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UConn 65, Florida 64 Quotes

Dec. 2, 2013

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UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie 

"I'm happy, but I'm a little exhausted.  Another one-point game but, once again, we showed our resolve. We didn't do a lot of things but, at the end of the day, we got a win, because it's about our heart.  We're not the biggest team in America but, man, I wouldn't trade our heart for anybody.

"It's heart that's going to get you through.  Sometimes you can't go over the top of it, you can't go under it, you've got to go right through it. That's what this team is doing. 

"You look on this stat sheet.  I don't know how we do it...They shoot 49 percent and out-rebound us but, at the end of the day, we get it done.  It's a magical team.  They've been through a lot.

"The three-point line really helped us....That allowed us to stay in the game. 

On Florida

"They're going to be real good.  That's money in the bank right there. In March, they're going to be a team to be reckoned with. 

On Napier

"Shabazz was phenomenal.  Whenever we need a big shot, he makes that.  Whenever we need a play to be made, he made that...he's got so much heart.   Hopefully, America is starting to look at him as that man.  He's got so much heart.  I love the kid to death.  One of the big time players to ever put this jersey on and walk on the court at Gampel. 

On last play

"It kind of reminded me of Richard Hamilton.... It was just a tap back and then the fade away shot.

What was the contingency play?

"Shabazz, make a play.  When they get a trap, Shabazz make the pass.  Shabazz is so clever, he's trapped, and then he got through the trap, they knocked it out of his hands and then he got it back again.  I knew they were going to take the ball out of his hands.  That's what you're going to do against great players. He's been making shots, he made the four-point play.  So I knew they were going to get it off his hands.  I wanted to get it over to Ryan Boatright or DeAndre - make a play and try to get to the bucket."


Senior Guard Shabazz Napier

Take us through those last few seconds

"Coach drew up a play.  We kind of knew they would be in a 1-3-1 zone.  He just tried to get a ball screen for me and I knew they were going to trap it.  As soon as I saw them trap it, I tried to get through it and he tipped the ball and it was kind of a little chaotic after that.  I had the ball and I thought to myself, `I could take this shot.'  I shot it.  I missed it terribly and I was glad DeAndre ran to the board.  DeAndre put a hand on the ball and it bounced up higher and I was able to be in the right spot at the right time.  I shot the ball and I knew it was going in.  When stuff like that happens, when it comes down to the last seconds, the game seems much slower than it is.  As soon as I grabbed the ball it was like .9 seconds left.  It just felt so slow -- .9... .8 - and I just tried to shoot the ball as quick as I possibly can but, at the same time, shoot it regular.  And as soon as I let it go, I felt like it was going in.  I was just running around like I twisted my ankle."

On being outrebounded

"Coach Ollie told us during the game, `we're not going to win the rebounding battle.'  As you can see, we didn't.  But he told us we've got to find other ways to win. 

On the 3-pointer (and 4-point play) with just over a minute left

"At a 1 minute 20 something seconds left, we drew up a play to get a 3 point shot.  I missed the first one.  I don't know if it was Niels that got the rebound but we got it back.  And then I got the rebound.  It was just so chaotic.  And I felt like if I got another chance with the shot I was going to make it.  I'm glad I did.  I actually didn't see it go in.  I just came down I think on his foot and heard the crowd's reaction.  I knew it went in after that.

Is that a moment you've thought of - hitting the game-winner?

"As a kid, you always think that.  You always see highlight films of guys hitting the last shot or guys at the free throw line making the free throws.  You want to be the hero.  You want to be the guy who's known as the hero at the end of the game.  Growing up, I wanted to be Superman.  Everyone wants to be a hero.  I was just fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time.

Were you Superman tonight?

"No, Superman does it on his own.  I can't do it without my teammates.  They made sure I got the right picks.  DeAndre put a good hand on the ball at the last second.  We found a way to win when we knew we couldn't rebound.  We usually battle with the big guys, like we did with Maryland and Indiana, but today wasn't the day.  We found another way to win.

On the play in which he hurt his ankle taking the 3-point shot with just over a minute remaining

"The athletic trainer, it's ironic, he taped my ankle so hard today.  I'm thinking in my head, `why is he taping my ankle so hard.  It's not normal.'  But I didn't say anything and I'm glad I didn't.  Who would have known that I would have twisted my ankle in the game. If he would have taped it a little lighter, I probably would have hurt myself even more.

On the team's heart

"We have tremendous heart.  We just believe in every opportunity that we get that we're going to be successful.  And to be a great team, you want that.  We're not a great team right now, but we're trying to push for it.  Coach Ollie always says, `without struggle, there's no progression.'  There was a lot of struggle today and we're just happy we got this win.  It was a big win for us."


Junior forward DeAndre Daniels

On tipping the ball to Shabazz before the game winning shot

"I was just trying to crash the boards hard, just trying to get a tip-in in case he missed.  I guess I glimpsed it a little bit.  But what an amazing shot.  Shabazz, he's a great player.  He willed his team to win.  He never gave up.  The heart the kid has - I hope everybody on the team follows his lead.

"I don't even know if I touched it or not, but I was really close.  I almost had it and it bounced out to Shabazz and he hit that amazing shot.

So you weren't actually trying to tip it to Shabazz?

"Yeah I was trying to tip it to Shabazz so I think they should put that into the books as an assist.

On trying to play against the big front court of Florida

"That was a grown man's game with their bigs down low.  Patrick Young is a great player, very strong, and he played well tonight and got a couple of our big guys in foul trouble.  We stayed through adversity when our bigs were out.  We just wanted to box out and try to not let him get the ball in the post.

How important was the crowd tonight?

In the three years I've been here, that's the best I've seen Gampel.  It was very loud.  Without the fans we wouldn't be able to pull that game out."

Senior forward Niels Giffey

"As long as you have Shabazz on the team, it's going to be a pretty good team.

On Shabazz making his last second shot

"Sometimes it's really not fair.  He puts the ball up against 4 guys and somehow it ends up back in his hands.  I think DeAndre tipped it.  But in the end everything happens for a reason.  I think we just outlasted them."

Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan

"I've got a lot of respect for Napier at the end of games.  I think he's a big shot-making guy.

On last play

"We made the decision that we were going to trap him.  And we did trap him and we got him to take a very, very difficult, off balance shot.  The guy that won the game for him was DeAndre Daniels.  He made an unbelievable tip out, off balance, which kept the ball alive. We had guys that were on Napier run to the rim, to go defensive rebound, which left space for Napier.  We needed to keep a guy there, and we didn't. I thought we did a really good job defensively....I was more disappointed in the possession before where we were up by three. We had two opportunities to rebound the basketball.  Those two offensive rebounds hurt us. 

"I was concerned coming down the stretch with Scottie being out.  I didn't think that we could guard Napier, at least for that three minutes.  So we decided to play 1-3-1 zone and try to use our length....We went man just on the last possession. 

"I give our guys a lot of credit.  We battled and fought.  We took a lead, their kids really battled back and took the lead.  And then we got down.  We got up there in the second half, they came back and took the lead.  We battled back and took the lead. 

"I was really proud of our guys coming down the stretch offensively.  I was very concerned with three minutes to go and there's no point guard on the floor.  And what we were going to be able to do offensively.  And I thought our guys really did a great job of running offense."