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March 16, 2016

Kevin Ollie

Des Moines, Iowa

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome the UConn head Coach, Kevin Ollie.

KEVIN OLLIE: Thank you, it's great to be in Iowa and great to be back at the NCAA Tournament. We took a hiatus last year and it's great to be back and our players are focused and looking forward to a great tournament.

Q. Kevin, what have you seen studied on Colorado and can you size them up a little bit?
KEVIN OLLIE: They are just great team. He does a great job getting those guys in the offensive and defensive package and they start with Scott down low, but he's a perimeter player. He's a down low player. He's versatile, so we are going to have to do a great job guarding him and it's just not our business to understand his tendencies. And then they got great three-point the shoot shooting.

Collier is doing a great job running the team, and they shot 35% from the three-point all season. And King is an absolutely wonderful player, just the way he bounced back and got better. I think his freshman year he was averaging 1 point and had to do a red shirt season and he came back and worked on his game and now he's averaging, being like, 13. So it's going to be a test.

We have to get back in transition first, we're going to have to defend for the full 30 and then we're going to have to rebound and that's the one thing they do great. They average almost 8 plus on the backboard a game, so we're going to have the backs out with all 5, commit to hit and auto get this basketball and run and do what UConn do, get out on the break.

Q. Kevin, what's the vibe that you get with your team right now coming off the weekend it had in entering this tournament and how similar is it from what you experienced two years ago with the team that you had to won a National Championship.
KEVIN OLLIE: It's a great vibe, of course we didn't win the AAC Tournament. We lost to Louisville. We had a tough game at SMU three weeks ago where we lost by 26, and 2014 we lost 33 to Louisville and I think it woke up the team. They understand that building a team it's going to take each other playing their different roles and I think we're playing our best basketball now.

You can go back through the history of UConn teams this is where we peak at and this team is no different. I'm not saying that's going to guarantee a National Championship but our team is playing their best basketball now because they're understanding their roles and understanding how to play hard and they're understanding what the game demands of them each and every day.

We saturate their heart with that from the preseason and it takes time for a team to gel like that, it takes time for a player to understand what's best for the group might not be what's best for me. You know, it takes a time for young kids to realize that and I think near realizing it now what's best for the group is probably best for UConn is going to give us an opportunity to win a lot of games.

Q. Coach, obviously you have a lot of transfers on your team. What's the challenge of molding and putting together a team that way and how were you able to get this group to mesh obviously at the right time this season?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, it's a lot of work from the coaching staff, from their peers, understanding what we want to do as a program, and like you said, it takes them a while to get their voice in the locker room. They don't want to come in saying and being the leader, you know, all the time, but, you know, Sterling and also Shonn Miller came in and played some productive basketball for us, also.

So they have been able to get their voice in the locker room. We had Sterling be our point guard the whole season and his consistency, not only on the basketball court but in practice has been remarkable. And Shonn has been one of our most consistent players, too, on the offensive and defensive end.

So those guys have worked themselves in beautifully and Rodney is a transfer from N.C. State, never been on a run with us, was there for 2014, but was sitting out for his transfer year, so just getting them back in the fold and getting back to this Tournament is a wonderful, wonderful thing for them.

It was one of our goals. It was something we expected. So when you exported something, your behavior shall follow and I think everybody's behavior has been following that because we expect to do great things.

Q. Kevin, you're focused on your team, but is it nice to see Pikiell here and for him to break through and get Stony Brook here?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, it was beautiful, watching that game with Buffalo, I'm going crazy in the hotel room. I couldn't watch the game live, and Rodney was there to watch it and Coach Calhoun was there to watch it and Steve has been so close and to see him break through was a wonderful thing.

I think we all cheer each other on, you know, because we all know what we've been through, through Coach Calhoun practices, so all of us got an understanding of brotherhood through those practices.

I was so happy for him. His team is playing unbelievably hard and, you know, they're doing a great job. And I know Steve is going to get those guys ready to play Stony Brook basketball. It was just great to see all the guys that made the tournament.

Q. Coach, what is Sterling's leadership in terms of just if a senior standpoint meant for especially like Jalen going through the season as he acclimated to the team?
KEVIN OLLIE: Sterling is a quiet leader. He's a man of few words. I've been trying to get him to talk all year and I finally got him to talk a little bit.

What he does do he leads with his actions. He hasn't sat out one practice, not one and we practice really hard and he hasn't sat out one. I want to give him days off. He don't take 'em. He is probably played the most mount our team. He is a quiet leader, shows his leadership through actions and he had done a great job mentoring Jalen. Sterling is Jalen's mentor and Amida is Steve's mentor. Those guys are doing that. And we want them to relish in those roles.

That it's a big pillar in our program of mentorship and being accountable and I thought these guys were being accountable each and every year. It took Jalen a while to come along because I don't know if he was, you know, ready for the intensity that it takes each and every day, you know, guys coming out, playing unbelievably hard against him because he was the ranked player coming in. He was voted preseason, you know, best freshman in our conference and he didn't even make the first team. He didn't even make, you know, the All-Rookie team.

So I think that woke him up and he wanted to show people in Orlando that he is a great player and he's going to be a great player in the AAC. So I think the coaches did something to help us out a little bit when they didn't vote him on that team.

Q. Coach, you mentioned Sterling and his experience as your point guard. Looking over at the CU side, couple young guys they have running that position. What have you seen from them at that point and whether you think that's a match-up that you can have an advantage in?
KEVIN OLLIE: I don't think we have an advantage in any position because we won't worry about where Tad is going to put those guys. But they are solid. They come off the bench with great guards. They run the offense and we know we've got to get them off the bounce, every guard they have, we can't allow them to have shootaround jump shoots, where they are just right there feet set, they can spin the ball and shoot. We've gotta put pressure on the pass. We've gotta put pressure on the dibble, and we've got to put pressure on the shot.

We have to make them take contested twos and tough twos. We want to get the speed up a little bit and get out of their offense, but if they're able to run the offense comfortably it's going to be a long night for UConn.

Q. You mentioned the fraternity that you all have, having played for Coach Calhoun. What was it about playing for him that makes all of you such good coaches?
KEVIN OLLIE: Man, he does everything. He's so meticulous about everything, because, you know, when we won the first National Championship in 2011 I was celebrating, I had my ticket to go on vacation and everything and he was like, there is no vacation. On Monday we are coming back and we are going back to work.

He was like, this is the best time we do our work when everybody else is on vacation we workin'. I always kept that motto in mind. I want to outwork, ou twill, coaches taught us that there are two things that you can always have is effort and attitude, them are two things that you can control.

As coaches that's the same thing I want to deliver to my team. At the end of the day we want to punch, we want to fight. You know, I just never met anybody that's tougher than Coach, in my life, never met 'em. So he breathes that toughness in us and he we try to breathe that toughness into our players, and I think that is the one thing he gives us, you know, is that toughness that, you know, you're never counted out because you put so much work into what you want to accomplish and that's your craft to be the best coach you can possibly be. Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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