An emotional Hurley doesn’t want UConn’s March Madness joy ride to end


Mar. 31—BOSTON — Standing in the TD Garden hallway Saturday night, Dan Hurley explained what triggered his tears in the hours before UConn’s impressive Elite Eight victory.

Hurley has formed a tight bond with his team and didn’t want the March Madness joy ride and season to end.

“I cried a lot today,” said Hurley, UConn’s emotionally-charged coach. “Some of it is fatigue, you’re tired. … The thought of not getting Cam Spencer and Steph Castle to a Final Four was something that you felt a lot of pressure in the last two weeks.

“This team, to do what it did during the non-conference, the Big East regular season and Big East tournament, it’s historic. We’re setting program records in a place where it’s hard to do here. … There’s a lot of pressure to get this team to Phoenix, no doubt.”

The pressure is off Hurley, at least for now.

Top-seeded UConn (35-3) has a national semifinal date with No. 4 Alabama (25-11) on Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The game is scheduled to start at 8:49 p.m.

The reigning national champions are the talk of college basketball after riding a breathtaking 30-0 run to a 77-52 win over No. 3 Illinois in the East regional final.

Five players — Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban, Donovan Clingan, Hassan Diarra and Samson Johnson — from last year’s title team will be returning to the Final Four. It will be the first trip for Castle and the rest of the freshmen class and also for Spencer, a graduate transfer.

“It’s a crazy feeling, I’m not going to lie,” Castle said. “It doesn’t even feel real. Just being a freshman and being in this position, I’m blessed.”

For Spencer, it means that he’ll get to celebrate his 24th birthday Saturday at the Final Four.

“It will be better after a win, though,” Spencer said. “That will make it really special. … I’m happy, but we didn’t come to UConn to reach the Final Four, we came to win the national championship. We’ve got two more to go.”

The Huskies are on an incredible roll rarely seen in NCAA tournament…

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Author : The Day, New London, Conn.

Publish date : 2024-04-01 00:38:00

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