1998-99 Season Recap
Most of the hoop-crazed Husky fans throughout the Nutmeg state would have been happy with a Final Four berth. They had been waiting for one for years and in 1999, the University of Connecticut reached the Final Four for the first time after some close calls through the years. While the wildly successful women's program at UConn hadn't exactly overshadowed the men's program, Geno Auriemma's team had a level of success unmatched by the men. Until this year.
But the UConn Huskies, led by Richard Hamilton, didn't stop there. Jim Calhoun's squad faced a heavily favored Duke team in the National Championship game and beat coach Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils in what was supposed to be a coronation for the nation's top-ranked squad.
Great defense from Ricky Moore along with contributions for Hamilton (27 points) and point guard Khalid El-Amin lifted the Huskies to the 77-74 win over Elton Brand and Co. Brand, the consensus national player of the year, led the Blue Devils to a 32-1 record in the regular season, with their sole loss coming by two points on the road against Cincinnati. The Blue Devils fell one game short of matching the 1991 and 1992 national champion Duke squads.
The title of tournament Cinderella belonged to Gonzaga in 1999. The tenth-seeded Bulldogs beat Minnesota, Stanford and Florida before losing by five to the eventual national champion Huskies in the Elite Eight. Other tourney surprises included North Carolina's first round loss to Weber State and Miami of Ohio's (Thanks to All-American Wally Sczerbiak) tournament run.
Purdue won the women's title breaking the stranglehold the Tennessee Lady Volunteers had on the national championship for the last several years. Senior guards Stephanie White-McCarty and Ukari Figgs led the way for Carolyn Peck's Boilermakers at the Final Four in San Jose. Purdue beat the perennial contending Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters in the semifinals then won the title with a 62-52 thumping of Duke in the national championship game.