Students celebrate championship win over Butler
Stanley Robinson shoots over a Florida A&M player.
UConn came out in full force to celebrate the NCAA men's basketball championship win over Butler.
Thousands of students, from all reaches of the Storrs campus, hurdled towards Fairfield Way to celebrate the 53-41 victory over Butler University. Students by the hundreds left the local bars and traveled towards the epicenter of the celebration, in order to celebrate the outcome of the game.
Fireworks went off near crowds of students on Fairfield Way, and were set off intermittently both on- and off-campus. Off-campus shouts could be heard as students celebrated at private parties.
"It was insane. It was basically like Spring Weekend came early," said Grace Vasington, a 4th-semester French and English major and copy editor for The Daily Campus. "I am so incredibly proud to go to UConn right."
Music resounded through the jubilant crowd as the students rang in a third championship under coach Jim Calhoun. People piled out of Gampel, and several students stood by idly taking video of the historic event.
Chelsea Oyer, an 8th-semester communications major, watched the game in Gampel Pavilion. "Everybody got pretty rambunctious in the second half," Oyer said. "When we got that ten point lead, everybody went crazy."
In 2004 the celebrations went from exuberant to destructive when students lit fires and flipped cars. UConn and state police mobilized to address concerns that left in the wake of the 2004. Police officers limited traffic into the area around West and Alumni, blocking off the area beyond the Co-op.
After the final buzzer sounded in Houston the crowd rushed outside and kept growing with people coming from all directions, screaming and yelling university cheers. There were students climbing up trees, and crowd surfing through Fairfield Way.
Interim President Philip Austin and UConn Police Chief Robert Hudd sent a message to the university urging everyone to keep the celebrations safe.
They warned students on the campus of the risks of losing control of the celebration, including the risks to their future.
"Unfortunately, too often at campuses across the nation post-game celebrations have gone from exuberant to destructive," they said in the message. "Nothing can be gained from harmful, destructive, or criminal actions."
Celebrating area residents started a fire outside of 87 Hunting Lodge Road following the game. UConn emergency officials also responded to a drug overdose call at North Residence Hall and a head injury outside Hall after midnight.
A light pole was also unearthed on campus.
The hum of the crowd could be heard late into the night, with students continuing to gather. There was an enormous amount of enthusiasm throughout the day. More than 1,000 fans went to Gampel yesterday morning to show their school spirit in a taping of NBC's Today Show. Later, students filled Gampel Pavilion to watch the game and support their Huskies men's basketball team.
The partying followed the same pattern as Saturday night's Final Four victory, when a crowd of more than 400 students gathered in front of the Student Union, while hundreds more marched down North Hillside and then onto North Eagleville, heading toward Celeron and Carriage.
The Huskies won the National Championship in 1999 in a 77-74 victory over Duke University, and again in 2004 an 82-73 victory over Georgia Tech.
The team's charter flight will arrive at Bradley International Airport at approximately 3:45 p.m. today.
An event will be held at Gampel at 5 p.m. that is free and open to the public.
Joseph Adinolfi and Brian Zahn contributed reporting.
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