UConn's 76-71 win over Syracuse in the Big East semifinals Friday night was the Huskies fourth win in four days, and they don't plan on stopping there.
The Huskies have already made Big East history by getting to the Big East Tournament finals after winning four consecutive games, and now they have their sights set on a conference tournament title, a feat no one expected when the tournament started.
"(We) cleared the slate of anything that happened before," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said after the game. "Fresh season, let's play basketball. Over the years I've been in a few tournaments, NCAA and the Big East and we started fresh and the kids responded. I couldn't be prouder of this group and I've had some good groups I've sat on the podium with."
Now the question is, is this all worth it?
UConn is in the NCAA Tournament. They were in the tournament prior to their amazing run this week. And while winning three consecutive games is a major boost to a team that lost four of their last five regular season games coming in, it might not be the greatest thing for their health heading into yet another "fresh season."
"We're ready for the challenge," guard Kemba Walker said. "We're mentally tough and we're going to stay together."
Walker has been a hero during this tournament stretch. He's scored 111 points, grabbed 30 rebounds and dished out 18 assists. His 111 points broke the Big East Tournament scoring record set by former Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf (84) in 2009.
Calhoun said when the tournament began that he thought Walker could play 40 minutes every night and not be tired, and so far that seems to be holding up. Out of 165 possible minutes, Walker has played 157 of them, including all of Thursday's game against Pitt and Friday's game.
But is it all worth it? In the past three days we've seen star players go down with tough injuries. St. John's D.J. Kennedy and New Mexico's Dairese Gary both ended their careers with knee injuries in their respective conference tournaments. Duke guard Nolan Smith suffered an undisclosed toe injury. And none of those players had played nearly as many minutes as Walker or most of the UConn team.
But there's also something to be said about pride. The Big East has been the best basketball conference all season and could have as many as 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament come Sunday. Getting through that gauntlet is a test of strength and will, and is something that could fuel the Huskies to an amazing NCAA Tournament run regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final.
After the loss to Notre Dame to end the regular season, the Huskies were reeling. They were looking for answers to get back on track and the Big East Tournament might have been their solution.
"It ends up being a new season for you," Calhoun said prior to the start of the tournament. "You've seen it in the Big East tournament and you've seen it in the NCAA tournament. Teams get a little bit going, get on a roll, feel good about themselves, good things happen and the next thing you know, they are going on. A couple of our guys hope they can get some new life, to be honest with you."