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March 9, 2017

Murry Bartow

Michael Bibby

Geno Thorpe

Hartford, Connecticut

UConn - 77, USF - 66

MURRY BARTOW: I want to say congratulations to UConn. Kevin does a great job with their team. I thought we defended hard. I thought we rebounded hard. I thought our guys really competed. When you look at the first two games, we lost by 21 at home. We got blown out in Storrs, and tonight the game went right to the wire. We defended hard. We rebounded hard. You know, we made two more baskets than they did, so it really came down to fouling and free throws, and that's where the game was really won. But very proud of my team. Great effort, just really proud of my team.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes, please?

Q. Geno, you hit that three-pointer and it's down to two points, then of course of the foul, and you're out of the game for the final three minutes. Can you talk about what was going through your mind when that whistle blew and did you think that that might have been the key play of the game?
GENO THORPE: Well, during the play, I was trying to be aggressive, trying to get to the basket and penetrate, try to find a teammate or find a shot for myself. The foul was called and I didn't think it was an offensive foul, but it was the ref's decision and that's what it was.

A. Geno, can you talk about this team's effort. Obviously you did not have the season you guys wanted to. You could have mailed it within the first game of this tournament. You were within two of a team that beat you by a lot. Can you talk about the team's effort tonight?

GENO THORPE: I'm really glad about our effort tonight. We come to practice every day, we work hard. We stay after practice and put up shots. Our hard work was paying off. Like Coach said, we rebounded the ball pretty good. We controlled the pace of the game really good. It was unfortunate the way the ending happened, but like Coach said, I'm proud of our guys.

Q. Michael, can we ask the same questions of you, your thoughts on the team's progress through the year and battling back against a team that had a pretty good performance the first two times out.
MICHAEL BIBBY: Can you repeat that?

THE MODERATOR: Sure. Your thoughts on this game today. A one-possession game down to the final minute against a squad that had good success against you the first couple times out?

MICHAEL BIBBY: Like Geno said, I thought we competed to the very end of the game. Coach Bartow, Coach Strick and Coach Serg came up with a great game plan and executed most of the game. They're good players. They are UConn; they're going to score. They came up with a great scheme to try to stop them and slow them down. I mean, it came down to the wire. Like Geno said, I'm very proud of how we fought.

Q. Geno, obviously you guys wanted to win tonight.

Q. You have no seniors on this team. Could you talk about the future and putting this behind you guys and hitting the reset button at this point?
GENO THORPE: We want to continue to work hard. Try to evaluate ourselves, do a self-assessment on ourselves, and see what we can improve on and things we can get better at. So the following year we can come back stronger and better.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes to the locker room and I'll take questions for Coach Bartow.

MURRY BARTOW: You guys done?

THE MODERATOR: Anything else?

Q. Coach, can you address that as well? Obviously, you've made it known that you want this job permanently and want to be considered for it. But can you talk about where you feel this team is right now? Did they make some progress towards the end of the season, and do you feel that the future is going in the right direction?
MURRY BARTOW: I thought we fought through a lot of adversity. You've got to give these players a lot of credit. I thought they had every opportunity over the last four, five, six weeks just to quit. They faced a lot of things, a lot of adversity behind the scenes, and I just give them a lot of credit, a lot of praise. They continue to battle and fight and scrap and compete, practice hard, good attitude. Good energy. You know, I've been part of a few bad teams and a lot of times on a team that's losing, at some point, they'll quit. They'll quit. Or in a single game, they'll quit.

Man, these guys just -- I'm not sure why, but they really, really battled. So, I think we've got a chance to be good in the future. But I'm really proud of these guys. They made what -- we're so much -- we couldn't have played -- the game we just played, we could not have done four, five, six weeks ago. And UConn, again, blew us out by 40, three weeks ago, and we came in here tonight and went toe-to-toe with them and competed hard, and I'm really proud of these guys.

I think we made unbelievable improvement. I think anybody that watched that game, and saw our -- has seen our team really over the last week and a half -- we played Central Florida. We had a shot to beat them at the buzzer, or late in the game, seven seconds to play. About a week ago, we played Temple well and we played pretty well tonight. So in our last three games, it doesn't show on the scoreboard, but we played pretty good basketball. Played pretty good basketball.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach Bartow?

Q. Do you think the pro-UConn crowd kind of fueled the underdog mentality of your team? It wasn't what you considered a neutral court game? Do you think that energy --
MURRY BARTOW: No. I totally agree with that. I think players like to play in front of a good crowd and the crowd did get energized. Obviously it was a very pro UConn crowd. I think it did fuel our guys some and gave them some energy. Again, when you're down, you're losing and losing and losing and down 13 in a half, that can quickly go to 25. And next thing you know it's a one-possession game, they're right there at the very end. So very proud of our guys.

THE MODERATOR: Other questions? Coach, thank you.

MURRY BARTOW: Okay. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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