UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM HOME SPORT HOME
    Postgame Quotes

    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM
    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM

    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM

    April 8, 2014

    Recap |  Box Score |  Photo Gallery 1  |  Photo Gallery 2 

    Head Coach Kevin Ollie (CBS TV Interview)

    On winning the national title ...
    "I said in the beginning, 18 months ago when we started this process that the last is going to be the first. We always did it together and always played as a group. It was great. My coaching staff, my players, really, all of UConn being here, that is what it is all about. Coach (Jim) Calhoun, the greatest coach ever, he paved the way, and I just want to thank coach too."

    Head Coach Kevin Ollie (Podium) "It feels great, four national championships and do this championship with these students, these student athletes is amazing. They have been amazing and resilient the whole year. But I keep telling you, it started 18 months ago when they kept believing and they stayed loyal to the program. It's just a wonderful feeling to hold that trophy up and do it the right way. I think we did it the right way for 18 months and we did it the right way in this NCAA tournament.

    Take a step back, if you could, I know it's hard right now. What's going through your heart and mind right now? You have won the top prize in college basketball, the top prize for your profession, you've done it.

    "Yeah, it's a great feeling. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable because those guys, my players, stayed with the program. I'm the first one to deflect all the attention."

    A lot of teams, a lot of great teams are great at free throw shooting, a lot of great teams aren't great at free throw shooting, so how did you guys get so good at free throw shooting?

    "We just worked on it tirelessly in practice. It's competitive every time we do it. You got winners and losers. Of course the losers got to run sprints. They get real competitive with it. I think that's what we tried to create, that competitiveness in them, especially taking free throws. It's also getting the right people at the free throw line. Getting the right people with the ball at the end of the game so they can get fouled and they can knock down the shots.

    "But our guys are so composed. And in pressure, they are confident and we just worked. My coaching staff does a great job with our bigs, getting them extra free throws after practice and Coach Hobbs and Coach Miller and Coach Freeman and Coach Moore, they are outstanding. They always pride themselves on getting extra work. And then our student athletes just fall in line."

    You had a couple of tender moments with two of the most important women in your life after that game. Go into a little bit of detail, away from the basketball court, how those two have given you strength, and maybe likewise, you've returned that. But just over the past couple of years, and specifically since November, how powerful that connection has been in your home?

    "Yeah, spending time with my mother, she just had surgery and she has breast cancer and I know she's fighting. She kept fighting through chemo for four months. Just to see her make this trip and us win the National Championship and just see her smile is just real special to me. My wife gives me an opportunity to work and do what I do on a day to day basis and take care of home and take care of my mother. For her strength, she lost her father four months ago.

    "So it's been a tough year for us, in 2013 was tough. A lot of people didn't know it, but behind the scenes, we were just holding each other up. And without my wife, I couldn't be here doing this job. And for her to lose her father, the man in her life and to lose it and just keep lifting me up, keep providing for our family.

    "Then take my mother on when she is driving her to the hospital, to appointment after appointment, it's just a courageous woman. I'm glad she chose me and that's my No. 1 recruit right there."

    Niels missed a couple shots early in the first half and then it looked like he got kind of hesitant out there, but then he hit those two big threes in the second half. Did you say anything to him at halftime?

    "We just tell him to keep confident. Believe in yourself. You've been doing it the whole year. He's been shooting over 50 percent the whole year from three. So I know it was just a matter of time that he relaxed his shoulders, hold his follow through, just what he's been doing the whole year. He's been rock solid.

    "Even when he had shooting slumps like he did in a couple games, he got 11 rebounds one game. Still got 11 points another game. So he does so much other things on our team, it's just not the shooting.

    "But he's had a great year. I think it started in the summer when he played for the German National Team and got a chance to play against Tony Parker and held his own. He came in with a renewed confidence and I seen it right away in practice.

    From the outside this felt like one of the more improbable national titles in a while. I'm curious, from the inside, why don't you guys think this was improbable? Why didn't you during the season?

    "Yeah, somebody told me we were Cinderellas. And I was like, No, we're UConn. I mean, this is what we do. We are born for this. We bred it to cut down nets. We're not chasing championships, championships are chasing us.

    "We got four now, and Coach Calhoun started a tradition, and my whole coaching staff is from UConn. We are all been through the same things. And we love this university. We put this university first. It's always family first with us and they kept believing.

    "I told you, a lot of people was picking against us and doubting us, but I told you the last would be the first. We are first now. Last year we were last. We couldn't get in the tournament, but they kept believing. That's what it's all about.

    "You believe. I have a strong faith in God, and God is always going to make a way out of no way. And he made this way. And he gets all the glory."


    UConn Player Quotes

    Shabazz Napier, Senior, Guard (CBS TV Interview)

    On winning the title ...
    "Honestly, I want to get everyone's attention right quick. Ladies and gentleman, you are looking at the hungry Huskies. This is what happens."

    Ryan Boatright, Junior, Guard (CBS TV Interview)

    On almost not coming back in the game ...
    "I got a lot of heart, and I wasn't coming out. My teammates really helped, but we put in too much work all year for me to give up on an ankle sprain. This moment was too big."

    Ryan Boatright, Junior, Guard (Westwood One Radio Interview)

    How did you guys manage to pull this off...
    "Man, it took an unbelievable team. It took a special team. These guys right here, man, I love them to death man. They fought very hard this year. We stuck together. Everybody doubted us. We stuck together and pulled this National Championship out."

    On playing through his ankle sprain I the second half.
    "Man, heart man. I came too far to lose right now. I worked too hard in all my life to be in this position, and I wasn't gonna let an ankle sprain stop me."

    How do you describe this team coming from where it's been to where you are right now... "Unbelievable. Unbelievable man. One word. Unbelievable."

    Philip Nolan, Sophomore, Forward

    On winning the national title and what he did when the buzzer sounded ...
    "It's crazy and one of the best moments of my life. To be honest, I don't even remember. I think I hopped on the court before it buzzed. I definitely feel like we had one of the harder preseasons than any other school in the nation. But, it all pays off at the end of the day. We are here, and we won."

    On the team rebounding from the 33-point loss at Louisville on March 8 ...
    "After every game, whether it's a win or a loss, we put it behind us. We definitely weren't going to let that loss affect our season."

    Tyler Olander, Senior, Forward

    On coach Ollie...
    "He is going to keep UConn up in the elite status of basketball. I am so happy for Shabazz (Napier) and Niels (Giffey). I don't think there are any more deserving people than who are inside this room."

    On the team returning to the top after not making the tournament in 2013...
    "We just have an extreme belief in each other. We believe in the system, and we're so close to each other. It doesn't matter who is on the court and who is doing what in what game, especially Shabazz (Napier). He is a selfless leader who gives himself up for the better of the team."

    Terrence Samuel, Freshman, Guard

    On the future and his role on the team...
    "I see us getting back here. That is definitely the goal. I am just going to work hard this summer. I am going to start in the next couple of days. I am just trying to get better, and now I know what it takes to get here. I have seen everything there that is to see and it shouldn't be that hard. There isn't a lot of pressure now. There is pressure because you have big shoes to fill, but I have to accept the challenge"

    "Words can't explain how I feel right now. I am so glad the seniors can go out with a bang. When Niels (Giffey) passed me the ball, I said why not get two. I am going to remember that forever, scoring as a freshman in the national championship game."

    On his late game free throws ...
    "I just made sure that I made two out of the last three free throws. Really, I just wanted to make sure that I went to the basket, so that I could get to the line."

    On the offensive rebounds in the final minutes ...
    "It was just extra possessions which just took more time off for us. We had a couple of extra possessions and it just helped to have the ball in our hands."

    Niels Giffey, Senior, Guard

    On how the team needed a group effort in the final moments of the game...
    "We had a deeper bond. It was a lot about going to the next level and playing for the university and the teammates. I am so proud of the guys that stuck with this team. We believe in ourselves and that is the only thing that mattered. I remember Shabazz after that Louisville loss, he went back in the locker room and said we are going to cut down some nets, I promise you guys. I looked into his eyes and we believed him. We knew what it would take."

    On stepping up as senior the last few games...
    "I knew coming into these two games that we might not get scoring from other guys. They might just be nervous and might not be too comfortable with the situation. I had to get myself comfortable realizing that this is my team. I'm the captain of this team, and I had to step up."

    On UConn's veteran leadership staying together...
    "I hope that's one of the things that our story, that we wrote, really tells and that people can see and hopefully they learn a lesson from that. That it can really work out if you stay with one program for four years, and you stay with a core group of people and you really get to know each other on and off the court so well. You just create bonds that you will never forget and you will always have throughout your life.

    On the impact the veterans of UConn had in the game tonight over the youth of Kentucky...
    "I think we wanted it more. We don't have all these guys that are going to the NBA, and we were never too worried about that stuff that was coming after the season. So, I think it was more important for us to win this game, to go out and bring this program back on top. That's nothing against the Kentucky guys. I think they are all great kids, and they will have amazing careers. It was just something deep, deep in our hearts that we really wanted to win this game."

    Amida Brimah, Freshman, Center

    Coming in as the No. 7 seed ...
    "That's why we're here because nobody believed in us. We just wanted to get this far and prove we could get do what we did."

    On what was going through his end in the end ...
    "I was like, are we about to win the 'ship, man that's crazy. It was so, so surreal. It was the best feeling ever cutting down the nets. The best feeling ever."

    Omar Calhoun, Sophomore, Guard

    On Shabazz Napier...
    "He's going to go down in history as one of the best players to ever play at UConn. Not a lot of people have gone to a national championship and won it, so I feel like he just led the way. Shabazz (Napier) is definitely up there with Kemba (Walker). Kemba did some phenomenal things, but Shabazz is definitely right there. He led us, so he definitely gets a lot of credit for this."

    On feeling when the clock hit 0.0 ...
    "I just sat there and thought, we rushing the court, it is about to get crazy. You never think something like that is about to happen and just to see UConn with the win, it's just phenomenal. We just stuck together and anything is possible. I saw this experience here and just want to go out and do the same thing next year."

    Lasan Kromah, Senior, Guard

    On winning tonight ...
    "It was worth it. During the summer time, we grinded it out. At the end of the day, it was worth it through all the aches and pains. Day in and day out, we worked hard. This was brotherhood all the way. It's almost like a Cinderella story right here. This is something you dream of when you are laying in your bed, shooting a basketball, when you are younger. To be here, it is just phenomenal."

    Jim Calhoun, Former UConn Head Coach

    On the senior players...
    "I am so proud of our university, every one of those guys out there and the seniors. They have stuck with the program all the way through."

    On Shabazz Napier's play...
    "He is a great player. I think that when Chris Smith came here, the only thing we had was an NIT championship, and Shabazz is like him when he takes it to another level when the teams needs him to. They are great, great players. When you talk Ray (Allen), when you talk about Emeka (Okafor), Kemba (Walker) and now Shabazz Napier, you talk about greatness."

    Former UConn Basketball Alum Ray Allen

    On watching his alma mater win the national title as a No. 7 seed ...
    "It shows the great determination and resiliency of this team. We had a great regular season. I've seen a lot of these kids coming into this program as freshmen. I've known Kevin (Ollie) for 20 years. We played in Seattle together. It's been a great ride, and I am so proud of them. Nothing surprised me (about Kevin Ollie as a head coach). You know his spirit. You know his personality. You know what he is capable of doing and what he has in him. He is a person who will never give up on you or anyone else."


    Kentucky Coach John Calipari (CBS TV Interview)

    On getting this far...
    "I'm proud of these guys, and we had our chances to win. That game stayed a one-point game. We're missing shots, we're missing free throws and we hung in there. These kids never gave up. I needed to do a couple more things to help get them over the hump and ah we just didn't have enough.

    "We couldn't foul late. I know people are asking 'Why didn't you foul?" Because they're not missing. Those guards never miss. Our best chance was two-possession game, stop and make a basket, timeout, you know, try to steal. That was our best chance. And we had our chance. We just you know missed the shots and free throws we needed to make."

    You must be very proud of these kids, They were in it and could have won it...
    "Chances! I thought at halftime we were gonna win the game. I thought the start of the half, and then I saw the game kinda go a little wild. And we went zone and dried their sweat a little bit because they were the aggressor and it got them to back up a little bit and slow down. They gave us our chance. And that's all I can ask these guys 'Put us in that position'. Then as the coach, that's your job to put them over the top. Give 'em something, give 'em something extra and we didn't give them enough to get them over the top."

    Final words in the locker room
    "I told them, I'm proud. Don't you hang your head. I said, "We had our chances to win". So that's what this is about. I said "you know, we marched through this thing and did good stuff. Keep your head up."

    Aaron Harrison, Freshman, Guard

    On what went wrong...
    "We just didn't come out with enough energy out there. I guess we were a little bit nervous. They are a good team. They have good guards and they are just a better team."

    On how UConn kept them off the offensive glass
    "I don't know. They are just a well-coached team, and they came in really ready to play. It took us awhile to get started and when you have good guards, you can't really just do that because they can control the ball, control the game and we just ran out of time."

    On Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright always hitting a big shot when Kentucky got close...
    "That is what comes with being a good player. They are both good players and they just hit some daggers."

    Jon Hood, Senior, Guard

    On being on the court for the last time...
    "It hurts. It will never happen again."

    On being close to ending his last game on a high...
    "We thought we were going to win the game coming in. We were confident and like I said, that is why you play the game. They were the better team today and they deserve to win. That is just how it happened."

    On what he thought happened tonight...
    "They played better than we did. It is really all it boils down to. They played good and we had stretches where we lost it. We couldn't put it in the hole. They played better than us."

    Dakari Johnson, Freshman, Center

    On the difference in the game ...
    "We just tried to fight back. They were a good team. They finished it off."

    On UConn's edge in the paint ...
    "They did a good job having multiple guys in the paint, especially on rebounds. They did a good job of boxing out and getting the rebound."

    On Kentucky's season overall ...
    "I think we proved a lot. Of course, we would have loved to have won the last one. It's tough right now, but I think we had a good run."

    Andrew Harrison, Freshman, Guard

    On the difference in the game ...
    "We missed free throws. We missed a lot of free throws. That's pretty much it. It was just one of those days, and they hit a lot of tough shots on us; A lot of contested, hard shots."

    On Shabazz Napier's play ...
    "He's a good player. He made a lot of tough shots on us."

    Marcus Lee, Freshman, Forward

    On what it feels like to get so close and lose in the championship game...
    "Just getting so close and losing is the worst feeling I have ever felt right now. Just trying to get through it. We were so close and had it slipping out of our hands."

    Jarrod Polson, Senior, Guard

    On being able to get close, but not get in front during the second half...
    "Usually, when we make those runs, we get a lead or something like that. We never seemed to finish a run; and a credit to them that they hit some big shots. At the end of the day, it was their night. They hit the tough shots. This whole tournament we had been hitting those shots. Just the way it went."

    On how special the run has been with all the close games and getting this far...
    "We have come so far. We are all really good friends. I think that is what made the run so special is how well we got along. Just that we were doing it together and having fun with it."

    Alex Poythress, Sophomore, Forward

    On Connecticut...
    "They are a great team. They hit some big shots. We missed a couple of free throws. You can't win like that."

    On Kentucky's postseason run...
    "This hurts. We got so close, but we just couldn't pull it out."

    On tonight's game...
    "They played a great game. They hit some big shots. We had to switch up our defense a little bit. They have some great players who are well-coached. We just have to tip our hat off to them."

    On Kentucky's defense...
    "The zone was working. It was working when we played man a little bit, too. [Connecticut] just played a good game and hit big shots. We played great defense."

    On pregame nerves...
    "There were some nerves, but that flew out the window once we started playing."

    On Kentucky's comeback effort...
    "We thought we were always going to come back. We got so close and pulled within three or something like that. They just hit big shots to stretch out the lead."

     

     

    Shop