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March 29, 1999

Jim Calhoun

Khalid El-Amin

Richard Hamilton

Ricky Moore


THE MODERATOR: Welcome and congratulations to our National Championship Coach, Jim Calhoun, who will make a few opening comments and then we'll take questions.

JIM CALHOUN: First thing I want to do, I just told Mike, and he reiterated the same thing to me, I had the privilege to play two of the greatest basketball games, first in 1990 when Christian Laettner made an incredible shot to beat us and send them on to the Final Four, and then tonight one of the greatest basketball games I've ever been involved in. Secondly, I'd like to congratulate Duke, a tremendous basketball team that we beat. The kids wanted Duke instead of Michigan State, you know, I kind of said, you know, maybe the wise head knows better, but the kids knew better. They knew they were going to win; they were going to beat the best, and they did beat the best tonight. As of this moment, we're the best team in the country. We have as much, if not more, character than any team I've ever been associated with. We had the will to win. We had an incredible group of kids who truly believed this was all possible while folks around us were -- and I don't even blame them because I was leading the parade saying how good Duke was, a lot. We felt all along, taking notes down in the Cincinnati game with the pick and roll, who should bring the ball up the court with Duke, et cetera. If we had a chance, we'd have a reasonably good chance to beat a great Duke team. I'm happy for our university and our state and all the things that we did. I'm just thrilled. I feel like by tomorrow I'll know it, that our kids have won the National Championship.

Q. Ricky, can you talk about the last play that regarded Langdon travelling, how you saw that play as he was driving on you.

RICKY MOORE: First of all, you know, I would like to give Duke a lot of credit. They are a great team. We had to give it our all to win the game. I heard Coach K telling Trajan to go hit the ball. I felt that if he got it, he wasn't gonna do anything with it because it was down to crunch time. It was him against me. And, you know, I knew I would get a lot of help my from my teammates. They tried to clear it out, I stayed solid and stayed down. I was right there. So, fortunately, he travelled and we got the ball back.

Q. Jim, can you comment on what this means to you personally after all the near misses, all the sweaty gyms, all the long nights out the whole career?

JIM CALHOUN: It means we won the National Championship. And I've been fortunate enough to win Big East championships. I'm no better a coach than I was three weeks ago or no worse a coach than I was three weeks ago. That's what it means to me. You thought I was kidding before, everybody thought I had to do something. I didn't have to do anything. All I had to do was be true to my kids and coach the best I could and that's what I've done. Tomorrow or tonight, you'll hear a loud yell, that would be me. (Laughter) But beyond that, beyond that, when I was saying Ricky Moore was the best defensive player in the country, I hope he believes me that he didn't need this tournament to prove that. Because he knows I don't give out false praise. I've said he's the best defensive player I've ever coached. When I told you that I didn't need to get to a Final Four as badly as I wanted to, like anyone who would want to win the highest honor in the profession, to think that I could coach basketball, you didn't believe me and I'm just telling you the truth; that's how I feel. I'm as happy as anybody. As I said, if you hear loud yelling tonight, it will be me. I'm happy for our kids, for our program, our school and obviously personally to beat someone like a team and Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke basketball team. I couldn't be prouder. The kids were right. We played the right team. The two best teams in the country played tonight.

Q. Could you give us the keys to your game plan, also could you explain why you let one threat... (Inaudible)

JIM CALHOUN: Well, game plan, starting somewhere in November, I started to just watch games and take notes. I took notes on Cincinnati, who I thought for a long time was the best team with Duke and so on. I got these blue cards out, I think some of you guys have seen the blue cards I always carry around. We started preparing ourselves if we had a chance to meet one of these teams down the line somewhere. And our plan was simply to try to, A, put ball pressure on them to make Langdon bring the ball up the court, not Avery, which would get us into offense quick. B, was to double big-to-big. Elton Brand is a great basketball player, then don't rotate but only have the same guys rotate to the same spot so it would be much more zone. Sometimes if you have other people coming at them, you get confusion. We had no confusions. We knew where our spots were. Then we tried to do everything we could, pick and roll any time one of their bigs played us, that was an automatic rule for us to bring them out and try to exploit that by driving to the basket. We felt that we saw some things, as great as Duke was, that we could use. Yesterday, we had a shoot around, not a practice. We had talked to a couple coaches who had been here before, our kids had done so much for us. The only thing we needed to tell them was what they needed to do to beat a great Duke team, and they did it to perfection obviously. So I think those were the keys. Yesterday we tried to do everything humanly possible to give them a couple things to hang on to but in turn have a light shoot around. That's unusual for us, by the way.

Q. Ricky, could you respond to what your coach just said a few minutes ago about you being the best defensive player he's ever coached. Here you have the National Championship game, you're facing arguably the best shooter in the country, and you're in that position. Respond to that, please.

RICKY MOORE: You know, I believe that. I go out and I work hard. Every day at practice, I go out, Khalid and Rich, we practice and that only makes me better. I give a lot of credit to my teammates, too, also helping me out, coming around screens and they hedge out. You know, down to the last play, like I said, I knew it was him against me. I mean my will to win is going to take over, and it did.

JIM CALHOUN: Excuse me, I want to answer one question. I want to make sure that he knew that -- I'm sorry. I left a small string up there for the jump, and it was really simple. We left it on the ring.

Q. Richard, you hit so many big shots. In a game like this where it's back and forth, so many lead changes, ties, everything, is that something that you take upon yourself, do you want to be the guy that takes those shots?

RICHARD HAMILTON: First of all, I want to thank God for blessing all of us. Without that, we wouldn't accomplish this goal. I'm just thankful that Ricky and Khalid gave me the ball. Kevin set up some screens, the same things they've been doing all year. You know, I just got an open opportunity and I just tried to take advantage of it.

Q. Jim, I think you got 17 points off the bench, you were able to spot guys in and out. Can you talk about what the lift the guys off the bench gave you?

JIM CALHOUN: The key, obviously the coaching staff, we stayed up nights. We knew what Duke was going to do and we knew they were going to do it very well. Our advantage was our quickness and team speed. If anything, people probably disagree about, I guess, depth. We thought we had much more depth defensively, not offensively. We could use that at particular stops, Rashamel Jones, two minutes, E.J., we tried to wear them down as much as we could. In the last six or seven minutes we had an opportunity to win the basketball game.

Q. Jim, at the end of the CBS -- they said that you guys shocked the world. And I would imagine you probably hear of Villanova and Georgetown that this win for you was similar to that one. Do you buy that? Do you think so?

JIM CALHOUN: No, I don't. I don't think our kids do. Neither do I. I think Duke's a great team. But we're 34 and 2. The only time we've lost is when we have not been home. We're a great basketball team, and we beat another great basketball team, the best team we've played all year. But we're not shocked. As I said, I'll be yelling later when this really sinks in. But, no, I don't think we're shocked. We're happy as heck; we're proud. I couldn't be prouder of these guys. I don't think anyone's shocked. We truly felt we could beat them. I knew it was going to be a tremendous challenge but we truly felt we could beat them.

Q. Along those same lines, is it fair to say that knowing you're going to play Duke, playing a team like Duke has brought out the best in your team, coaching and the team?

JIM CALHOUN: I don't know from the coaching point of view, all I did was tell them what to do. Those are the easy things. Talking's easy and diagramming, after 27 years we should be able to put something together. The key is what they did on the court and when adversity hit, 9-2, the early stuff, the way they reacted to it was absolutely incredible. These kids run hills for us; they've done everything humanly possible to get themselves to this particular point. They spent this -- as Kurt said the other day, Israel was really nice, but about 100 degrees also. Everything the coach could possibly ask for. So I think the Duke matchup was what they wanted. They wanted to beat the best. Our kids have been saying -- you heard me say, we haven't played our best game yet. Tonight, if you count character, we might have played our best game.

Q. Thank you. This is for the players. At the moment the gun went off, can you talk about what you saw, what you heard and what you felt?

RICHARD HAMILTON: I think once the ball was thrown up, you know, we attacked them like they were any other team.

At the end of the game I think he meant. What were you feeling? (Laughter)

JIM CALHOUN: Did you mean the end of the game?

RICHARD HAMILTON: What was the question?

At the end of the game what were the three of you feeling, thinking, when the final horn sounded and you realized you had won?

RICHARD HAMILTON: Okay. (Laughing) You really can't describe it. I think I still don't understand the things that we did and what we accomplished tonight. You know, I think it will probably sink in maybe a week from now, two weeks from now. But right now, we are just happy to put a smile on Coach's face, all the fans in Connecticut. Especially all of us.

KHALID EL-AMIN: I think it was a lot of -- I think the Duke fans couldn't believe it. I looked into their section and they just looked like they were shocked. And, you know, that felt good to us, but, again, I can't take anything away from Duke. They played great. They're a great team. And I just think that we played better over the 40 minutes. But, once again, I think it was a lot of shellshock that I felt when the buzzer finally went off at the end of the game.

RICKY MOORE: This is an unbelievable feeling. The character of the guys on the team, you know, I wouldn't change anything. I've been through a lot of things. The character on this team is just outstanding. And I love the guys to death. I would do anything for them. You know, anything I can. And I just love each and every one of them.

Okay, we're going to take a couple more questions for the players and then we'll let them go back to the locker room.

Q. For Khalid and Richard, I think it was 44.2 left, the game was tied. Coach called a 20 so you could get something up and get you two guys in. Was there anything that Coach said to you guys? Do you remember anything?

KHALID EL-AMIN: No, not really. But me and Richard, we looked at each other and we said it's winning time. I think we just outwilled Duke in those last few minutes. And, you know, Coach set up the plays to get me and Richard the ball at the right places at the right time and we were able to produce.

Q. Khalid, after the game, you had your T-shirt on and hat on, you were running around celebrating and the security guys grabbed you. It looked like another case where people didn't think you were a player. (Laughter.)

KHALID EL-AMIN: That's funny. But that really did happen. (Laughter) I was looking at him, why was he trying to grab me. He was trying to escort me off the court. That was an interesting experience. But, you know, the other security guys told him that I was a player. So... (Laughter) You know, I just told him buy me a hot dog after the game.

Q. For Khalid and Richard, is this the -- (inaudible) -- by virtue of the fact that there were few people giving you guys a chance that could do this?

KHALID EL-AMIN: Definitely, I do think so. Coming into the game, we knew we were a 10-point underdog. We felt that was ridiculous and we felt that hurt our pride. We wanted to come out to prove everyone wrong, and I think we came out and really did that with the game plan that the Coach's staff gave us, and just the heart and character that our team showed. That's what it always takes to win a National Championship.

Q. Khalid, five seconds left, you guys are up one. You know they're going to foul. I don't think anybody's seen you move faster than that. You really wanted to shoot those foul shots?

KHALID EL-AMIN: I did. I wanted to redeem myself from missing two earlier freethrow attempts. I wanted to be the one. We jumped other times, like the end of the game, we knew we won the game and they're just fouling to try to get back into the game. I'm talking about another team. We wanted to try to get the ball so we could get extra points. It was just a case of me wanting to redeem myself.

Q. This is for Richard. How difficult was it for you to score tonight? How hard did you have to work offensively to put up your points?

RICHARD HAMILTON: I mean I don't think it was hard. I think I've been doing the same thing all year. I think that I give a lot of credit to my teammates. I think Jake and Kevin and Edmund and so on set some screens for me. When you got them guys on your side to set screens for you, guys like Ricky and Khalid, they're open. It just puts a smile on my face. I just had to be open and finish the shot.

Q. Jim, Richard obviously carried you guys at times during this game. What is it about him that makes him so effective and able to get his shot off at various angles and that sort of thing?

JIM CALHOUN: The first thing about him, he's a great basketball player. I've been fortunate enough to coach great basketball players who are here tonight, Scott Burrell, Donyell Marshall. Just what you said, he scores in so many different ways, beats you in so many different ways is Richard Hamilton. I look at a score board, tonight I'm saying 27 because they were so critically important to us, but he puts up 30. I asked him, was his mom and dad keeping score. He's so deceptive. But he's an amazing, amazing scorer because he has a terrific ability, and he also has a tremendous mind for the game. He understands how to play, which is a very unique thing. I would never question any time he's on the court that he would have a tremendous ability to score points.

Q. After you hit the three at the end, it looked like Avery said something. Did you say something to him?

KHALID EL-AMIN: Yeah, we exchanged words. The ball fumbled out of my hands, he thought I was nervous about shooting my shot, but the ball slipped out of my hand. After I hit the freethrow, we just exchanged some friendly words.

Q. What did you say?

KHALID EL-AMIN: Friendly words. It wasn't nothing I should say out here. Just some friendly words.

End of FastScripts....

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