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July 13, 2021

Pat Connaughton

Milwaukee Bucks

Practice Day

Q. Pat, I think there should be a new hustle stat and it's called defending with your face. That would be themed after you. In all honesty, other than the glued eyelid, have you come close to orbital bone fractures or broken bones? Just this year how many facial injuries have you taken?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, I drank a lot of milk as a kid so maybe I can get on a Got Milk? commercial at some point. I don't know if any of them were close, but I definitely took quite a few. I've got to be careful what I say based off the whistle on some of the facial shots that I took and who got called for the foul and who didn't.

But I think it's just part of the game. It's physical. It's a contact sport. It's something that -- it's fast moving. You don't always see it coming. Maybe my reflexes could be a little better or maybe it wakes me up a little bit and gets me more into the game.

Q. Will you change your style ever? You kind of are an NFL safety playing your position, and most people would be cautious if they saw a 280-pound center coming towards them, but you seem to put it in there at all times. Do you ever see yourself being more conservative or cautious with your play or is that who you are?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: That's who I am. That's part of what I pride myself on, winning plays. I think it's the toughness, it's the grittiness, it's the things that help teams win, help me be a factor and continue to play a role on a championship contending team, and so I enjoy it.

I don't necessarily enjoy getting hit in the face, but I enjoy being a part of it, being in the game, and that just comes with the territory.

Q. You're busy with your own stuff right now, but I was wondering, I didn't know how close you and Trey [Mancini] still were, your former baseball teammate. Did you watch the Home Run Derby or did you even get time to follow that? I didn't know what your relationship was like with him still.

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, Trey and I are still good friends. To see what he's gone through and to see what he's overcome is obviously a tremendous story. I think that might be an understatement.

The Notre Dame network, we all kind of stick together, and him and I were teammates for two years on the baseball squad. To see his success, I'm not surprised by it. I think some people are, but we always knew he was capable of it, and the things that he did in the Cape Cod League and at Notre Dame, and he fought through injuries, and to be where he is now, I'm really happy for him, thrilled for him.

I was able to tune into the Home Run Derby a little bit last night. I thought it was really cool that I was on the team when he won the Home Run Derby at the Big East Tournament down in Clearwater, Florida, and I remember him saying to our assistant coach, Chuck Ristano, if I ever got to the MLB Home Run Derby I'll have you pitch to me, and he pitched to him last night, and I think it kind of showed the connection they have and the family type atmosphere that is breeded at Notre Dame.

Q. There have been some questions today and through the series about the crowd and the support and that sort of thing. I'm wondering, you hear the crowd here in Milwaukee chanting, Bobby, Bobby. Does the crowd actually influence the way certain guys play?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: I'd say the crowd always adds an element of adrenaline. It always adds an element of excitement to the game. I think it definitely plays a factor in the game, that atmosphere.

I think you can see the difference between this year's Playoffs and last year's Playoffs. One had no fans and this one fortunately had almost all the fans, if not all the fans.

I think they definitely play a role. I think it adds an element of excitement, adds an element of I'd say adrenaline -- I don't know what the exact word is for it, but the short answer would be yes.

Q. A couple times, a few times actually in the Playoffs, you've had two-on-ones getting back in transition. I'm kind of curious, when you have guys like Devin Booker and Cam Payne who are really good at getting to the rim and really fast guys coming at you, what's the first thing going through your mind on how to stop it and make sure they don't get an easy one?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: You're just trying to keep them guessing a little bit. Obviously, ironically three-on-two, two-on-one was a drill I did a ton growing up back home in Arlington [Mass.]. It was something that it's a little bit different when it's Devin Booker and Cam Payne coming at you than my buddies back home, but the principles still apply.

You want to stop the ball. You want to make sure the ball is taken care of first, try to make sure they make the extra pass, and then for me personally it's just using my athleticism.

Sometimes for some reason there's a little bit of questionability around my athleticism, but I still have confidence in it myself. So try to use that and make sure that I'm in the right position, and then it's just about jumping, staying vertical, trying to make sure you stay within the rules to try to make them make a tough shot and not bail them out by fouling them or putting the ref in a position to make a call.

And our team does a great job of getting back, so if you're able to force them into a tough shot or miss the first shot, usually we have our cavalry on the way back.

Q. When you signed your contract, it was a pretty good contract, and your comments were that you wanted to be consistent. You knew what you could do, but you wanted to work on your consistency. How would you evaluate that right now?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: I'd say I'm still working on it. I'd say it's gotten better throughout the Playoffs. I'd say throughout the course of the regular season, it was a unique season. There were ups; there were downs. But I learned from it, and I think that's where the difference becomes as you get more consistent is learning from those mistakes, learning from the adversity, learning from the things you do well.

There are still shots that I've taken that have missed everything. That's just part of the game. But you can't let that affect the next shot, and learning that mentality and continuing to have confidence in my game overall, not just as a shooter, not just as a penetrator, not just as a defender, but being a complete basketball player is kind of what I want to be known as.

That was the goal when I signed the contract. That's been the goal to bring to this team on a nightly basis, and I'm still working on it. I think we've improved quite a bit this year and incrementally through the Playoffs.

Q. You're like the last man standing from that awesome 2019 bench, the Bench Mob and all that. You've seen all the roster changes and all that. What do you think you symbolize or how are you emblematic of that original Bench Mob team that came in and there was no difference between the starters and the people who came in? What do you think has helped you stay with that for three years to symbolize that consistency there?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, well, we graduated one to the starting group, Donte, so he's Starter Donte now. He's not a part of the bench mob. But I would say it's what the Bench Mob represented and keeping that alive.

Back in my first year here, the whole goal of the bench mob was to have the certain things that we brought consistently on a nightly basis and then fill in where needed throughout the course of the game to help us win the game and do whatever it took.

That defense, the hustle plays, the energy, that's kind of what I've tried to keep on, and that's what the guys that Jon [Horst] and Bud have brought in have been ready to do. You look at Bobby, he kind of epitomizes what the Bench Mob is. There are nights where he scores a ton but he brings the energy on a nightly basis and that's why the arena loves him and that's why the chants of "Bobby" happen, but that’s what epitomizes what a Bench Mob member is and that's kind of what epitomizes what I want to make sure I always bring to the table and instill in the other guys that are subbing in the game with me.

Q. For your other business, what would it mean to win a title here? You would be remembered and immortalized forever with your real estate business, and P.J. said you guys are coffee friends, so I wondered if you could give me some details of your favorites, if you brew your own.

PAT CONNAUGHTON: Yeah, look, I think winning a championship in Milwaukee, it's not about my other business. It's about bringing the notoriety to a great city. I think it's been an underrated city. It's been obviously your, quote-unquote, "small market" city. But for people across the world to see what it's like in the summer, to see what it's like as a community, to see the togetherness that the Milwaukee Bucks bring to the city of Milwaukee and the support that the city of Milwaukee in turn gives us, which makes us want to play so hard and represent them so well.

It's great to see the growth around the city. It's great to see obviously the building of Fiserv [Forum], it's great to see the businesses come downtown, it's great to see the development that you see across the city, and I'm just fortunate to continue to invest in the city and be a part of that.

And then if Bobby is one of my favorite teammates, Tuck is one of my second favorite teammates. I've got a lot of favorite teammates.

Tuck has been great, and I think playing with him on the floor has been seamless. It's been something that -- it's been great for me, even though I think sometimes we don't play as much together, but we try to keep that same type of tenacity. He's got the same Bench Mob mentality, just he's a starter.

I think in the locker room he's been a great guy. He's been one of the best.

The coffee thing is just one of those things where we -- it's not just coffee, it's food, it's all sorts of things. He's got food places in different cities that he's used to because he's been around longer than me. I've got a few food spots here that I shared with him that he's loved. We share the same favorite type of coffee around the city of Milwaukee called Rocket Fuel, this place Alderaan Coffee. I've shared some breakfast spots with him, breakfast sandwich at Uncle Wolfy's. He brought me a breakfast sandwich from his favorite spot in Phoenix last trip when we were down there for Games 1 and 2.

He's just a great guy. He's a great friend. He's a great teammate. Throughout the course of an NBA season obviously you're in different cities all the time, so to find those spots that you like, the hole-in-the-wall spots, coffee spots, pregame, whatever it might be, we kind of share that love.

Q. Just wondering, Jae Crowder really hurt you guys with Miami in the Playoffs last year, 6-for-7 from three in Game 3. What is it about him that makes him such a tough opponent to deal with?

PAT CONNAUGHTON: He's a great player. I think that's what makes him so tough. He is a tough player. He is a great player. He has got a little bit of that Bench Mob mentality in him, just he's a starter. He does all the little things, and he can shoot. He's a really good player.

He's somebody that we want to make sure we keep an eye on, we have as a big part of the game plan, and we've just got to match his energy, match his toughness. He's going to make shots, and it's just trying to limit the open shots, try to make sure they're a little bit tougher and then match his physicality, match his toughness and even try to exceed it.

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