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March 12, 2016

Kevin Ollie

Shonn Miller

Jalen Adams

Daniel Hamilton

Orlando, Florida

UConn - 77, Temple - 62

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

KEVIN OLLIE: First just want to thank God for this opportunity to come up and coach for this great university and to coach these great young men. They came out and played with resiliency. They were tough and played with heart, and it was pretty much a great game from our standpoint. We shot almost 62 percent -- almost 52 percent and held them to about 36 percent.

So it was a well-played game by our guys. They were focused and determined to get to this championship game. We wouldn't have it any other way. To go through Cincinnati, a team that we lost twice to, and also a great Temple team that we lost twice to. So, we really want to savor this, but then go back to the hotel, get off our feet, relax a little bit, and get ready for the winner out of Memphis and Tulane.

I also want to thank our great band and cheerleaders and all our great fans for coming out and supporting us the way they did. We can feel their energy and I think our guys fed off that, especially after playing four overtime games. They can feel our fans, and we want our fans to pack Amway Center tomorrow.


Q. Daniel, you guys obviously had that four-overtime game. A lot of people were talking that you might be exhausted. You come out had 19 points, 11 rebounds. Where you just feeling the momentum coming off of yesterday and confidence coming off of that game yesterday?
DANIEL HAMILTON: Yeah, we were definitely feeling confident. After a win like that, with the shot that Jalen made, it's real like a confidence booster. So we wanted to come out here and build off that game and then come out with more intensity, like we did, and just continue to keep building from that, especially going into the tournament.

Q. Daniel, obviously it's a team game, but usually around March Madness, we start to see people rise and their game starts to step up. And for you, your in-between game's been working, your length to separate and get shots has been working. What is it that you're starting to see in defenses that is allowing you to really take advantage of what you're seeing out there?
DANIEL HAMILTON: I've been struggling all season pretty much, and I've been up and down. So with my family sending me good scriptures like, let your light shine before man, that they may see your good works and glorify Our Father which is in heaven. I want to glorify God, and I think he's big contributor to how I'm playing. And I want to continue building off that and get the shots that I like on the court.

Q. Daniel, it's been an inconsistent shooting year for you. The last two games you've really been bringing it. Anything different going on?
DANIEL HAMILTON: Nothing different. I'm just -- I was getting the shots I wanted all year, I just am making them now. The in-between game, Coach told me don't settle for so many threes, so I want to get in between. And once I get that, if the three's open, I'll take it. But I just want to get in the lane, shoot my floaters, and shoot my one or two dribble pull-ups.

Q. Shonn, what was the difference this time going up against Temple because you guys did lose the first two times this year?
SHONN MILLER: I think we stayed more mentally tough, got stops when we needed to, got scores when we needed to. We stayed together. Came out with a lot of energy and got the win.

Q. Daniel and Shonn, 16-point lead, they cut it down to six, but you guys kind of steeled yourselves and closed it out this time. What was kind of the mood at that point, what was the feeling of the team as you're in that situation this time?
DANIEL HAMILTON: We just didn't want to give up any second chance points. We gave up a couple of them during that stretch when they made that run. But we know how it felt when we went down there in Temple, and they came back and won that game. So we just didn't want to have that same feeling.

SHONN MILLER: Yeah, we kind of had the game down at Temple, and then we had a mental lapse and let it get away. And we didn't want that to happen again.

Q. Daniel, it looked as if you and Quenton DeCosey had been jawing a little bit earlier in the game. What was the nature of that and did any of that spur you to have the kind of performance that you did?
DANIEL HAMILTON: No, not really. He's a real good player, and the last two games he did really good versus us. So I think he had blocked my shot and said something. So I didn't really want to say nothing, I just want to let my game speak for itself.

Q. What made y'all want to go to UConn and play under Coach Kevin Ollie? What made you make the decision to play under a great coach?
SHONN MILLER: Well, me being a fifth-year transfer, and he contacted me right when our season was over, and I got a great vibe off the bat. And then coming and taking a visit and being around the guys, I felt like we could do something special. So that's why I came here, and I feel like we're starting to do that.

DANIEL HAMILTON: Me and coach, we're from the same place, Crenshaw, so it was pretty easy for me to come to UConn because I had trust in him from the beginning.

Q. Daniel, you were defending Quenton for most of the game and he struggled from the field 4-17. What were you able to do so well against him today?
DANIEL HAMILTON: I think my intensity was just there from last game. Our intensity was just there, and I just didn't want to get no easy looks like he's got the last two games. And I just wanted to make sure we defended him real well. It wasn't just me. It was my teammates as well. If I got beat or something, they would be there for help. We just wanted to contain him and have him take contested twos.

Q. For both players, what would it mean for you guys and for the team to win the conference tournament tomorrow?
SHONN MILLER: It would mean a lot for me. I haven't had a chance to play in a championship game. So, I'm beyond excited to play in it. I'm just happy to be here and I just want to win tomorrow. So I'll make sure I go back, and we'll all be ready and get rested for tomorrow.

Q. Daniel, after two strong games like you had, do you think this is a confidence boost going forward, not just yourself but for the team as well, and do you think it's something you can take forward as you guys look to possible get into the tournament?
DANIEL HAMILTON: Yeah, definitely. Confidence booster, especially with the game yesterday, going into overtime, just having to make plays. I came out here today and did the same thing. My teammates found me and I think going forward, we'll be able to be doing the same thing like we been doing the past two days.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. Take questions for coach.

Q. What was the difference offensively the last two days that you were able to get into more of a flow and score more points?
KEVIN OLLIE: I think we're doing a great job moving the basketball and not settling for the contested threes. We did that earlier. I think our ball movement -- I always talk about getting to the third side and the fourth side, and I think we're just reversing the ball and then we're attacking. We've got some great playmakers, and Jalen is really giving us a real punch with our offense being able it get in the lane. He got eight assists today and then one turnover. So, he's playing a great floor game. Then we spread some shooters out, and then Daniel's becoming that go-to person that we need. When we need a bucket, we can get him to get his shots and get in the lane and get to his spot. So, we recognizing that, and I think everybody's playing at a high level. We're sharing the basketball and we're taking UConn shots, which is a great thing.

Q. Daniel Hamilton this weekend - what have you liked most about him basketball-wise, and what have you liked about him mentally and psychologically?
KEVIN OLLIE: Calm, calm, calm. Understanding exactly what he needs to do on the defensive end, offensive end. Daniel, he sometimes goes through those valleys sometimes, where he loses a little sight of his man or have a little lapse. I just think he's been mentally strong and focused and determined to get the job done, and it's starting with his defense. I think he's doing a great job defensively on our assignments and then just getting them in the cage a little bit where he can come off a little couple screens, get into his areas. He's really stepping up, and this is what I always talk about. I always say this, coaching is very, very overrated. Players make plays this time of year. You can draw up something, but they got to go make the plays, and Daniel is doing a great job of that. Amida is coming in and playing some great basketball, staying out of foul trouble. Everybody's feeding off each other.

What I wrote on the board today was, like, just the thing that if you are not -- you can't be worried about yourself if you're worrying about your teammates on the left and right of you. I think that everybody's playing for each other, and I think that's a great thing. Our team is really feeding off of that energy.

Q. You mentioned earlier the history you guys have had this year with your games against Temple and Cincinnati. In light of that, where do you stand on how the selection committee should view The American in terms of at large bids or any sort of NCAA Tournament berths over the next 24 hours?
KEVIN OLLIE: Man, I just think we got a great group of teams. We deserve a lot of at large bids and, of course, somebody is going to take a bid with the championship game here tomorrow. So I just love Cincinnati, their toughness. You can go down the list, Temple, playing great basketball. They won our regular season and Fran has done a great job. Tulsa, they beat us down there. We just got, from top to bottom -- and even the teams that are at the bottom are playing good basketball.

So, we're going to have a fantastic league, Mike Aresco is doing a great job. Him and his staff are promoting our great conference and we love The American. And I think everybody in America should love The American, too.

Q. The team shot -- Temple shot 28 percent in the first half. What were you telling your guys in the pregame when it came to defensive intensity?
KEVIN OLLIE: Just making them take tough twos. What really helped us, they took 20 threes and just made four. Throughout the conference play, they have been taking and making nine threes a game. That leads our conference. So we wanted to limit the second chance points. I think we kept them in the game by Bond getting four offensive rebounds in the first half. But just limiting them off the three-point line because they really get hot. Coleman comes in and gets hot. Everybody remembers our game at Temple. We had a 12-point lead with four minutes to go, five minutes to go. They hit three threes in a row. So we wanted to be very cautious of that. Run them off the three-point line, make them take contested twos. And when Bond got the basketball, we didn't want to convert so much. He's an excellent passer and he find those guys at the three-point line.

So I thought we did an excellent job. And Rodney don't get all the credit, but I thought Rodney did a great job on DeCosey starting the game out, and then Daniel kind of cleaned it up at the end. But Rodney really set that tone with the intensity, moving his feet and playing great basketball on the defensive end.

Q. What makes UConn so good in the month of March? Because we have seen this since Calhoun was here, you guys dominate the month of March?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, like I said, it starts with Coach Calhoun and ends with Coach Calhoun. He's just a great man, he instilled the values into us, and he always told us to play our best basketball in March. It's up and downs, but throughout the season he makes us tougher. He's always done that. He's breathed that into me, and I just want to be playing our best basketball knew now. Like I say, I don't get too discouraged over the bad days. Bad days are days of experience, and good days bring happiness. So I don't really get down. It's -- momentarily I get down, but I'm always positive, because I know these days are going to build us if we just stay together. And I think everybody is witnessing that. But we still got one more game left. We have been in the championship in the last three years here, and hopefully third time is the charm like everybody says.

Q. At the beginning of the season, I asked you a little bit about Larry Brown and kind of the connection that he had with his players and you talked about how down the stretch you want that same type of connection with your players. After a game like Temple, where you have to heavily rely on them making plays and overcoming adversity, do you believe that they can continue that and how comfortable do you feel with them now?
KEVIN OLLIE: It's a process to build trust with your team. So, I mean, I thought we had a great connection going into summer. And, of course, we had two fifth-year seniors that came in and probably didn't want to step on anybody's toes, so they were cautious to lead a little bit. So we had that. Rodney was coming in, he's a transfer. So we had some dynamics that we had to continue to work through. But I thought our guys did a great job staying together through those -- I told you those valley times is when you need to still praise and still stay connected. We learned in those valleys, and a lot of people don't learn in valleys. They give up and they give in. But when we're in the valley, we learn from each other. This team never separated. They stayed together, they laughed together, and they cried together, and they play hard together. Everybody's seen this.

One thing we did the whole season, we played defense. Our offense has been sporadic a little bit. Daniel's been up and down, Rodney has been up and down a little bit. Amida has been hurt for 11 games. So our defense always stayed pat and that's what we hang our hats on.

Q. Could you describe a little bit the defensive game plan against Enechionyia. He's been a very difficult matchup for most people in this league.
KEVIN OLLIE: We read everything with him, and when we say read, that means we're going to switch. We pretty much switched one through four, and then late in the game when Shonn Miller was at the five, we switched one through five. I think he gets a lot off his pick and pop, so we wanted to eliminate that. He's done a great job this whole season finding his spots, but we wanted to make everything difficult. I took Shonn out of the game real, real early because he got two open looks without putting the ball on the floor, and we always want him to put it on the floor and drive. But he's an excellent player. Our coach of the year in this conference, Fran Dunphy, I got so many respect for him, the job he did with that team. They had different guys step up every night and he always had those guys fighting. So, it's a great win for University of Connecticut. We're going to soak this one up and then we're going to be ready for the winner of Memphis and Tulane.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

KEVIN OLLIE: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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