March 7, 2012
COACH CALHOUN: Well, needless to say, I'm not sure what Bobby (Huggins) would have said, but -- actually I loved coaching against Bobby and all of our guys that I know and some of these other guys I don't know all that well. But he knows that next week is an important week for all of us.
For us, we got pounded on the boards. We know that. It's kind of been happening a little bit, and we couldn't get our front court woken up. I think Alex did a good job. I thought both Roscoe and Andre did not play well early. But we hung in there. We were right there, okay. And then the constant pounding, because you see all those offensive rebounds, you also remember that about six or seven of them are blocked shots.
They seem to get every blocked shot that we had. So not that it's misleading, but we played defensive a little bit different than maybe some other teams, and down the stretch it did help since we blocked two of their lay-ups.
Point being is that I thought we were going to win the game in regulation. Once Shabazz made his three, it was true, we were only down four at that point, or two, and we ran out of -- we got into overtime, of course losing Shabazz and all the things that did happen.
But as I see the second half and I see the overtime, Jones who was a tremendous basketball player, and I just got a chance to tell him so, I don't think he scored a heck of a lot over the last 15 minutes. As a matter of fact I don't quite frankly remember him scoring.
I think that Bryant had a very difficult time. Shabazz did an incredible job on him. We all did a good job switching because at times Shabazz was just great -- wasn't good defensively, he was great. Bryant is a hell of a player. And then we ran a little something late in the overtime which eventually became the game winner, and that's kind of a Ray Allen. All we did was kind of change up our circle play and sent a cross screen with Alex across for -- and they were waiting for the whirlwind and we went straight at him and came off, and we were just talking about this a game or two ago when he didn't shoot the ball, and I said no, the other guy is what we want to shoot it.
That's your job. Your job is to shoot the basketball. What a great job for most people. We changed it up a bit and he got open and there wasn't an ounce of hesitation and made a big three and we hung on down the stretch.
I couldn't be prouder of our kids. I think for a team that obviously has had its ups, downs, no coach, no Boatright, all the various things that have happened to us, that's not -- those are things that happen and they happen to other teams. But I can't judge that.
I only can judge mine, my family, my guys, and my guys have come back, won three in a row, and I truly believe that a coach couldn't be prouder. And I honestly mean this. It's a funny word to throw around because you know you've had some moments to be proud, and honestly bigger places because you know what the BIG EAST Tournament means to me, but that's one heck of a win.
It's two teams finding different ways there, front-court power, backcourt quickness. We had some terrific steals for lay-ups. So it was a great battle, and if they had won the game, they could have won the game, but my guys weren't going to let them, and again, I'm so proud.
I thought Shabazz was close to magnificent. I thought Jeremy stepped up like the big time player that he is, Alex Oriakhi was great. And let me just get back to Andre Drummond for a moment. He didn't play 30 minutes very well. He didn't compete the way I want him to compete. He's young. He's still learning what this whole deal is about and you guys know what Madison Square Garden and March is about. It's different, and even the games themselves are different. But with ten minutes to go, I think my guys would say the same thing.
I think West Virginia is a very good team. But that was a 20-second game against top level competition. I'm not going to politic. I'm just telling you, if you look at our record, you say, well, they only have 20 wins, yet we played some people. We played some people, folks. Knock off four of those. So we've got four. I'm telling you the honest truth. This team has been through something and maybe it's a little different and maybe some of the guys I see every single day would tell you, I don't know what it is but they look a little different in how they respond to different things, and once again, I couldn't be prouder of them. Thank you.
Q. How big, especially tomorrow, is it going to be for Roscoe to play a big role?
COACH CALHOUN: Yeah, and maybe just the way it worked out today, he didn't have such a great game, and that's fine, because we can go back and forth to different games and the three of us can talk about, this game and that game and so forth. Roscoe is going to be there for us. He's starting to understand who he is, what is he. He can do all kinds of different things. He couldn't get himself going today. That happens. He got posted up by big guys. He normally plays threes and fours defensively, can play any perimeter person, but yeah, he'll be big tomorrow because we've got to crack that zone.
Q. That was West Virginia's last Big East Tournament game ever. Can you talk about the significance of that and what the league will look like without them and Temple next year?
COACH CALHOUN: Yeah, first of all, I think Temple is a great addition. Temple will be a great addition to our league. They've got a tremendous coach, it's a great city for basketball, and I know that it will make an incredible trip there for a lot of folks.
West Virginia leaving is sad in many, many ways. One of the great experiences that UConn ever had, 1987, '88, we go down there and we're down two, Tate George makes a bank shot to send us to overtime and we hadn't won anything from a national perspective, and we win. We go on to win the NIT that year, beat Ohio State in 1988,
my second year there, and I remember walking around the coliseum, got the early update of the shoot-around, looking at the history. I'm going to miss them greatly.
I'm going to miss Bobby, going to miss the competitiveness, that's the kind of game you play against them, and he's heading on his way to being a Hall of Fame coach. I don't think this league needs to be losing Hall of Fame coaches. I know it's not basketball driven, but I'm going to miss them a great deal.
I think West Virginia has been a great addition to this league, and from Jerry West to all the other great things that have happened, we're going to miss them a great deal. They run a tremendous program, and my good friend John Bilein was there before and now Bobby, I'm going to miss them personally. It's a place I like going. It was tough. Yes, I'm going to miss them a great deal.
Q. Shabazz, given the way you played on pretty much both ends of the floor, what was the feeling checking out with 2:30 to play?
Shabazz Napier: First, I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know I had four fouls, and then when I heard a lot of West Virginia fans going crazy, then it kind of hit me, wow, I got my fifth foul. I didn't know that at all.
But I have faith in my teammates no matter what. I know Jeremy, I know boat, I know Andre and them guys, they're going to miss me, but I love watching them play because they play with a lot of heart.
That's exactly what they did. I told Jeremy, you've got to be willing to shoot now, you've got to be looking for hits, and when he came off that curve, there was no doubt in my mind it was going in because that's what he works on in practice, that's what we work on in practice. I yelled at Boat for missing three free throws, but boat is always there for us. Go back to the first game he came and he knocked down three free throws we needed for Florida State.
That's what he gives you, he gives you a lot of heart no matter what. He
played with a lot of heart like Andre. Andre is young but even out there he gave us all he got.
He played Kevin Jones for the last minute and that's all we want from everybody on the team, you just want them to show up.
Q. Can you talk about that play, that three-pointer you hit?
Jeremy Lamb: I knew we needed a score, and in the game yesterday, Coach told me to shoot, and I didn't take a shot. Coach was just saying, I want you shooting the ball. So today they ran a play for me. They set great screens and I was able to get wide open, have a little time to set my feet, and I just shot it with confidence, and thank God it went in.
UCONN OFFICIAL STORE
UCONN OFFICIAL AUCTIONS