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March 11, 2012

Pat Connaughton

Q.  What are your teammates telling you to expect coming into your first NCAA Tournament?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  They haven't really told me that much yet.  They've told me not to really play any different than I've been playing, just kind of as hard as it will be, try to go into it like another game.  I think we were all waiting for today to see where we get matched up, and I think tomorrow and the days to come, my teammates and coach will tell me more about what to expect and what would be prepared for.

Q.  What was it like for you personally, first time as a college player watching that selection show and knowing that certainly your team's name is going to be called and you're going to actually get to play in this thing?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It was amazing actually, the whole setup and everything.  I was kind of surprised because I've never seen it before.  I know it was on ESPN, but I've never once seen it before.  I had no idea what to expect it to be like, what we were supposed to do, like if our name was called if we were supposed to cheer or what was going on, so I tried to go with the flow and follow the older guys.

Q.  What did you do?  How did you follow their example?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  When it was finally called we clapped and stuff, so I clapped after them, made sure I stopped right before they clapped, made sure I didn't clap before they clapped and just kind of smiled and was genuinely excited to get to the game.

Q.  Not to put you on the spot because Jerian just brought it up, but you guys are playing with house money and those of us that followed the team saw the improvement, but can you reevaluate now and say we're happy to be here but it's not house money, we have every reason to believe we can win and start winning some of these games here?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Yeah, we do have every reason to believe.  We went on that nine‑game winning streak in the Big East, which some say was the hardest part of our season, and we dealt with it like we were supposed to do it, we dealt it with a bunch of young kids.  We want to start winning games this year because we're all going to be here next year, we're all going to be here the year after that, but right now is now, and if we can do it this year, then that really gives us the experience.

Q.  I think by this point in the season everybody is kind of evaluating and reevaluating what you guys need to improve on.  What's kind of your focus going into the beginning of the NCAA Tournament where you'd like to improve over the end of the year?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Just taking care of the basketball, ball handling, make sure I don't have any stupid turnovers, things like that to help our team win because I can improve on individual skills in the off season when I have months and months to do it.  I think a matter of it now is just stay focused, take care of the basketball, get it to the guys that are on that day and that need to get it to help our team win.

Q.  A lot of times toward the end of the year people say he's not a freshman anymore, he's a sophomore now.  Are you back to being a freshman because these are all new experiences for you?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I mean, yeah, I'm a freshman because I'm a freshman, but in reality it's just‑‑ it's a game of basketball that I'm here to play and the game of basketball that I'm here playing, and these guys, especially the two goofing around in the back, they have helped me really‑‑ they've helped me adapt to all the new experiences like being in the Big East Tournament for the first time, seeing the whole city, looking around.  But then when it's time for game time, to realize it's time for game time, like don't look around at all the fans, don't look around the everything that's happening.  Don't think about things like last year I was watching this on television.
It's the game of basketball and we're here to win.  And I think us three especially as the younger, youngest guys on the team, we're looking to make a statement and start making our statement now so that people are ready for us.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think it's a matter of working inside out.  I mean, obviously we can shoot the ball and we've proven we can shoot the ball, but I think it makes it a lot easier for us if we score more going to the basket in the paint before we start shooting the ball, because you get those first few baskets to drop, you're starting to feel good about yourself, then you're just a lot more confident, where if your first shot is a three, Jerian said he's a three‑point shooter but he never wants to shoot his first shot as a three, and I think that's what all of us need to bring.  Obviously if you're open, shoot it, but we want to start in, get the rhythm in, get the flow of the game going, and then start to work our way out and start to hit dagger threes and all that other stuff.

Q.  What do you do when shots aren't falling to stay confident?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think attack the offensive glass.  Sometime this weekend I was told not to because obviously they want to get out in transition, so obviously having three guys on the backboard isn't the best thing for us.  But I think attack the offensive glass and make more cuts to the basket, not just move around the perimeter, just maybe move around but then cut back‑door or cut in front of a guy, flash the basket, try to get one or two easy baskets that other guys on the team are getting.

Q.  How do you not get frustrated because they're open shots and they look like they're on line but they just seemed like ‑‑
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It's tough not to get frustrated, but my teammates pick me up.  They're like, keep shooting them, keep shooting them.  That's how you get them to fall, and I think it's just a matter of when you shoot them, shoot them with confidence.  Obviously as a freshman, as these new experiences have been coming, it's tough, sometimes you shoot them and you miss the first one, miss the second one and you're like, all right, maybe I shouldn't shoot this one, maybe I should pass it, drive, try to do something else.
But I think in the end you've got to play your game.  You've got to do the things you know how to do and have been doing.

Q.  How do you stay confident when things aren't falling?  What's your trick to get back into a groove?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  I think knowing that there's other ways I can help the team, trying to focus on defense, trying to focus on rebounding.  Rebounding has been one of the things that I've been able to do my entire life, just attacking the ball, jumping, try to fly around, make things disruptive, get a few steals, a few deflections.  Like things that even might not show up in the box score, things like that.  But they're the hustle plays that every team needs in order to win a game, in order to win a game that comes down to the wire.

Q.  Is it easy to kind of switch from shooting threes to now I need to start thinking about deflections?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It's easy to flip the switch that way, offense and defense, but when you're open, it's tough to flip the switch to think, all right, well, this hasn't fallen.  You can't even think about that.  You have to have a short memory.  Just like in baseball you have to pretend you're in the Hall of Fame, so you have to have a short memory if you're not hitting your shots.  You've got to keep shooting them and hoping they fall.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Yeah, he's really helped me.  I think since Abro went down, I think his‑‑ obviously his leadership role skyrocketed.  He had to do a whole lot more that he wasn't expecting to have to do, and he really took on the challenge, and he's obviously‑‑ he would even say he struggled at the end of the year, but in reality we want him to play the way he's been playing now.  He's been the best leader on our team, best leader on the floor, does little things.  The kid is banged up and he's taking charges, he's doing a lot of things that really for a freshman like myself to really see a fifth year senior like that do after he's gone through the same thing Abro went through with the knees and all that other stuff, just a fearless competitor, no matter who he has to take on, whether it's Alex Oriakhi or whatever, who might outweigh him by 20, 30 pounds, he's going to do that because he knows by example we're going to follow him.

Q.  Scott said he's not a yeller, a screamer.  Was there a moment sort of at the midpoint of the season where he started yelling all of a sudden?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Well, he's done a very good job.  He doesn't yell at you.  He yells like constructive criticism to you.  He yells things that you have to‑‑ he's not yelling things you do bad, he's yelling things you have to do better.  And I think him using that, you do this when you're not supposed to do that has really helped us young guys ‑‑ has given us confidence because no one wants to be yelled at.  No one wants to be told what they're doing wrong especially if they know what they're doing wrong.  He yells in order to help you, and then he seriously speaks, he doesn't yell at you, if he wants to criticize something you've done.

Q.  In the one‑and‑done format in New York, with how the focus has to be, the expectations, the pressure (inaudible)?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Yeah, I think we've learned that we have to be fearless.  Obviously in the Louisville game we were winning, and then we kind of lost control, but we showed a little bit of our young side.  I think going into the NCAA Tournament we have to learn‑‑ we have to do exactly what we did at the beginning of the year.  At the beginning of the year we showed our young side and then we ended up coming out into the Big East and knowing that we have to show some even to make it to the NCAA Tournament, and we did that with our backs up against the wall.  I think now it's even more so coming into the NCAA Tournament where one‑and‑done you're going home, season is over, see you next year.  With our backs up against the wall, we're just going to have to fight like we're playing with house money, I guess.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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