Dec. 22, 2011
Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun
In the second half, we weren't playing well early in the half, with 12, 13, 14 minutes to go, up 20, we looked at the scoreboard and decided it was time to go home for Christmas. Give Fairfield and Coach Johnson a great deal of credit. They stepped in, made a whole bunch of threes, and played a different game than they've played all year. They played a rat game all up and down the court. And we stopped playing.
Two weeks down the line, it's going to say "Connecticut, 10 and 1."
We stopped playing. We just stopped playing. And when that happens, the snowball gets bigger and faster and faster.
We had a great first half tonight. I thought Andre was going to get 20 rebounds tonight. In the second half, we just didn't show up....Our body language changed and we just didn't play well.
They got into a pace game with us and, quite frankly, were beating us in the second half at that. And I give them a great deal of credit.
Thank God we were home. The fans helped us. And secondly, we had a couple of guys step up when we needed them to.
Whatever it was, we lost whatever mojo we had and they picked it up. We're 10 and 1.
They probably don't even know what eggnog is, but they were eggnogging it at one point in time.
Just look at the stats and make your own mind up what happened. Technical adjustments? No. Scoreboard adjustments. We looked and saw we had a 20 point lead and played that way. Fairfield didn't feel like they were out of the game and kept on playing, came back, made a lot of great threes and worked hard. Give them all the credit for coming back.
I thought Shabazz was on his way to a 40 point game. I think he just got tired out from pushing the ball the whole time.
He played awful tonight. He made a big play. He was awful tonight. It's the first game that I would say, for a really good player, he was awful. And he made a good play. He was part of the problem when he came in. He read the scoreboard and thought it was time for us just to go. And he hurt us a little bit. Being the kind of competitor that he is, he makes a big shot to put the game away.
UConn Men's Basketball v. Fairfield
Fairfield Coach Sydney Johnson and Players
December 22, 2011
Coach Sydney Johnson
Obviously we wanted to win the game. We dug ourselves a sizeable hole against a top 10 team - it's a lot to ask. We asked that of them and the guys battled back but we lost. At the end of the day, we lost.
Do you see this as a moral victory?
I think college basketball's getting to the point where mid-majors are beating Big East teams. I don't think there's a lot of room for moral victories anymore. I think these guys know that. We're pretty disappointed and if we weren't, I'd worry about us going into league play. We can't take a moral victory. We know we were awful for the first 20 minutes. And we know we played well the last 20 minutes. Obviously you can't beat Connecticut that way, but there are also very good teams in our league and we're going to come up short if we play like we did tonight.
Like Rakim said, there was a little more trust there in the second half and that's just who we got to be. We've been building up to playing that way and I hope that we continue. I think we're a good team when we play the right way. And you saw the best of us and, unfortunately, you saw the worst of us.
On how his team fought back after being down so much
For me, that's why I coach, to be honest. We would like to win games and win championships, and that's all great. But to see them put their heart out on the floor is really special to me. I just want to make sure we get it to 40 minutes a game.
What were you doing in the second half that was working that wasn't working in the first half?
Everybody had confidence in each other. In the first half, some people hesitated in making some passes. But in the second half, everybody was loose and just had confidence that the next person would hit the shot or make the next play.
It was exciting, but I'm kind of glad that it's over now and we can move on to the next game. It's an experience not many people can say they had. I'm lucky to have shared this with my family and my brother.
On blocking his brother's shot
It was a ball screen. He was rolling in and I was in position to help. It was just kind of set up where we were going to meet at the rim and one of us was going to win. And I didn't want to lose that one, especially that one.
Any extra nerves in the first half?
Not really any extra nerves, more excitement. I tried to treat it as another game as much as I could, but it isn't always easy.
Connecticut Men's Basketball vs. Fairfield
I think we came out with a lot of energy [in the first half]. We fell off a little in the second half and let them back in. We came back together and pulled out a "W".
We've been working hard. We've been trying to work on our killer instinct and just like stomp on teams, just get to that extra push.
We just slowed down a little bit [in the second half]. We weren't pushing the ball as much anymore. That's what really like killed us a little bit.
We've just got to come together as a team, man. We fell apart in the second half when they started making that run.
It was a little bit of everything. We let our guard down. We stopped playing.
On playing during Coach Calhoun's absence
That's why we've really got to come together. I think over the [class] break everyone going to get to clear their head. We're going to get to rest our legs and go out there and get those three games for him.
On playing during Coach Calhoun's absence
We've just got to listen to our assistant coaches. They're going to be coach's voice in another body. We've just got to really focus and try to get these wins.
On second half
We played the score. We saw we were up big and [Fairfield] thought they weren't out of it. They were shooting threes. And it felt like, even when we contested, they wouldn't miss.