How does that air feel on top of the mountain?
The Huskies won their fifth national championship on Monday, defeating San Diego State, 76-59. Here are some of the best moments from the six games where the smallest margin of victory was 13, in the Final Four.
Obviously, we had many highlights this year. You can check out the regular season’s best moments here.
Andre Jackson is everywhere
Shawn McGrath: At least once a game, Andre Jackson does something amazing. Sometimes it’s a four-one-one rebound. Sometimes it’s a dunk where he gets completely horizontal.
Sometimes he comes out of nowhere to grab a pass seemingly going to no one in particular in the lane, then finds the open man in Alex Karaban for the 3-pointer to end the first half on a high note against Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
Andre Jackson is omnipresent and you can’t convince us otherwise— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 26, 2023
The do-it-all forward has ridiculous eyes, passing ability, and athleticism. It was on display all NCAA Tournament, but this play, in particular, was impressive because it was going to be a turnover and instead became three points at the end of the half.
Tristen Newton From Deep
The Huskies got another end-of-half three. This one allowed Dan Hurley’s squad to take a lead into the halftime break.
He had more than one from way downtown.
Andre Jackson’s ridiculous offensive board and dish to Hawkins against Arkansas
Ryan Goodman: I highlighted this play last week because it’s just the full embodiment of what Jackson is as a basketball player. He not only can grab an acrobatic offensive board over someone but also has the awareness and skill to whip a one-handed, off-balance pass to a wide-open 3-point shooter. It’s these kinds of plays that will eventually get him paid in the NBA one day.
Joey Calcaterra from Andre Jackson vs. San Diego State
Patrick Martin: It’s time to give Joey California his flowers. His transfer news came as an afterthought in the wake of the Tristen Newton and Naheim Alleyne. Everyone knew UConn desperately needed shooting and spacing, but what could some mid-major specialist really bring to UConn? Most saw him as an end-of-rotation piece that could at best torch a few non-conference opponents.
Instead, he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament, seemingly always providing a timely transition bucket. He finished the season averaging 5.8 points in 14 minutes per game, shooting an obscene 3-point percentage of 44.6 percent.
From that angle seen above you can really see how sick this play is. Jackson’s ‘feel’ is on full display; the smoothness and timing to hit Joey Calcaterra in stride as if it were a pickup game. The trust of a captain in one of his shooters. Calcaterra pushing the ball ahead on the break, knowing he would get it back. He also had a nice lob for an alley-oop to Clingan in the national championship.
This play gave the Huskies the largest lead of the title game at 36-20. It also encapsulates both players; Jackson’s unselfishness and Calcaterra’s zero-hesitation trigger. He might not have been the most heralded transfer, but the way his skillset melded with the roster is a blueprint for part of a transfer strategy in these times.
The Arkansas Alley-Oop
Dan Madigan: The Alex Karaban-to-Andre-Jackson-to-Donovan-Clingan alley-oop against the Razorbacks is perfect basketball. The ball traveled nearly the entire court without ever touching the ground! It really shows not just the talent that this group had, but the team’s confidence and chemistry as they rolled through the NCAA tournament. When Clingan finished off the dunk from Jackson’s lob, that was the first time I personally had a good feeling that this team had what it takes to make it to Houston. I am a little shocked it didn’t make it into One Shining Moment — for me, it’s one of the defining plays of the Huskies’ tournament run. Bill Murray agrees!
Goodman: This play had me thinking this game would turn into a blood bath quickly (which it did). That game against Arkansas was the probably best all-around performance I have ever seen from a UConn team. It was just littered with ridiculous plays, but this one likely takes the cake. Karaban pump-faking to get his defender in the air and then flipping his hips like mid-season Jameis before delivering an absolute dime to Jackson who hits the streaking Clingan for the easy oop. Poetry in motion.
Jordan Hawkins tells the World
Aman: This was more about the statement than the play itself, though it was very sweet how Hawkins caught this pass, created space, and got his shot up with lightning speed.
The celebration, after putting UConn up by over 30 in the Elite Eight, let everyone know what was coming down the road.
Jordan. Hawkins.— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 26, 2023
He’s incredible folks!!!!! pic.twitter.com/3wNTRWdE4Z
Andre Jackson Elevation
Aman: There are a few of these...
Adama Sanogo puts Iona away
Aman: Bill loved this one too. Sanogo finished with 28 points and hit the dagger three against Iona. He finished as the Final Four MOP as he individually dominated against the Huskies’ next five opponents.
Sanogo also hit two threes in the first three minutes against Miami (in the Final Four) that were basically daggers.
Adama is having a day and Bill Murray is here for it pic.twitter.com/JMVXdRw7tY— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) March 17, 2023
His low-post work was also beautiful throughout, making some sweet blocks and scoring a ton of tough buckets, like this one when the national championship game was getting close.
Aman: When the game was still a contest, it was always so unfair that UConn got to bench Sanogo for Donovan Clingan. He shows why with a nice rebound then low-post moves to get himself a dunk to help keep the Huskies going.