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Welcome Home Celebrations For Husky Fans

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(Jessica Hill/AP Photo)

(Jessica Hill/AP Photo)

By PAT EATON-ROBB,  Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Star guard Kemba Walker, coach Jim Calhoun
and the national champion Connecticut Huskies will be welcomed home
with a victory rally at Gampel Pavilion.

The Huskies, 53-41 winners over Butler on Monday night in
Houston, are scheduled to arrive at Bradley International Airport
at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Calhoun will speak to fans at the airport before the team heads
to the campus for the victory celebration at Gampel Pavilion.

On Monday night, thousands of students stormed the court at
Gampel Pavilion after the Huskies finished off their third national
championship. More than 8,000 fans, mostly students, nearly filled
UConn’s home arena to watch the game on the scoreboards and three
large screens set up on the floor.

They erupted every time the Huskies scored. The sound became
deafening when Jeremy Lamb made a 3-pointer to put UConn ahead in
the second half. And with about 30 seconds left and the game no
longer in doubt, they began pouring onto the arena floor to
celebrate UConn’s third national championship, and first since
2004.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” screamed UConn women’s basketball star
Maya Moore, as she put her hands on her head while watching her
fellow students bounce up and down at midcourt.

The students then streamed out of the arena onto Stadium and
Hillside Roads for a street party that lasted into the early
morning.

“We became Huskies for this reason,” said Kaitlyn Herman, a
sophomore from Boston. “To just feel this school spirit, to all be
here together, just cheering on this one team and just to celebrate
together. It’s what we stand for.”

The students began filling Gampel two hours before game time,
chanting “Kemba Walker!” and “U!-C!-O!-N!-N! UConn! UConn!
UConn!”

Sophomore Ryan King, 19, of Berwyn, Pa., came with his body
painted blue and a big white “M” on his chest part of a group
spelling out the name “KEMBA.”

“It’s magical, man,” he said. “The student body coming
together, not many people get to see a Final Four while they’re
here.”

Some of the fans got a little too raucous.

Police say fans caused minor property damage on campus and in
Storrs, and several have been arrested.

Campus police say 12 people were arrested, five of them
students. UConn police Maj. Ronald Blicher said early Tuesday that
most of the charges involve vandalism and criminal mischief.

He says one car was flipped over and a couple of fires were
started in Dumpsters.
A couch was set on fire and a car was overturned at an
off-campus apartment complex. State police say a crowd of 200 or so
had gathered, and some were throwing bottles at troopers. They were
using dogs to disperse the crowd.

In 2004, the last time the UConn men won a championship, 35
people were arrested after rowdy fans started fires and overturned
some cars on and off campus.

University president Philip Austin and Police Chief Robert Hudd
sent an email to students Monday asking them to behave after the
national title game.

“Nothing can be gained from harmful, destructive, or criminal
actions,” they wrote. “However, anyone who engages in this sort
of behavior does have a great deal to lose, including risking
arrest and possible expulsion from the university.”
___=
Associated Press videojournalist Ted Shaffrey contributed to
this report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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