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March 11, 2016

Kevin Ollie

Daniel Hamilton

Jalen Adams

Orlando, Florida

UConn - 104, Cincinnati - 97 (4OT)

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

KEVIN OLLIE: That's was an unbelievable game. First, I want to really thank God for giving us this opportunity to play. It was just Him and giving us the fight and the Will to keep fighting. And after every timeout, it was just -- in the huddle we were telling our guys to keep fighting and keep throwing punches and that's what they did. A lot of people questioned our heart throughout the season, and you can't question it no more. Them guys stuck together. They played hard. They kept believing no matter what was happening, and every overtime in the game -- there's a lot of people that's written us off, but we still are breathing, we're still ticking, and we're going to come back and fight tomorrow. We're not tired. We're going to come play Temple, and we're going to give them a fight just like we did Cincinnati.


Q. Obviously, first half was a little bit sluggish at first. I saw you really trying to Will the team, Will the bench, and then must have had some magical speech at halftime. Came out and looked like a whole energized bunch.
KEVIN OLLIE: We just stuck together. There's no magical speeches at this time. Players make plays. And they started making plays. We had a good game plan coming in, and our defense stayed packed. They made a couple shots, *Cobb got off early, but we just stayed together, and we kept huddling, and we kept playing together, we kept encouraging each other and that's what it's all about. It's a team victory. And then players stepped up and made plays. Jalen made plays; Daniel made plays. That's what it's all about. I just love these guys. We just willed it. That's what it comes down to when it's one and go home. We lose and we go home.

But the guys just played. We came back, and one thing in our program we always talk about is recovery. And we recovered. That's the great thing about us, we're going to recover, that's what we talk about every day in practice, that's what we talk about every day in film session. These guys did it.

Q. Can you accurately assess how much Jalen grew up today, especially in the latter stages of the final two overtimes?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, he just grew up. He just started playing basketball. He had a bad turnover, and he could have easily went back to the XL Center when he had the other turnover, but he stayed with it. And we believe in him, coaching staff believes in him. And he just willed it. He got to the rack, he got to the basket, made big time shots. That shot -- I don't know. I think it was past half court. I don't think he was over half court. That's legendary stuff to make that shot at that time and just keep performing.

We had to calm ourselves down and play another overtime. That's exactly what they did. But that shot is going to be talked about a long time. And the other thing I want to just talk about is American Conference. Everybody's talking about our conference. That's two NCAA Tournament teams right there, battling, battling. Our conference is a great conference. Everybody should recognize that. Hopefully, they see that. How we battled and how we fought and it's not just this game, it's throughout the whole season.

Q. Do you think you guys did enough to get into the NCAA Tournament today?
KEVIN OLLIE: I don't know. I'm going to go home. I'm going to go prep for Temple, and that's the only thing I'm worrying about. I'm not worrying about the NCAA Tournament. These guys took care of business. Now we go and play Temple, we get to the championship, and then we're in. But I'm not worrying about the NCAA Tournament. We need to take care of tonight, get back and get scout, get these guys off their feet. They played a hell of a game. Hopefully somebody's watching in the committee. Hopefully somebody's watching.

Q. Kevin, you've had two real close games with Temple, your thoughts on you guys and the Owls matching up?
KEVIN OLLIE: I love Temple. Fran Dunphy, congrats on him for winning back-to-back coach of the year. He's a fabulous coach. They have had players step up throughout the year. DeCosey is their leader, of course, but throughout the season, they had a lot of players step up. So we're going to have to play hard, play aggressive. We're going to need everybody on our bench to perform because a lot of guys logged a lot of minutes. So we're going to have to really have our bench really step up tomorrow and we're really going to have to stay out of foul trouble. We're going to have to play very, very solid because they don't beat themselves. They don't turn the ball over. They rebound. So they do great job.

So it's going to be a great game. We battled them both times, and I think it's going to come down to a possession game. It's going to be what team is the solid team, what team is the toughest team come up with a rebound or a big stop when we need it.

Q. Four overtimes and a lot of emotion going up and down. It seemed like every time one team made a bucket, the other team responded quickly with a three or two. How does this build confidence going forward as far as overcoming adversity over and over again?
KEVIN OLLIE: It definitely builds confidence. But if anybody been around me, we always talk about when we're in the dark, we do our best work. It's opportunities where we have to lean on each other. It's opportunities where it didn't look too good for us. It was a real dark hour, but dawn comes after the darkest hour. This year we had some dark hours where we had to really come together as a group. I just really think these guys stuck together, and character comes out in the most important times. And this was important. And this is the character that they built through the up-and-downs, through people writing stuff about them, people saying stuff about them. But they knew what we had in this locker room, and I really appreciate those guys laying it out on the line. And I told them and they'll you, we want to empty our tank. And I think we emptied it, but we're going to go right back to the gas station and fill it right back up after we leave here.

Q. You inserted Rodney was back in the layup along with Phil, why did you do that?
KEVIN OLLIE: We just liked the matchups. We liked the matchups that we had. We wanted Rodney to pressure Caupain to start the game. Then we wanted Phil -- I know they were going to run a lot of pick and rolls, we wanted Phil to really show out. But Amida played starter minutes. It's the guys I trust play at the end. And I was a ball player. I like to start, but that really doesn't matter. I want the coach to really trust me at the end of the game, and Amida came in and made some big shots, and this man right here made some great shots. And Daniel stepped up too. Daniel grew up tonight too. He's been struggling throughout the season, some up-and-downs games, but he always stuck with, always came to practice and played hard. I'm really, really proud of him, too. When we needed a bucket, we were going to him, and he was finding Amida, and he was getting his own shot.

So that's what its going to take at these moments. It's not coaching. Coaching's overrated. It's players making plays at this time and we have had some great players and our tradition and these two players are going to go down in the history of one of the greatest games in UCONN history.

Q. Jalen, can you just walk us through that shot sequence. Obviously they had just hit the bucket, less than a second left and then you did what you did. Just walk us through your mindset before and after.
JALEN ADAMS: I seen them make a three, I was upset about it, but the least I could do was to get a shot up. Daniel passed me the ball, and nobody was in front of me, so I shot the ball as quick as I could and I watched it go in. And that was just amazing.

(Fist bump from coach.)

KEVIN OLLIE: We practice that. You know we practice that.


Q. So Jalen, back in October that first night, I believe it was you that hit the half court shot at the end of the first half. So is that something that you consistently work on, or is that something that it just happens?
JALEN ADAMS: It's something that just happens. Early in the year, me and this kid used to see who could make the most half court shots, so I guess it's paying off.

Q. Daniel, career high for you tonight scoring. What was it like when you got going like that when you were in the zone?
DANIEL HAMILTON: I want to thank God. And when I just got in the zone, I just want to come out and make plays. Like Coach said, I was struggling throughout the whole season, and I just made plays out there at the stretch of the game. Because I know how that feeling was last year of not making the tournament and stuff like that. So, it was real sad. So I just wanted to come out and make plays and win the game, basically.

Q. The great teams usually by this time start taking on their coach's identity fully. In what ways have you taken on Coach Ollie's identity?
JALEN ADAMS: Just a lot of energy. You see him on the bench, he's reacting to everything that goes on. We're just energizing. He never gives up on us. We never give up on each other. We never give up on ourselves. So we have taken that from him. Just keep playing.

DANIEL HAMILTON: I would say the same thing of the -- just energy. Coach has been energized throughout the whole season through the good and the bad. We came out here and made plays. It showed up. Because we had to play four overtime games there, and through adversity we got through, so I would say energy as well.

Q. You talked a little bit about missing a tournament for the second straight year possible, how much did you guys talk about that before this game?
DANIEL HAMILTON: Oh, man, we talked about that huge. Especially me and Rodney Purvis. This past summer, we were talking about how we can't do that again. So we just wanted to come out here and make plays. Me and Purvis would be in the dorm room and talk about how amazing this year is going to be. And then we just came out here and we just made the most of it.

Q. Daniel, I know coach talks about recovering, when you guys let the lead get away the last three minutes of regulation. That takes a certain kind of recovery to be able to kind of snap back and then just hang on a little bit harder. How did you guys do that?
DANIEL HAMILTON: We know what we have been going through this whole season. Everybody in the locker room just believed. Everybody on the court just believed. Everybody on the bench just believed, and it showed out there tonight. Because we could have easily just let them go because we have been losing leads in the past. So we just fought back when they got a lead and then we came out with a win. So, everybody just believed on the team is the main thing.

Q. You guys had trouble breaking down their defense early on. What got you guys into the lane more later in the game?
JALEN ADAMS: I think it started off with Sean and Daniel getting into the middle of the zone, catching and scoring and then also Shonn was getting post ups down low, so that helped for cutters. After that we just started playing, doing a little we have and then we just knew like they weren't going to let us score so we had it attack them the way they were attacking us.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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