Comparing the Current UConn Men's Basketball Team to the 2011 Championship Team

Connecticut Men's College Basketball

Comparing the Current UConn Men's Basketball Team to the 2011 Championship Team

With yet another improbable run, the Connecticut Huskies are in the Final Four of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament once again. Just like the 2011 championship team, this squad of players seems to be hitting its stride at the perfect time. However, the two UConn teams are not identical and we still don’t know if this year’s Huskies team is championship-bound. There is no denying that the current UConn team is eerily similar to the 2010-11 team, but just how similar are they? Let’s look at how the Huskies of today compare to those of three years ago.



On several fronts, this year’s University of Connecticut team is just like the most recent national championship-winning team of 2011. First of all, both teams had to make improbable runs in the postseason to reach the Final Four. The 2011 team started in the Big East tournament, winning five games in a row in surprising fashion before going on to defeat the likes of San Diego State, Arizona and Kentucky in the 2011 NCAA tournament. The underdog essence of this UConn squad is evident as well. The Huskies entered this tournament as a 7-seed. It was so unexpected for them to advance as far as they have that just 1.3 percent of approximately 11 million brackets filled out on ESPN had UConn in the Final Four.

Like many big-time college programs, some players go on to the NBA while others may go on to create software for construction companies. Not many programs get two special players in the span of three years, though. UConn has benefited from just that with Kemba Walker leading the 2011 team and Shabazz Napier guiding the current team through March Madness. Both players are guards with a knack for scoring, especially in clutch situations. Both men stand at 6’1’’ and led their respective teams in scoring. Most importantly, though, Walker and Napier have both served as leaders for UConn and pushed the program to at least the Final Four.



While it’s easy to see why this year’s team is compared to the 2011 UConn team, there are plenty of differences that make both teams unique from each other. For starters, the 2011 Huskies benefited from the guidance and experience of Jim Calhoun, who had already won two national championships. This year’s team is coached by Kevin Ollie, who won his first NCAA tournament game this year.

Another difference is the supporting casts for each team’s star player. Walker was aided by a better defensive squad, but the offense was carried by only Walker and Jeremy Lamb. Napier is dealing with a lesser defense, but more help on the offensive end of the floor thanks to more shooters. The rebounding ability of both teams is another major difference. Walker’s 2011 team was ninth in the country on the glass compared to Napier’s team, which is ranked 146th in the same category.

The final difference between the two squads is that the 2011 Huskies had a relatively easy time through the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, while this year’s team has been challenged since the first game. The Big East tournament victory spurred on the Huskies in 2011 while an overtime win over Saint Joe’s in the round of 64 has been the driving force behind the current UConn team’s tournament run.