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Seth Greenberg: ‘UConn is the closest thing right now to what Alabama was under Nick Saban’

With Alabama set to take on UConn in the Final Four on Saturday, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg made an interesting comparison between Dan Hurley and Nick Saban. Although Hurley certainly has a long way to go to reach Saban’s legendary status — he won his first championship just last year — Greenberg sees similarities in their coaching styles.

Saban was known for being extremely detailed in every aspect of his program as he expected extreme discipline from his players both on and off the field. Hurley, to Greenberg, is the same way in that his program demands players to do things in a very specific way.

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“You are your habits,” Greenberg said on College GameDay. “If you go and watch UConn practice and how they practice and their attention to detail and the accountability — I say it all the time — Danny Hurley is Saban-esque. Their process and what they do and the non-negotiables and their core beliefs are lived. Some places they’re talked about. Some places it’s a sign or a saying that’s on a wall. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with their approach.”

Saban retired this past season as perhaps the greatest coach in the history of college football. His seven national championships are the most of all-time and his 292 career wins put him sixth among all coaches.

Meanwhile, Hurley is starting to build his own legacy in a completely different sport. He has been the head coach at UConn for the past six years, and has guided them to the NCAA Tournament each of the past four seasons. He has an overall record of 139-58 and has the Huskies in position to defend last season’s championship.

UConn has breezed through each of its four opponents so far this March Madness to win by double digits every time, including 25 or more points in three of those contests. The Huskies are 35-3 on the season and it doesn’t seem like anybody will be able to stop them from waltzing to another title.

It’s a kind of dominance that certainly does reminds you of Nick Saban, and Greenberg explained that the journey began long before the season tipped off for Dan Hurley.

“It doesn’t start in November or October,” he said. “Their approach started with this basketball team in the summer in June and July. Getting these new guys to understand what UConn basketball’s all about. The expectations, the standard, the work ethic, the sacrifice, embracing roles, playing hard, being committed to the process. UConn is the closest thing right now to what Alabama was under Nick Saban. Not in the number of championships won, but in Dan’s approach.”

UConn and Alabama are set to tip off at 8:49 p.m. ET on Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The game will be televised on TBS.

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