UConn Motorcycle Escort

Motorcyle escort to airport in Phoenix in 2004. UConn men won titles in 1999 and 2004. When they pulled out of Phoenix they were headed to the Final four and the license plate proved prophetic for men and women, each of whom won the title in 2004. Click here to see the Courant's coverage of the wins. (Courtesy of UConn / February 24, 2014)

UConn won its first men's basketball national title in 1999 and was after a second in 2004.

On March 27, 2004, the Huskies defeated Alabama 87-71 in an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game in Phoenix. Ben Gordon, named most outstanding player of the Phoenix Regional, scored 36 points. Rashad Anderson scored 22 of his career-high 28 in the first half.

UConn was headed its second Final Four.

But first, the Huskies were headed back to Storrs. The UConn travel party was being escorted to the Phoenix airport for the return flight home.

Coach Jim Calhoun's wife, Pat, looking out the team bus window, noticed something unusual about the escort.

The two Phoenix police motorcycles had these license plates: 1999 and 2004.

Tim Tolokan, then sports information director at UConn handling men's basketball, now has a longer title and few have a longer memory when it comes to the rise of UConn men's basketball. He is associate athletic director for licensing and athletic traditions. Tolokan, who passed along this story, says none of this was a setup. These were just "two random motorcycles from the Phoenix Highway Patrol."

The motorcycle plates proved prophetic. UConn would win its second men's national title April 5 in San Antonio.

The Courant headline on the front page of the paper: "1 CROWN, 1 TO GO". Under it, the smaller headline: "Men's Victory Puts UConn On Threshold Of History".

In sports the headline was "2CONN", playing off the men's second title.

And the UConn women would go on to grab the NCAA national championship a few days later, making Storrs the basketball capital of the United States.

"Twice Is A First" was the headline on the front page The Courant. In Sports: "Make It A Double".

UConn became the first and only school in college basketball history to win titles in the same season.

That all led to a parade in Hartford April 18. The crowd was estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000, The Courant story noted that there "were marriage proposals for Diana Taurasi and Taliek Brown, for Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, and for Maria Conlon, who couldn't make the parade and will have to hear about it from her teammates."

The story also noted that there were many homemade signs, among them: ``Geno: Draft me in 2012''; ``Diana Rocks My Socks''; ``Emeka For President''; ``Calhoun 1, Yankees 0''; ``1 Diana + 1 Emeka = 2 champs."

At Kenney's Restaurant, now called Red Rock Tavern, which is on Capitol Avenue and was just off the parade route, there were lunch specials: The ``Okafor BBQ Pulled Pork'' sandwich and the ``Taurasi Honey Mustard Turkey Wrapper.''

``Okafor because he's from Texas,'' owner Don Mancini told the Courant that day with a smile, ``and Taurasi because she's a honey.''