On April 7 and April 8, 2014, the University of Connecticut won the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships in back-to-back days. Even in an era where many of the top men’s basketball programs also have top programs on the women’s side, UConn remains the only program to have won the men’s and women’s basketball championships in the second year. The first time was back in 2004.
Shabazz Napier led the UConn men’s team to the 2013-14 national championship and redemption
Before Shabazz Napier came to the Washington Wizards via trade earlier this past winter during his journeyman NBA career, he was best known for being a college basketball star, where he played four years at UConn, winning championships in 2011 and 2014. At the time, the 2010-11 Huskies were definitely one of the nation’s best all season long. But the 2013-14 wasn’t necessarily thought of in the same light.
The Huskies are one of the best men’s college basketball programs of all time, winning four national championships since 1999. However, they were banned from the NCAA Tournament in 2013 due to a low APR (or Academic Progress Rate) based on their performance between 2007-11. Ultimately, Napier and the Huskies couldn’t participate in the postseason due to teams whose time in Storrs preceded theirs.
During Napier’s senior season, he averaged 18 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in the Huskies’ first year in the American Athletic Conference. UConn was only 26-8 and 12-6 in conference play before heading to the tournament as a No. 7 seed. And even then, UConn’s run almost didn’t happen because they had to beat St. Joseph’s in overtime to get past the first round. Napier scored 24 points in that game but shot 7-of-22 from the field to get there.
First round aside, Napier had a great tournament run in 2014. He scored over 20 points in four of UConn’s six postseason games, including the national championship game over Kentucky when he scored 22 points, 15 of them in the first half.
After winning the Most Outstanding Player of the Year award, Napier had some words for the NCAA for banning UConn from the postseason due to things outside of the team’s control.
Though Napier is arguably the best player in UConn history, his NBA career hasn’t been as big. He has played for six NBA teams including the Wizards where his longest stop was with the Portland Trail Blazers from 2016-18.
Napier hasn’t played very long for the Wizards, but in 15 games and eight starts, he is averaging 12 points and 4.4 assists per game. The scoring averages are career-highs.
Before they were Mystics, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson were the hearts and souls of the Huskies’ 2013-14 women’s championship team
The UConn Huskies may have one of the top men’s basketball programs of all-time, but their women’s team is the best program of all-time. They have won 11 national championships, more than any other team in NCAA Division I history and won four consecutive titles from 2013-16.
Yes, now-Seattle Storm Breanna Stewart was the foundation behind those teams from a talent standpoint. She was the team’s best overall player since the day she stepped onto campus. But Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson were the Huskies’ senior leaders in the 2013-14 season, where UConn went 40-0 to win the title.
As seniors, Dolson averaged 12.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while Hartley averaged 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
After their college careers ended, Dolson was drafted sixth in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Draft to the Washington Mystics while Hartley was drafted by the Seattle Storm with the very next pick. However, Seattle traded Hartley and Tianna Hawkins, their 2013 first round draft pick to the Mystics in exchange for Crystal Langhorne.
At that moment, the Mystics instantly became a team UConn women’s basketball team fans wanted to follow. And if nothing else, Dolson’s and Hartley’s additions to Washington brought more of that intangible “winning mentality” to the DMV.
While Dolson and Hartley never had a chance to play for the Mystics since Elena Delle Donne came to town in 2017, they still made their impact in the team’s rebuild.
Dolson was an All-Star for Washington in 2015 and is widely regarded as one of the first players who helped get ... 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman out of her shell.
I mean, if you were following Meesseman back in 2014, we all knew Meesseman was passive on and off the court for a number of reasons while Dolson seemed to be the EXACT OPPOSITE. Purple hair. Dance moves. The whole shebang. Seth Berkman of ESPN had a whole column on that back in June 2015.
And if all that weren’t enough, Dolson even had an eccentric moment when the UConn teams visited then-US President Barack Obama in the summer. She fell off the platform while the President came to shake head coach Geno Auriemma’s hand.
Dolson was traded to the Chicago Sky in 2017 along with Kahleah Copper in exchange for Delle Donne. She became an All-Star once again in 2017 and was part of Chicago’s 2019 team that made the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Hartley has also been a consistent rotation or starting guard, including her time with the Mystics from 2014-16. She made the All-Rookie team in 2014 after averaging nearly 10 points a game. And yes, Hartley is known for the most wicked highlight in Mystics history (in my biased opinion) as you can see below:
Like Dolson, she was traded in 2017 to the New York Liberty as part of a bigger initiative to make room for Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver, who also came in that season. Hartley then played for New York from 2017-19 and now plays for the Phoenix Mercury. She also plays for the French women’s national team since she held dual citizenship since birth.