UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams honored at White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTNH)–President Barack Obama honored the champion Huskies at a lively and upbeat ceremony at the White House on Monday.

It was the second straight year the UConn women made the trip, and the first trip for the men since 2011.

President Obama was chipper and playful as he joked about meeting both the men’s and women’s basketball champions in one ceremony. Normally, both the men’s and women’s basketball champions would make separate trips to the White House, but because the Huskies pulled off the unprecedented (for everyone else) dual national titles, they held one ceremony for both teams.

“As president, one of my goals has been to cut out duplicate programs to make things a little more efficient,” Obama joked. “But this might be taking things a little too far.”

He praised the UConn women for their dominant season, which ended with a perfect 40-0 record.

“There was not a lot of suspense during their season,” Obama said. “They gave me bragging rights [because] I picked them in my bracket,” the president said. “This was not hard. Me and 95% of the country picked them.”

The president also recognized the men’s recent success, as the Huskies have won four of the last sixteen national titles, twice as many as any other school in Division I.

“What’s up with you guys? Why aren’t you sharing?” Obama joked.

He didn’t let center Stefanie Dolson off the hook, either, making mention of her challenge to him.

“Stefanie, I did not forget that you challenged me to a dance-off last year. It is going to happen,” Obama said before breaking out some dance moves. “Don’t think–don’t think– that you’re going to beat me.”

While the president did pick the women to win the title, he admitted he wasn’t as confident in the seventh-seeded men.

“I also have to confess I did not pick the men to win in my bracket. Of course, neither did anybody else. Unless you went to UConn,” Obama joked.

“We were not counting on Shabazz Napier leading the way as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and hitting big shot after big shot, and locking down the perimeter defensively.”

The president referred to men’s coach Kevin Ollie towards the end of his speech, recalling a local beat writer’s vision for him.

“A sportswriter once referred to him as our future president,” Obama said. “I don’t know with a name like Kevin whether that’s possible, but who knows? Anything can happen.”

He left the Huskies with some fitting remarks.

“This really isn’t goodbye, probably, because I suspect I’ll see some of these folks before I leave office,” the president said.

You can bet Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie believe that as well.

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