UConn lost yesterday. They blew a lead, struggled to score down the stretch and snapped a 13-game postseason winning streak. There would be no miracle five-wins-in-five-days run to the Big East title this year, and I'm okay with that, because the thing about miracles is that if they happen all the time, they're no longer miracles.
Last year was special, winning the Big East Tournament with five wins in five days is something UConn fans will remember for the rest of their lives. This year? Well, it's certainly not special, but it was more than aceeptable. The Huskies did what they needed to do in New York. They handled DePaul, locking up an NCAA bid. They stood frim under presure and beat a good (not great) West Virginia team in overtime. Finally, they gave a great Syracuse team -- one that would probably be undefeated if not for Fab Melo's academic issues -- all it could handle.
The Huskies are certainly leaving Madison Square Garden with questions that need to be answered. They sound like this: Why is causing Jeremy Lamb to disappear in the second half of games? How can they stop that from happening? And can they hit free throws when it matters, or at all? There are obviously more questions, but they seem minor, or at least a lot less important than they did a week ago, because the Huskies are also leaving Madison Square Garden with some answers.
Yes, the Huskies can win three Big East games in a row. Yes, they now have a leader and someone who wants to win as badly as Jim Calhoun (Shabazz Napier). Yes, if they want to they can play with just about everyone in the country, even if they haven't been able to get over the hump of actuall beating them. And, most importantly, yes they are playing their best basketball of the year at the right time.
I'm not going to say that UConn isn't going to win the National Championship -- we all saw how predictions like that worked out last year -- but I think by now we all know better to expect this team to come anywhere near another trophy. What this team is going to do is be dangerous in the NCAA tournament. How dangerous is going to depend on seeding and matchups (more on that this afternoon), but the Huskies have the potential to make opposing very coaches very upset that they got paired with UConn.
UConn did not win the Big East Tournament, but it was still a success. If you came to me last week and told me the team would be leaving MSG with two victories and a hard-fought close loss to Syracuse I would have taken it in a heartbeat, and so I shall. This isn't a perfect team, and it's not last year's team. What it is is a team that is playing hard and playing well heading into their final test, and whena season has had as many ups and downs as this one has I don't know what more you can ask for.