Feb. 4, 2012
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Connecticut Associate Head Coach George Blaney
We told the players when Coach let us know that he wasn't going to be able to coach for however long it is going to be that...we were on a four-game losing streak and we needed to come back and be a Jim Calhoun team - which always means that you compete, and that you have great energy. The word was "all in," and the word was "energy."
We told them `Coach is out. We don't know how long he's going to be out for. You have to respond to myself and the coaching staff and be ready for today, Monday, and five weeks from now and the end of the season.' We need that kind of an effort from them every day.
I can't tell you how pleased I was with what happened. We were down 11-10, and it looked like a carbon copy of so many of the games that we've been having, where we get out to a little bit of a start and then hit a streak where we just played horrible offense, or miss shots. And it looked like that's what was going to happen. And we just hung in.
I was particularly pleased with Alex Oriakhi and Shabazz Napier, in that there was a light in their eyes. They played with energy, and both of them had eight rebounds.
I thought the three-guard line-up helped us in that the ball got moved much better. I'm still not particularly pleased with 43 percent, but I certainly will take it over what we've been doing.
On starting line-up
We looked at what was coming up with Seton Hall, Louisville and Syracuse, and probably were going to see a lot of zone. And you certainly need ball movement. Tyler is our best frontcourt passer....When you do move the ball on the top and get the ball changed from side of the court to the other, that's when you can penetrate zones. And both Ryan and Shabazz did a terrific job of that.
I told them maybe three different times during the game that the crowd deserved their effort. And the continued to get it. That's what they were so much in the game. Quite honestly, I was almost in tears at one point, with how loud it was and how much it stirred us on.
The whole key was energy and defense. And the defense didn't allow - Theodore had 19 points in the second half against us down there. They hit 10 threes down there. - They shot 25 percent. To me, that really good defense. So, we hung in.
We missed some really good shots. I was really happy with the shots that Jeremy got. Particularly, Shabazz got him three or four times on the break. He just missed them. You don't have a problem with that. He's way too good a shooter to worry about that. He'll make those. They were pretty good shots.
We definitely emphasized defense. We've been playing good defense but our offense hasn't been there. But tonight our offense was there and we were able to knock down some shots., move the ball, and really play a good game. Our crowd was behind us so that was a huge part.
We were going through some hard times as a team, not problems, but a bump in the road. Peoples' shot was off and people were out of sync. And Coach Calhoun is out right now so we're just going through a lot. We had a team meeting and came together because we're all brothers. Today we were able to play as a team.
On the crowd's positive response to the players smiles on the court
They could tell we were really into the game. There were some stale faces games before, but we just really tried to play hard.
On playing hard
Playing hard doesn't necessarily going out there at full speed. It means playing smart, knowing when to pick your poison, and not getting down on yourself or your teammates. It's the game of basketball. Everyone's going to make a run. It's just when they make that run how you respond. That's considered playing hard for us.
On the impact of the team meeting
We just wanted to win. Everyone got tired of going into the locker room with sad faces. Going on campus and you can't eat, can't sleep because you're thinking about the losses. Everybody was just tired of losing and we knew we had to do it together. We dug our self in the hole and we were the only ones that were going to get ourselves out. That's what we said in the meeting and that's what we did today.
We got a little saying that we say it called `all in' -- everybody's here to fight together. The whole time they were down there screaming, `all in.' The Seton Hall players were looking like, `what are they saying?' I knew from there it was going to be a good game for us.
On the crowd
I love playing here with the crowd. Even though we've been in our 4 game losing streak, they still come and support us. They see us and everybody still acts like we've been winning., like we're still ranked #4 in the country. Much love to them.
I think this is the start of something great.
I just wanted to go out there and give guys anything I could whether it was rebounding, defense, talking on defense, anything. I think it worked out for me tonight but I also think I can build off this.
What impact did Ryan Boatright have on this game?
He had a lot - finding guys, scoring the way he's capable of. He came off a bad game as well from Georgetown and picked himself right up tonight.
On the team's defense tonight
The defense was great. The guards did a great job. We told Shabazz, `you're one of the best defenders I've seen. You lock down some of the best guards in the country.' I think he took that personal. And he did a great job defensively. They weren't really able to hit a lot of shots. And the guards did a great job of rebounding.
Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard
When you lose a first-team, all league player, and the way Herbie's been playing it's one of those huge things, since we're not very deep. I think that's what really hurt us. We got into foul trouble with the big guys and we had to go small, and we haven't played small all year. It's tough to play small in this league.
It's little frustrating. We're getting good looks, we're just not making shots right now. That's three games in a row where we've gotten good looks and just can't make a shot. Eventually, you keep missing shots and keep missing shots, it wears on you as team. And it definitely wore on us as a team.
On technical fouls
I thought the refs called a good game. To be honest with you, there is one of them I don't get along with. I wanted to wish him a very happy Valentine's Day. He didn't like that, and that was the end of that....I don't mind getting blown out. I do have an issue when the refs enjoy the blow out. And I don't think they should be smiling or enjoying one team getting their butt kicked and another team not... That's what I saw....It's a good crew. That's a Final Four crew. The refs had nothing to do with the game. That's just me, and one guy.