" who understands what that term entails without getting caught up in any of it. People will say if you wanted to "build" a women's player in some Frankenstein-like way, putting together the best parts to construct the ultimate dominating hoopster, your end product would look like Stewart.

But there's more to it than the physical, because -- especially if you were a coach -- you would also want the perfect player to have a low-key but friendly personality, which would allow her to quickly adapt to any group with which she'd happen to be playing.

You'd want someone who didn't see greatness as a destination, but a constant journey that requires hard work, dedication, and an open mind to constructive criticism.

You'd want the fire to always be on low-burn, and yet be constant -- capable of roaring when needed.

Stewart's fire has never been close to the surface like that of some other Huskies greats, or for that matter, other luminaries of women's basketball. But you never doubt that it's there.

"She's an emotional person, and I think she kind of guards that," UConn assistant coach Chris Dailey said. "I don't know that she will let that out to [the media] easily. But in her moments with us as coaches and her teammates, that emotion comes out.

"I don't think what she feels now is relief. My feeling was relief, because I wanted so badly for our seniors to get it. Her feelings are just joy, a sense of accomplishment, and happiness to have done it with this team."

A dozen years ago on a rainy night in New Orleans, UConn standout Diana Taurasi finished off her third national championship season, and then took the slightest of breathers -- a couple of minutes, it seemed like -- before jumping into the whirlwind of preparing for the WNBA draft, her first pro season, and the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Stewart has done the great Taurasi one better in terms of NCAA titles, but her path now looks similar. Stewart will be the fifth UConn player selected No. 1 in the WNBA draft, following Sue Bird (2002), Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010) and Maya Moore (2011), and she will then face a new challenge at that level. Stewart also is one of the finalists to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, which would be quite the feat in and of itself.

What do the coming years project for Stewart? Based on her history, it's likely to be something special.

"I would say that it's a pretty good chance that she's going to do at the next level exactly what she's been doing," Auriemma said. "Obviously it's going to be more difficult. The players that they're playing against [in pro ball] are quite different. The entire life is different. And that takes some getting used to."

Stewart can still count on some helpful advice, though, from her UConn mentors.

"I think she has that drive that you need," Dailey said. "She will be getting texts from me, though, as reminders. As I do with all of our former players."

Which brings up the one thing Stewart was sad about Tuesday: that she is now a former UConn player. She said that her freshman season, when she had some struggles -- which now seem so distant -- lasted the longest. The other three seasons have flown by for her -- or at least that's how she said it felt.

And when she wakes up Wednesday, what will be the first thing that she thinks about?

"Wow," Stewart said. "Just realizing that, yeah, you say something, but to actually follow through and do it is two different things."

Stewart did both: She said it, and then she did it. Four-for-four.