Kevin Ollie grabbed the microphone at UConn's final home game of the year and told the crowd that remained that he plans on coming back to Gampel in early April to celebrate a national title.
UConn was barely just ranked at the time, was a couple of days before being drubbed by 33 at Louisville, and perhaps the only one who believed that UConn was setting up for another title run was Ollie himself.
It sounded funny because Ollie was absolutely positive that it could happen. It was a ballsy statement and the crowd cheered -- hey if the coach believes why not you? -- and went on its marry way.
No one expected it because UConn wasn't ranked highly enough and every "expert" kept on telling UConn what it couldn't do, that some wins were a fluke and they didn't really beat anyone.
Ollie was asked about it at the press conference after the game. He was a little quizzical at the reaction from the media, which isn't used to such bold pronouncements.
Ollie doesn't blow smoke. He tells the truth and believes what he says.
"I got confidence in my guys. I believe in them," Ollie said after a win over Rutgers at Gampel. "We got a chance, like 68 other teams, why not think it?...I believe we are going to win the national championship...it's nothing, I got faith in my team."
He talks like a preacher, he delivers like a prophet.
Ollie was just being truthful. He believed it, he made sure he players believed it, and when they got the chance to put it into action have looked every bit as good as any team in the tournament.
UConn, as a No. 7 seed, has played about as well as anyone in the NCAA tournament as it beat Florida on Saturday 63-53 with a sensational defensive effort.
UConn will look for its fourth national title in 15 years, second in four years and are now an incredible 7-1 in the Final Four all-time including three national championships.
Think about this -- UConn has beaten the A-10 champ (St. Joe's), the Big East champ (Villanova), the Big 12 champ (Iowa State), the B1G Champ (Michigan State) and the SEC Champ (Florida) to get here. There is no Tennessee-Chattanooga in that bunch. The Huskies beat a 10, 2, 3,4 and one-seed to get here.
That is no fluke.
This one would be sweeter than almost all of them. Even getting this far has rejuvenated UConn basketball.
The Huskies were left for dead two years ago. Road kill and conference realignment losers and without head coach Jim Calhoun, past its time in national relevance.
The Huskies had an APR ban to deal with, break in a new coach, and many wondered if UConn was the modern equivalent of UNLV. The one time power under Jerry Tarkanian hasn't been relevant in 20 years.
Without the great coach, was UConn's time over?
Ollie always believed UConn was the greatest job in America and what this March has done is prove that it may just be that.
UConn basketball ins't going anywhere.
Huskymania is alive.
The Huskies rode the defense of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier and some great in-game adjustments by Ollie to stun Florida, this time 63-53.
How was this game different than the first game, a 65-64 win at Gampel that too many national pundits dismissed as an accident?
UConn dominated the paint with a 36-24 edge inside, unheard of. How about rebounds?
UConn held a 28-27 advantage.
UConn shot 55.8 percent, was 14 of 22 from the floor against one of the best defensive teams in the nation, and got only 12 points on six shots from Napier.
How is that for the unexpected?
That's the thing with Ollie. He's not only a preacher, a prophet, he's also a hell of a coach, something that Calhoun knew and all but forced his hire. Warde Manuel only needed a couple of months before he knew.
The rest of the nation now knows.
Let's see what's happened. Against Tom Izzo and powerful Michigan State, Ollie constructed a intense ball pressure defense and a swarming in the post to hold the Spartans to six points in the paint. Six.
The Gators had the Huskies beat. The pick and rolls with Napier early were well-defended and UConn trailed 16-4 10 minutes in.
Ollie told his team to keep fighting, kept them in the game, and also changed the entire offense.
The players believed.
"We have been through a lot with each other," Boatright said. "The group of guys has been together for three years, in in them three years, we have been through a lot. We love each other and we believe in each other."
What did Napier think of the 16-4 start and how the Huskies needed to get out of it?
"We have been through a lot of dog fights and we continue to believe in each other," Napier said. "We didn't point fingers when we were down. We just understood that this was a game, going to be a game of runs. "
Ollie had is team believing, but he also changed on the fly.
He went small, Boatright, Napier and Terrence Samuel in the three PG look. It stopped the pressure, put pressure on the Florida guards and created spacing for Daniels to do his thing. Daniels, an impossible cover when he's playing with energy, had 20 points and 10 boards. Napier was the decoy, Daniels was the go-to guy and essentially the Huskies' offense changed radically from what they were doing.
Florida was advertised as perhaps the best defensive team in the country. In the Final Four, UConn hit nine straight shots in the second half, all of them in the paint, and shredded the defense.
Samuel had four points in 18 minutes --he was a DNP-CD in the first meeting -- and was the release vale on offense.
The Huskies went small, went big and did whatever it had to do to win.
Boatright, the one-time scorer, was a defensive star again in harassing Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill to the point that both looked unable to function. Boatright only took nine shots, hit five and had 13 points six rebounds and three assists.
The Huskies have become the team that confounds critics. They were supposed to be dead when Calhoun left, but still win.
They were supposed to be too small inside and not big enough, but dominate the paint.
They were supposed to be a one-man team in Napier, but win when he takes only six shots.
"I'm not in ya'll's heads," Ollie said. "I don't know if y'all keep thinking it's a win man team, but it's not. We got great players."
The only one who thought UConn was a national title team was Ollie. It wasn't blind belief or faith, it's because he knows what he has, and as we saw at Gampel, if you just ask him his thoughts, he'll give a truthful answer.
Ollie hasn't been wrong yet. He's 51-18 as a college coach, 5-0 in the NCAA tournament and playing for the national title on Monday night.
UConn couldn't be in better hands.