Three years ago, the Huskies were on the doorstep of one of the most improbable postseason runs we've ever seen. They had won 10 straight, dating back to the five-victories-in-five-nights Big East Tournament, followed by the Kemba Walker Show in the NCAAs.
While it's easy to compare Walker to this team's unquestioned leader, senior Shabazz Napier, they're different players. That said, they seem to end up at the same place -- winners -- but sometimes take different paths to get there. Here, via ESPN.com, are how some of Napier's teammates describe playing with one of the nation's most dynamic point guards.
"I've been seeing it for three years, so it's nothing really new to me. ... Just ever since we started the season, just how hard he was working and pushing everybody, just how determined he was and focused he was. Now it's just all starting to pay off."
"I think it might have even been the first tournament game. We were already down against Saint Joe's. People had them winning against us. We never believed we would lose against them. At that point, we were down. Everybody was a little rattled, first tournament game. And I guess a couple of people already had that vision, 'What's going to happen if we lose the first round?' and he's just sitting in the timeout super confident, really calm. Pretty much, [he] calms everybody down just with, just being him and being that leader he is, talking to everybody like 'We've got this. Trust me, we've got this.'"
"Whether it's in a big game or a small game, whenever he takes a contested 3-pointer, like off the dribble, I always think, like, man, he's definitely ready for the NBA. ... It was actually last year. I forgot who we were playing against, but he was in the corner, something happened, he, like, did a pivot and just, like, turned backwards and kind of spun and everybody thought he was going this way and he just turned back and shot a fadeaway 3 and he hit it. I'm like, 'Oh my God.'"
"I think we were playing Villanova. After he hurt his shin or something, he came in and knocked down three 3-pointers back-to-back-to-back from long range, defender right in his face. He was real gutty."
Now there's one last gut-check left: Monday night at 9 p.m. ET, UConn will face the talented freshmen of Kentucky.