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Connecticut's DeAndre Daniels, left, and Shabazz Napier, in white shirt, watch the crowd during a parade in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014, celebrating the men's and the women's basketball teams both winning the NCAA national basketball championship.  (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy holds a shirt in his office Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Hartford, Conn., as members of the UConn men's and women's basketball teams join him before a parade to honor their NCAA college basketball championships. AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, left, talks with Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in his office on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Hartford, Conn., to celebrate UConn men's and women's NCAA college basketball championships. AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Members of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams gather with Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in his office, Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Hartford, Conn. Both teams won the NCAA championship. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, center, Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, left, and men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie celebrate UConn's titles in the NCAA women's and men's tournaments, during a rally at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie gestures during a celebration of UConn's championships in the NCAA men's and women's tournaments, at a rally at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson interacts with with fans after a parade in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014, celebrating her team's  recent NCAA national basketball championship. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut's Niels Giffey watches the fans during a parade in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014, celebrating his team's  recent NCAA national basketball championship. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut's Ryan Boatright smiles during a parade celebrating the men's basketball team's victory in the NCAA tournament, in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie waves to a crowd during a parade in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014, celebrating UConn's wins in the NCAA men's and women's tournaments earlier this month. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Members of Connecticut's women's basketball team wave to the crowd during a parade in Hartford, Conn., Sunday, April 13, 2014, while celebrating their recent NCAA national championship. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut women's coach Geno Auriemma, right, and associate head coach Chris Daily wave to a crowd during a parade in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014, celebrating the team's NCAA championship. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Connecticut's Breanna Stewart, center, looks back at Bria Hartley, top right, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, bottom, during a parade celebrating their team's NCAA women's college basketball championship, in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham) Members of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams are greeted by large crowds as they ride in two busses during a parade celebrating their recent NCAA national championships in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

Large crowds cheer UConn champion basketball teams


HARTFORD (AP) — Nothing like a big win to draw big crowds. But back-to-back victories bring out the biggest.

Hundreds of thousands of University of Connecticut fans jammed the streets of downtown Hartford on Sunday screaming for their victorious UConn Huskies.

Police described the outpouring as the largest parade the city of Hartford has seen since it’s been keeping record — bigger than the St. Patrick’s Day parade, bigger than the 2004 UConn basketball celebration.

“Next to having my children and marrying my wife, this is the greatest moment of my life,” said UConn alumnus Brian Fitzgerald of Glastonbury as he cheered the team.

Fitzgerald had stood in the stands in Texas several days earlier, cheering on the men’s team as they won the NCAA championship. The women won the next day, emerging victorious over a strong Notre Dame team.

The women’s dominance was unsurprising — they have won a record nine NCAA championships under coach Geno Auriemma, beating the previous NCAA record of eight wins by the University of Tennessee women’s team.

The men’s win was more stunning, an unexpected run with neophyte coach and former UConn star Kevin Ollie that gave the men a fourth national title.

On Sunday, the women waved gleefully from an open truck rolling out of the state Capitol grounds onto the streets, followed by a truck carrying a grinning men’s team.

A passel of leashed Siberian Huskies — the UConn mascot — and their handlers strode by, Mariana Aguirre of Bristol waved a sign reading “Top Dogs Again.” A fan of the women’s team, Aguirre stood with a crowd of friends who included UConn alumni.

“I like the discipline the women show,” she said. “I like how they do everything.”

Both team coaches were generous in their praise of their supporters.

“I enjoyed the parade because we shared it with the women’s team,” said Ollie. “Everybody is saying ‘thank you’ to us. But I want to say ‘thank you’ to the fans.”

Auriemma was equally appreciative.

“The notion of thank you — as if we did something for them. We gave them an opportunity to get excited, to get involved, to turn the TV on and say ‘that’s my team,’ but the one word I keep using is passion. There is a passion for basketball in Connecticut and I say thank you.”

The state’s political contingent, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, along with UConn President Susan Herbst spoke at a post-parade rally at the Capitol building, where thousands of fans howled in unison as the winning coaches stepped up to the podium.

Afterward, guard Ryan Boatright talked about the men’s longshot victory.

“We had confidence, so it didn’t matter what other people were saying,” he said. “It was us against the world, and we won.”



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