home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 18, 2023

Dan Hurley

Adama Sanogo

Jordan Hawkins

Andre Jackson

Tristen Newton

Alex Karaban

Albany, New York, USA

MVP Arena

UConn Huskies

Media Conference

THE MODERATOR: I have a lot of company here. We'll start on the far left with Adama Sanogo, followed by Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban, Andre Jackson Jr., and Jordan Hawkins. We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Adama, coming off this great game. You had that late, long distance shot. I know that's something you've been working on. Got a bunch of threes this year. You're so dominant inside. Why did you decide that was important to add that to your game?

ADAMA SANOGO: Like you said, this is something I work on like since I've been in college, shooting, being able to shoot is something I really want to do. You can be a good player, but if you want to be a great player, you have to be able to do a little bit of everything, so being able to shoot was something in my mind that I wanted to do, yeah.

Q. Adama, what do you have to do in general to be able to replicate your performance from yesterday?

ADAMA SANOGO: I feel like I just need to be a good leader for my team and like just play hard. Every time I try to play hard, like everything going to be fine after that. So my mind going to every game is to be a great player and play really hard and be there for my team.

So that's my mindset going into every game.

Q. For Andre or whoever else wants to answer, now that you've gotten one out of the way, how does the mindset change to keep this thing going?

ANDRE JACKSON JR.: I think it's a similar approach to every game. Like Adama said, play hard and just play together. That's kind of like the approach we take to every game, yeah.

Q. Obviously you don't see Saint Mary's in person at all really, but how familiar are you with them, and what have you seen on film maybe lately, last night or whatever? Have you seen them through the season? What do you know about the program and the team in general?

ALEX KARABAN: We started watching a lot of film on them recently. They come out of an underrated WCC conference, and they're the season champions. We know they're a tough team. They like to play at their pace. They've got two great guards, a great center. They've got a great supporting cast around them.

We're going to be in for a battle. They were close with a majority of their opponents throughout the season. So we can't take them lightly, and we know they're a great team.

Q. Friday, it felt like a home game for you guys with the loud crowd here, especially since you guys are only about an hour and a half away from home. Is there any pressure knowing you'll have that kind of atmosphere behind you again, especially with Saint Mary's traveling close to 3,000 miles for this game?

ANDRE JACKSON JR.: I wouldn't say it's a pressure. It's awesome to have a crowd that's supporting us. We definitely like that. We embrace it. So we're looking forward to the game and looking forward to seeing the fans out there supporting us.

Q. For any of the players, Alex just referred to Saint Mary's like to play at their pace. Would you like to get them out of their pace? And if so, what do you do to try to get them out of their comfort zone playing at the slower pace?

ALEX KARABAN: We definitely want to get them out of their pace. When we play our style, it's very hard to beat us. We're just going to play our style of basketball. We're going to play defense and try to get out there and run, which we've been pretty successful at. If we do that, I think we'll be just fine.

Q. Tristen, with Adama playing the way he played yesterday, as a point guard, how soon are you able to pick up on that and really keep getting him the ball?

TRISTEN NEWTON: Well, if Adama is 0-for-15, which I hope he never does, I'm still going to give him the ball because he's a heck of a player. So I just look for him regardless of how he's playing because you know he works hard in the gym every day, and that's what he does night in and night out, so we're going to give him the ball regardless of how he's playing.

Q. This is a question for Jordan and for Andre: After your game, Rick Pitino described Connecticut as a team that has everything that's required to win a National Championship, and then he went right down the list from talent to depth to coaching to intensity. We've heard a lot of people taking a view of you from the outside. How do you guys see yourselves in terms of capability of winning a National Championship?

JORDAN HAWKINS: We know we've got the tools to do it. We've got the confidence as well. I mean, that's flattering, but at the end of the day, we've got to take care of it ourselves and have that mindset for ourselves, and we do.

ANDRE JACKSON JR.: I think just taking it game by game. Can't get there unless you take it game by game. So it's definitely good to hear that from somebody, but I think every day Coach reiterates that to us that we have all it takes. It's just about going out and executing the game plan and getting the wins one by one.

THE MODERATOR: Alex, your thoughts?

ALEX KARABAN: Pretty much what both of them just said. We didn't come here just to win this one game. We want to look at the bigger picture. Like Andre said, if we look game by game, we'll just be fine.

THE MODERATOR: Tristen, your thoughts on that?

TRISTEN NEWTON: I agree with all three of them.

THE MODERATOR: Adama, anything to add on that?

ADAMA SANOGO: Same thing.

Q. Tristen, for you, after being in East Carolina and never getting a chance to really play in games like this, what's it like for you to be on this stage and a game away from the Sweet 16?

TRISTEN NEWTON: It feels great. That's the reason I came here, to make a deep run in the Tournament. Like they've been saying, we're just playing game by game. So hopefully we just play hard and play our style of game, so we can go as far as we want to go.

Q. Back to you, Adama. Sort of following up on what I asked you before, when you make those improvements to your game, you try to add those things to your game. Obviously you want to be a good player for Connecticut, but are you also thinking about what it means going beyond Connecticut, those type of improvements?

ADAMA SANOGO: Yeah, like I said, a great player is a guy that can do a little of everything. I know like for us to like win -- for us to win and go deeper, I know for sure my team needs to play great, but I know I've got to do some positive stuff in the game.

So like shooting is definitely one thing of that. And also -- being able to shoot is also good for my life, personally for me. Like I told you, shooting is something that I worked on since I was nothing. So being able to make this shot in a big-time moment, yeah, it's good.

Q. Tristen, obviously yesterday statistically wasn't one of your better games, but other guys stepped up and you still beat a team by 20-something points. How nice is it to know -- and actually, Saint Mary's is in the same situation, their point guard went scoreless yesterday, and they won by double digits. Two teams that have a lot of other weapons. How nice is it to know that when a guy struggles, other guys are going to pick up the slack?

TRISTEN NEWTON: It's been pretty much like that all year. I've had games like this a lot of times this year. It's not like I scored 20 points a game. So they've been doing the heavy lifting most of the year. That's pretty much expected at this point.

Knowing that I have great teammates around me is pretty good honestly, but it's been happening all year. We can expect that to continue to happen.

Q. Adama, I had a question for you, and then if any of you guys want to chime in. With NIL, name, image, and likeness, only American players can benefit from that. You're from Mali, you have family there, trying to take care of your family. What are your thoughts on not being able to do NIL here? Have you been able to do anything overseas with that? For the rest of you guys, do you think that's kind of unfair that the foreign guys can't do NIL?

ADAMA SANOGO: NIL is definitely a good thing. I think like -- it's definitely a good thing. Everybody want to be able to get some NIL, but we can't do nothing right now because I'm an international student, that's fine. Remember NIL just started this year. So like we are playing basketball for free in college. So if we cannot get anything as an international, I think that's fine with me.

Yeah, UConn is a good school, but I was able to do some camps back home in my country like last summer to help -- through NIL to help kids in Africa.

Q. When you were in Mali, were you able to raise money that could help your family also or just the kids?

ADAMA SANOGO: Yeah, I was able to help like -- of course I helped my family, and I was able to help like kids, generally kids because I did a camp for the kids. But my family was fine before NIL. UConn helped sponsor a camp, so we can help kids in Mali basically, through doing a camp. Yeah, it's fine.

THE MODERATOR: Any of you folks have thoughts on that?

JORDAN HAWKINS: I think it's really unfair it's not allowed. He's one of the best big men in the nation, if not at least the top three, so I think it's really unfair. He's making the best of it. He's giving back to his home. So I think that's great.

Q. For those of us who haven't followed you that closely, I mean, there was a point midseason where you guys went into a funk. What happened, and are you out of it in the sense that it's totally gone?

JORDAN HAWKINS: We play in a really tough conference, and it's hard to win, hard to win games in that conference. I think we're out of the funk. I hope we're out of the funk.

We've been playing really well this last month. We're going to continue doing it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your time today and good luck tomorrow.

We welcome Head Coach Dan Hurley of Connecticut. First question.

Q. Dan, obviously these two programs don't share a lot of history. I just wondered what you thought of them from afar over the years. Have you crossed paths with Randy over the years? How much do you know about him and the job he's done there?

DAN HURLEY: Randy, I've just got a ton of respect for Randy. I think obviously you guys have your opinion of who you think the best coaches are that coach our sport, but Randy is one of the best actual coaches in terms of like players developing, culture, identity, winning year in and year out.

So you know you're going up against one of the top coaches. Randy was kind enough to bye my first year at Rhode Island team, went out there for a buy game, and I thought we hung in there for a half. When I was doing the rebuild at Rhodey, he was kind enough to give us a check to fly out there to get our butt kicked.

I think, when you look at them, you see, for me, some similarities to like the Villanova teams in materials of like they don't make a lot of mistakes. They really grind you up at the offensive end with long possessions, and then their defense, they give you very, very little. And obviously the pace of play is one of the slowest in the country.

Q. Dan, Donovan's progress this year, how ready made was he, and how much has he grown during the course of this season?

DAN HURLEY: He's grown a lot. Obviously he -- I think he got up to maybe in like the 290 range in terms of his weight in high school, which was certainly a concern in terms of -- coaches are very smart, right? Putting him in the ball screen game, running him in transition.

So he did a great job of kind of losing 20 to 30 pounds before summer one started, and then our coaching staff helped get him down into that 250 range by the time we were on the court working out.

He's got unbelievable feel and hands, and he's a hell of a competitor. So you saw those tools, and he's got great feel for the game.

I think what's really helped his development, to be honest with you, from June 1 he's had to play against Adama every single day, from that point to this point. We knew we were going to have an impact from him. We didn't know he'd be this dominant, though, at times.

Q. Got to know your father through the high school game in metro New York and got to interview Bobby up in Mohegan Sun. Do you think about carrying the torch now that he lost yesterday in that tough game to TCU?

DAN HURLEY: No. Well, no, not a torch. I got tremendous -- I think about my dad a lot, both with me and my brother, just trying to represent him as coaches with the way that we run our programs, the culture, the fact that we don't cheat, we don't lie, we coach our players hard, we're not trying to win a popularity contest with the media or try to have some fake public front. We just try to be coaches, like old school coaches, in every sense of the word, relative to the players that we're responsible for.

Bob losing, he's obviously crushed. His team had an incredible run to end the year, and they played great yesterday. I talked to him this morning. It's crushing when you lose.

Q. How much has your depth changed things? When you're building -- having guys come off the bench, obviously they have to sacrifice some because they all want to play more, and how did that all kind of work out for you?

DAN HURLEY: I just think the guys that are coming off the bench for us, they should be coming off the bench for this team. It's clear who our starting five is with this group.

A guy like Joey came in here, we didn't promise Joey a minute on the court. Donovan knew that we were returning a first-team all-conference and a preseason Player of the Year player. I think in recruiting we're just very honest about the opportunity that you're more than likely going to be presented with.

So when players end up coming off the bench for us, we're very clear about that potentially being their role. So now they embrace it rather than becoming a cancer on the team.

Q. As good as Adama is, he's tried to broaden his game a little bit. When I look at guys like him and maybe Drew Timme and wonder what is the future for those players? They seem to still have a place in college, but maybe they don't in the pros. What is the future of players with that skill set?

DAN HURLEY: I think for those guys, for a guy like Adama, obviously it's lucrative to stay in the college game with NIL valuations. It's potentially more lucrative than going overseas for somebody without NBA Draft pick or NBA player on their résumé.

For players like Adama to get to the NBA, they've got to demonstrate an ability to make threes and pass and handle the ball away from the basket because that's where the game has evolved to. If players of Timme or Adama's ability don't show enough of those things to the NBA, obviously you could now make a lot of money in college. And not have to go to eastern Europe, western Europe, wherever, Asia.

Q. Dan, do you have any perspective of having grown up in the greater New York area, played and now coached in the Big East, eight years ago your face was on the cover of every sports section in New York because St. John's was looking for a coach, similar to like it is now. Can you share your insight into what you think of that position and whether it intrigued you at all back then?

DAN HURLEY: Was I on the back page today for St. John's?

Q. No, eight years ago about this week.

DAN HURLEY: Yeah, I remember that. I clipped it. I have that. Listen, St. John's is a great job. I think every school in the Big East is a great job, but St. John's is a great job.

For a program that you want history, you want tradition, you want recruiting base, and then obviously you want to have maybe an arena that you play in that you could sell. So, yeah, back then -- (laughing). That was years ago. I can't remember.

Q. When you talk about building a program's culture, how would you define the culture of this team? Is this something that changes year after year? Is there room for improvement?

DAN HURLEY: I think our culture's simple. It's like being the hardest working program in the country. We start -- summer workouts aren't optional. We practice both summer sessions and June and July like it's November. Obviously we don't have 20 hours a week. It's shortened.

But we pride ourselves on our work ethic. We pride ourselves on our professionalism, on how we carry ourselves on campus in terms of being on time for everything, excelling in the classroom, our players being coachable and conducting themselves on the court in a manner that not only playing hard, but the class that they play with.

We play as hard as any team in the country. We're not perfect, but I think -- I think when you watch us play, it's a we thing, it's not a me thing. That's the only type of organization that I think I want to be a part of, and we recruit to it.

Q. Saint Mary's obviously may be the most methodical team you play all year. What is the biggest difficulty in speeding up a team that doesn't want to be sped up?

DAN HURLEY: Yeah, they're so well coached. With the exception of Mahaney, they've all been in a system or in this program, so it's going to be hard to affect them. Obviously you could extend your defense and do some things to try to speed them up and get them outside their comfort zone. If your ball screen defense isn't 1,000 percent on point. Mahaney and Johnson will just eat you alive. Obviously Saxen is a helluva low post player. He's physical. He's tough. He's skilled. It's just a veteran group.

I think obviously the crowd tomorrow will help us play better, but I don't think it's negatively going to affect them at all because they're such veteran players and they've been in many big spots before.

Q. You mentioned, just to circle back, with NIL and Adama, you said it's advantageous they can make money while they're in college. He's obviously an overseas guy. They can't make money. I guess is it your understanding that he was able to make some money when he was in Mali at the camps? And do you think it's fair that the overseas guys can't profit from NIL? Eventually they'll get a payday professionally.

DAN HURLEY: You want to get the director of Homeland Security pissed at me right now? (Laughing).

Listen, creatively, I think there is opportunities for all Division I athletes to be able to take part in it. Certainly a player of Adama's caliber deserves it for everything he's done in his career and everything he's done for UConn basketball. You would hope that would change, but that's obviously something that, again, Homeland Security and government, and that stuff doesn't tend to move super quickly.

Q. Is it cool to see Apostolos and Yarin experience this tournament, guys that had never been to the United States before this year?

DAN HURLEY: Yeah, those guys really add to our culture. We were at 11 scholarships with all of -- I think we anticipated maybe being at 12 scholarships. We had one transfer, I think, that surprised us. I think the rest we had a pretty good sense they were going.

So we were really trying to find some guys that would help us practice and would fit in well with the culture. Especially Apostolos, it was great to get him in there. He's from Greece, but he acts like he could pass for north Jersey.

Q. We talk about March Madness all the time, and this time of year, we talk about majors and mid-majors and lower. Being a Jersey guy, how much fun do you see Saint Peter's last year, FDU this year?

DAN HURLEY: It's fun. Princeton, Saint Peter's, Tobin, unbelievable. Obviously your heart breaks for Matt Painter, who's one of the best tacticians and player development coaches in the country, but on the flip side, I couldn't believe that game last night. Was that yesterday? That was yesterday? That was after our game? That was before Bob's game -- yeah. That was crazy.

Q. Building off of that answer, do you see the competitive gap between high majors and mid-majors shrinking even more?

DAN HURLEY: I think it may -- a couple years from now, I think -- that COVID year, there's just way more inventory with players right now. So like those extra year players that are still kind of out there just creates this larger inventory of older players that could transfer to the mid-major level, transfer down to try to boost some statistics to create an overseas opportunity.

So that inventory, I think -- between the portal, that extra COVID year, has definitely strengthened low majors and mid-majors in this game and made it scarier. I do think, when that extra COVID year has evaporated, maybe it won't be as dangerous if you're a 2 seeder or a 1.

Q. Going back to your bench, you've been so effective lately bringing four, sometimes five subs off the bench mid first half. Was that something you envisioned when the season began, or did that just develop because it was working earlier and now you try it nearly every game?

DAN HURLEY: My best teams, the best teams I've coached prior to this year, it was probably my sixth year team at Rhode Island, where we went nine deep, and I think Fatts Russell was maybe my eighth man, and I had to find a way to get him 16, 18 minutes a game because he was a dynamite player.

I want to play nine players in a perfect world. I think during the mid part of the year when we were struggling, I probably got a little too tight with the rotation, and that was my mistake. Obviously I've learned from it, and I'm trying to trust those guys more.

Then obviously we have an ability to wear a team down. Yesterday Iona played as good as they could play for a half. We were playing just okay offensively and guarding just okay, but eventually we have a chance to break a team because we have a chance to be fresh in the last 10, 12 minutes of a game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297