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March 17, 2016

Kevin Ollie

Daniel Hamilton

Rodney Purvis

Des Moines, Iowa


KEVIN OLLIE: First, giving it up to good giving me another opportunity to coach these fine student-athletes and coach at the greatest university in the country.

We just want to thank him and thank these players. They really played hard. I don't know if they got their wake-up call in the first half. I think they was still back at the hotel, but I think the bus came and picked 'em up and we started playing in the second half.

So very proud of them. They stuck with it. Rod was huge playing defense on King and stepping up and making big shots. Daniel was his usual self playing aggressively, getting 10 rebounds and playing effectively. And the thing I'm concerned about is we gotta stay out of foul trouble. Our bigs gotta stay out of foul trouble when we start playing aggressive and playing for each other in the game. The game turned around in the second half.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student-athletes?

Q. Daniel, 30% shooting in the first half for you guys. What was the mood in the locker room halftime and what did Kevin say to you guys?
DANIEL HAMILTON: I just want to thank God as well and we got off to a slow start, you know, like the same thing we did against Cincinnati, but Coach gave us a motivational speech in the locker room in the second half and we came out to a better start. I was getting in the middle of the lane, but I just wasn't converting. But my teammates was really helping me out out there and second half we really picked it up.

Q. You said he gave you guys a motivational speech at halftime. What was the speech? What did he say?
DANIEL HAMILTON: He just told us to, you know, Scott had about 13 points at halftime, so he was getting too many easy catches and once he was getting easy catches. He was comparting on them and they had nine points off second chance in the first half, so we just had to come out and stop that, stop 'em from getting offensive rebounds and that's what we did in the second half.

Q. What did Coach say to motivate you guys at halftime?
RODNEY PURVIS: Piggybacking off what Daniel said, of course Coach is going to speak up at halftime. He's our head captain, but I think it was a lot of motivation coming from among ourselves, a lot of guys. Sterling was the main guy saying we've been in this situation before. We don't like playing from coming down. But I mean, sometimes it's just how it is, you know, and in the second half we was able to come out with a lot of energy and I think getting defensive stops is what got us back in the game.

Q. Rodney, about 11 minutes to go in the game you guys had back-to-back turnovers, quick scores. You scored, then Jalen got a turnover pass to Daniel. Seemed like the game turned on a dime at that point. Did you guys feel then at that point you had control?
DANIEL HAMILTON: Definitely, we pride ourselves on our defense and anytime we're not playing defense it shows in the game and once we're playing defense it has a huge impact on our offense. We're able to score easier because we're a great team in transition and once ear able to get stops and get out in transition I feel like we're one of the best teams in America.

Q. Rodney, looked like with at about 7:45 to go you hit that nice three, things were rolling and you tapped Coach Ollie on the way by. What was that about?
RODNEY PURVIS: I'm not too sure, you know, I think he was saying bad shot, and I was like, I got you, and that was on the defensive end! I credit my teammates for finding me and getting me in spots where I'm able to make shots.

Q. Rodney, after that shot, did it feel like things were a little bit more relaxed? Was there more confidence down the stretch?
RODNEY PURVIS: Definitely. Anytime the ball is going in the hole you're much more relaxed, and like I said, I feel like our defensive intensity had a lot to do with our offense. Once we were down in the stands getting deflections and steals it makes our offense easier and guys get going that way.

Q. For either guy, do you feel like then the first half struggles, looking back, was it more of an intensity issue or more of an execution issue? Which one blended into the other more?
DANIEL HAMILTON: I say it was the intensity issue. First half we got out to a slow start and it's been kinda like that all season. We just gotta make sure we can't get out to no more slow starts going forward and once we do that we'll be all right.

RODNEY PURVIS: Same. I think it had a lot to do with both. We wasn't really making shots on the offensive end, so that always makes it tougher when we gotta go back down and grind it out on the defensive end. We gotta create for each other better and just get easier shots and that comes with us playing good defense.

Q. Daniel, what changed reboundingwise in the second half? You guys did a much better job.
DANIEL HAMILTON: I think we boxed out. We hit more and boxed out and came up with the rebound and once we came up with the rebound we started fast breaking and getting transition easy layups. And that was the main thing. We gotta hit better going on and not give up to many second chance opportunities.

Q. If you can trust what you do behind the scenes to work on free throws obviously that was a big part of the 24 team run and so far it's a big thing, 22 or 23 today.
KEVIN OLLIE: Don't give out our secrets.

RODNEY PURVIS: We shoot a lot of them, that's something we put a lot of emphasis on, free throws is a very important thing down the stretch of a basketball game as you can see today. Sterling stepped up and hit some huge free throws, and like you said the 2014 run was huge. And we just try to relax at the free throw line and make the free throws.

DANIEL HAMILTON: Yeah, it's the same thing, like he said, I think it's a confidence thing, I think when you step up you just make free throws. When you are down too many you step up and hit some and you get some confidence. It's a confidence thing.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, congratulations. We will take questions for Coach.

Q. Kevin, if I could jump on the free throw question, these games are wild ups and downs, but through this your team back through '14 and all season have been so solid and consistent free throw-wise. In their minds, can they latch on consistency in the midst of all that mayhem? How does the free throw psychology work?
KEVIN OLLIE: We shoot a lot of them in practice. We go hard, I blow the whistle, make 'em run to the free throw line, and we do that throughout practice and it gets us, all right, we hectic, hectic and I below the whistle and they run to the free throw line.

So in the midst of that practice or running and sprints, you have to really calm yourself down, you've got to take the tension out and we really teach about routine, you know. It's not about making or missing the shot. It's about falling in love with your routine and you kinda just lose sight of the crowd. You lose sight of the crowd and that defeating voice talking to you, you might miss it. And we fall in love with your routine and whatever routine you have. We want them to take that routine each and every shot and I think guys are really understanding that.

I'm very proud of Rod. Rod has been stepping up and shooting great free throws now. I used to have to take him out of the game late in the game and now I don't have to do that. So everybody has bought into that and of course it's the right people shooting them, too. And I thought we had the right guys shooting them especially Sterling at the end of the game where he made six crucial once and Rod stepped up and made 2. In that last-minute span we made 8 for 8 and it kept the momentum in our favor.

Q. You mentioned earlier the importance of staying out of foul trouble and I wonder are NCAA Tournament games called tighter or is there any adjustment?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, it's definitely called tighter. Couple of fouls that I thought was questionable but that's how they call 'em. I imagine Tad said the same thing, but that's how they call 'em. And we have to adjust to the referees. The referees have to adjust to us. But we do want to play solid defense. We just don't want to let our man to go by us if you think the ref is calling a quick whistle.

But you have to move your feet better. You have to box out and then we gotta be in help defense earlier. So we're not getting beat and not recovering late. That's the thing. It's going to be tight next round, but we want to be the aggressor. I thought both teams got into the penalty very, very early and that's to our favor because we shoot free throws very well. So we want to get the penalty and force the refs to continue to make that call with our aggressiveness.

Q. Rodney said that Sterling was in the locker room at halftime encouraging guys. Did you sense that within the team that the morale was still high despite being down 9?
KEVIN OLLIE: Yeah, we've been through so much throughout the year. So we don't get down too much. A lot of people on the outside, they get down. We don't get down. We just gonna keep fighting with each other, keep loving each other, and we been through too much through the season. At this moment we just going to continue to learn from it.

We are going to always find a reward in our pain, so whatever we going through we're going to find a reward in it. We're not going to get down. I love Sterling stepping up. He's really finding his voice in our locker room now and it takes a while for a fifth year senior to do that.

I think guys are stepping up and Nnamdi steps up a lot and talks and challenges the guys and that's what we want in our program. That's one of our big pillars is challenges and recovering from challenges.

So hopefully we can do that, and I don't like going into the locker room down by 9. But I know how tough this team is and they don't make excuses. So we came out second half and started playing UConn basketball and started getting stops and getting fast break points and started playing together.

Q. Was there anything in particular you did except to urge them on that changed the defense? I think they only had -- Colorado only had 17 points in the first 17 minutes of the half.
KEVIN OLLIE: It was huge. We went on the a 24-6 run, after the 16th minute of the second half, and those next 8 minutes was just probably the best basketball we've played, you know, being in pressure, being solid, rebounding the basketball, running and converting and mixing that up with our three-point shooting.

I thought a real big key -- they are a great three-point-shooting* team, and they had 8 on the season and conventionally they got 2. So we eliminated the shot that really helped us get out on a fast break and run. Scott is a terrific player. I tell my guys all the time you have to fight. But he's huge down there. He gets to the free throw line. He's crafty. We didn't want any other players to get off. We didn't want King to get his 15. We didn't want Collier to get his 7 or 8.

We don't want Scott to get that many points, but we don't want the other players to get off. So we tried to do a good job on them, and then my guys just stepped up. They put a demand on their potential, you know, every minute of every possession, and we tried to win every minute of every possession. I really just thought they did a real good job keeping their composure, being poised throughout the whole game.

Q. Your guys extended the defense a lot better in the second half, like when you were talking about limiting their three-point chances, sure, but it almost seemed like extending the defense out really limited their chances to get the ball inside to Scott in the second half after he hurt you in the first 20 minutes. Was it just an issue of telling them to pursue the Colorado guards further? How did the execution of the defense improve after halftime?
KEVIN OLLIE: We started making shots. It's kinda hard to extend your defense if you're not making shots. So we started getting to the free throw line. We was able to get in our press a little bit more and when you make shots you extend the defense and I just think that was the chance. When you're not making shots it's kinda hard to extend and we value our defense. We pressure the ball a lot if you seen any of our games and we try to create some turnovers. And we have Amida in the back blocking shots. That is the part of our defense that took a while for it to kick in, but sooner or later we're going to get you with your pressure.

We want to be consistent. We don't want it to take 24 minutes to start, but I'm glad it showed up. Guys get a lot of credit for staying with it because a lot of people when they are not making shots they won't play defense. Our team pride itself on defense, making shots and missing shots, and I thought they started executing defensive pressure which we demand from them in practice and in games.

Q. Shonn has been in foul trouble over the past couple of games. What do you say to him or what do you do to keep him in the game? Can you do anything?
KEVIN OLLIE: I can't do anything. I'm not playing. We told him a lot of times not to get the ticky-tack fouls, and we're just going to continue to coach him. That's the bottom line. I can only coach him. I would love for him to stay in the game because it gives us balance when we can go down low and play off of him a little bit and slow the game down and we are not just penetrating off our goal. He's got to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble.

I really don't have no answer for you. We've told him, if you're going to get a foul make sure it's an aggressive foul and you gotta understand how the refs are calling it. You can't swipe down, can't go for steals. You've got to play solid and fundamentally sound and you've got to do you are your work early. We just going to continue to coach him and hopefully he understands that and we definitely going to need him in the next round and going farther in this tournament.

Q. Speaking of the next round, I know the next game is still going on. But given that a 16 has never beaten a 1, I want to get your impressions of Kansas and the possibility of playing a No. 1 seed in the region?
KEVIN OLLIE: Great team. They start inside out. They are going to establish Perry Ellis inside and they're great in transition. They got some shooters around them. So it's kind of like prepping for Colorado, Kansas is the No. 1 seed. But they got somebody down low and then they got a lot of three-point shooters around.

So we have to do a great job on Seldon and get back and play transition defense and box out. They're a great rebounding team. We're going to do a lot of those things and on Friday we'll do more scouting of those guys. But they're a great team. I think we're well able, too, and if they do win it's a 1, you know, kinda playing in their backyard. But we've been in these brawls before and we'll be ready to fight.

Q. You haven't lost an NCAA Tournament game ever. What's that feeling like to be 7 for 7 right now?
KEVIN OLLIE: It's a great feeling. But like I said, coaching is overrated. I have great student-athletes that allow me to coach 'em. I coach 'em very hard, but I love 'em at the same time and I want to be a relational coach. I want to have a great relationship with my guys, so I can push them and demand everything I possibly can out of 'em.

They've done a beautiful job. People said we were going to be tired through the AAC Tournament and they showed up again. They keep working and working and behind the scenes I got great people around them, you know. Travis Illian and James Doran and all our great people and our great staff. So it's just not me, you know. We kinda do it as a community around our student-athletes, but the most important thing is our student-athletes really bonding to the resources and being resourceful, and, you know, I give them all the credit. I can't be 7-0 if it wasn't for our players. Like I told you, I got the greatest coaching staff in America, in America! They hold me up when I'm down. They pick me up and encourage me. So I just think we do it as a group. That's what we have always done. That's what I learned from Coach Calhoun and only thing I'm doing is grabbing the baton and trying to run as fast as I can with it.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach?

KEVIN OLLIE: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

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