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Tulsa 61, UConn 59 Postgame Quotes

Dec. 31, 2016

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TULSA HEAD COACH FRANK HAITH

Opening Statement...
“Conference play. We had an intense ball game and I thought our guys played with great energy throughout the game. These two guys [Sterling Taplin and Pat Birt] were outstanding. I thought that Sterling had a tremendous floor game. I thought Martins Igbanu gave us a huge lift, particularly in the first half, but there in the second half he was just physical. You need to be against a team like UConn with their length and I am really proud of how we competed and how we gave ourselves a chance to win. We had great resolve, even when we got down five there late in the game. I was really proud of how we stuck together and finished out the game.”

On more resolve and fight from the team…
“Since we got back from Hawaii, we have talked about that with our team in terms of our identity and what Tulsa basketball has been. We had to get back, in terms of our practices, to help them understand the toughness thing. I thought we had great fight today, but that is who we are. You know, we haven’t had that competitive spirit and we have been in games where I think we have gotten shaken and then all of a sudden we lose it. I thought we had great resolve today. They threw some blows, we staggered a little bit, and then we came right back. We give our guys credit for bowing their backs. You know, UConn wasn’t going to go away, and having Jalen [Adams] back today, I knew that was going to give them a big boost. He is a terrific player, one of the best guards in our league, and he was a load. But you talk about them blocking 10 shots, and I kept telling our guys, obviously you cannot lay it on the platter for Brimah, but we had to still be aggressive. We still got 28 points in the paint, and that is who we are. We have to play inside out, we have to keep attacking, and we need to be smarter with our drives. When they rotate we need to pass it out, and we got some good looks. The big play of the game was when we drove it in there, they rotated, and we hit Pat for a wide-open three. Playing together – there is a lot of usefulness, a lot of newness with this team – so getting that consistency and that cohesiveness, it takes time. I thought we took a huge step in that direction today and that inevitably cut our turnovers down.”

On three point numbers and taking shots too quickly…
“We took some quick ones in early offense. I think we need to just know that we can still get that shot late, sometimes. We also took some contested threes, and I don’t think that we should ever have to take contested threes. I think we have enough good shooters and good movement that we will get threes in rhythm. Those are the threes that we need to eliminate. But this is a good shooting team, so I don’t want us putting our gun away. I also want our guys to understand timing situations, though, and that is what we need to get better at.”

On Pat Birt’s scoring (Do you need him to be a 15-point guy consistently?)…
“Yeah, I think so. I think Pat, Junior and Jaleel should be our three leading scorers. I think that if we get consistency out of them, with those three guys, it will definitely bode well for our team.”

On Pat Birt being cold in the first half…
“You are hoping he could explode any time, and Pat has gotten his game better. I think, as a player, when your shot is not falling then you need to score other ways – get to the line, maybe drive, just see the ball go through the net first. We have talked to Pat about not making his first shot so difficult. Here is the deal, in every game, Pat is going to be at the top of everybody’s scouting report for us and defense is going to be on him. Well that is when defense is at its very best, the beginning of games, so let the game come to you and don’t force things and get yourself in such a rut. I think he has done that some this year because he is trying to get off to a great start every game, but some of those shots are contested. I think Pat has worked hard on his game to be a better driver, a better play maker, so he can do other things that are more than just shooting threes.”

SOPHOMORE GUARD STERLING TAPLIN

On playing against UConn’s size inside…
“Just keep attacking. Our offense is best when we are playing inside out and we are attacking, so that was the key thing. Make sure we keep attacking.”

SENIOR GUARD PAT BIRT

On the confidence after the first shot falls…
“It’s just all about the next shot and the next play. You can’t dwell on the past with a bad shot because it is going to affect your next shot. I know in the first half that my shot wasn’t falling, but in my mind I just say, you have to keep shooting, it will fall. I just played within our offense and thank God it started falling.”

UCONN HEAD COACH Kevin Ollie

Opening Statement…
“It was a tough game. We executed down the stretch, we just didn’t make the shots. It was good looks for us. Rodney had a good look. We have to make more free throws, and try to finish that game. It was a tough loss, but I love that way our guys competed. We just have to get better in those toughness areas at the end of the game. Credit them. They made shots at the end. Birt made a couple three’s at the end. He was 2-of-10, but he made some crucial ones. We have get stops when it’s time to get stops. I thought the point guard Sterling Taplin did a great job getting in the lane in the second half and making plays for himself and also his teammates."

Jalen played really well. Going forward do you think with his presence things will finally turn your way…
“I hope so. It would be hard without Jalen. I’m just glad he came back from his concussion. I played him the whole game. He played 45 minutes. It was gutsy basketball. He had a shot at the end to win the game, and it was a great look. He made a great pass to Rodney in the corner when we needed a shot when were down by 2, but we missed those two threes. He gave us effort. He gave us life. He’s a competitor. I love from him to be with us. He played a terrific game."

Do you like the way Amida Brimah played today…
“Yes. He had six blocks. You can’t have 4 turnovers and zero assists, but I liked the 9 rebounds. Another thing is that he stayed out of foul trouble. He had three, but never got his fourth, where he’d have to be on the bench. He kept some balls alive on the offensive board. I was proud of his effort too.”

“Once again we have to step up and make free throws. I think Amida missed a one-and-one, and I think Kenton (Facey) missed two free throws, then missed a 1-of-1. So that’s 4 points right there, and that’s 6 points that we have to have in games like this. Our margin of error is not that great, so we have to do all those toughness things –– getting to the foul line, having confidence and knocking them down. We just didn’t do it tonight when we needed to.”

Christian’s (Vital) turnover at the end that led to a basket that put them ahead…
“He’s a freshman, but Jalen has to come get the ball. They were denying Jalen. Jalen played 45 minutes and hadn’t played in a week, but you have dig deep and have to come get the ball. CV has to be strong with it. It was a tough situation to put him in, isolated, we were trying to run our basic play. We just can’t give up a live turnover like that. I’d rather him just through the ball out of bounds, then give up a live turnover. Hopefully our guys will learn from it. It’s just a tough situation. Jalen has got to come get that ball.”

“But at the end of the day, we missed free throws. That game should have been over. We missed free throws when we needed them to put us up by five and put it in a two-possession game, but it stayed in a one possession game.”


 

 

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