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March 27, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We will welcome the UConn Huskies. I will ask Coach Calhoun for a few opening remarks, and then we will have questions for the student-athletes. We'll dismiss them to their breakout sessions, we'll keep Coach, we will have questions for the Coach.
Coach, general comments?
COACH CALHOUN: Last night after watching the tape of the game, I was even happier the way we played. We had a couple of offensive droughts which I think certainly was caused by Purdue's persistent defense. But nevertheless -- otherwise, I thought we did a really good job defensively.
I thought we had great focus in the game. And I was really, really happy the way we played, and obviously the last key on our board was -- said the Regional Finals. That was the fourth key. Just as this week it will be -- fourth key will be Detroit. So we are 80 minutes away, we are 40 minutes away and Missouri is 40 minutes away. And a whole bunch of folks when they get to this point are 40 minutes away from something you say at the beginning of the season, believe maybe a little bit at the beginning of the season, but then need time and wins in order for it to come to fruition.
So we are excited about the opportunity to be here. We are excited about certainly -- very respectful of what we saw from Missouri last night.
I watched Memphis. Obviously they have had great success four years in a row with 30 wins a year and the defense was giving up 36 percent. What Missouri did to that defense was absolutely astounding. The only reason, quite frankly, they didn't put even more points is when they slowed the game down a little bit and obviously Missouri -- excuse me, Memphis being the team that it was, they fought their way back and had a chance at the end.
But Missouri probably plays -- they advertise it as the 40est fastest minutes in basketball, and I'm a believer. Usually I don't like slogans, but that one is true and we really are facing an opponent that we are going to have to walk a very delicate balance with. Memphis wanted to run with them purely for 40 minutes and that is not Connecticut's desire to run 40 minutes with Missouri. Memphis tried it, and I think most teams that try it are not going to be that successful with it. I think it is very hard to do. You get caught in it. It wasn't because of John Calipari. Two or three easy baskets gets you caught into it. But they are really good. They are really good and they are nine deep and they all play the same, fast, hard and full speed.
We will open for questions. Once again, I know on behalf of our team, it is a very happy group of Huskies speaking to them this morning.
HASHEEM THABEET: It is Hasheem.
Q. I'm sorry. Or I could just call you beast, right? The Missouri big men had mentioned that maybe drawing you outside. I mean, this is something I presume a lot of people try to do. How confident are you that you can handle -- individually handle the pace of this game?
HASHEEM THABEET: Well, I'm just looking for -- pretty good, their big guys are pretty good shooters. The key is going to be the team defense, not just me. I always have my guys help me. A lot of times I help them, so we're just going to go over there and play five as one on the defensive end and we should be able to take care of the game tomorrow.
Q. For any of the players up there, are you guys worried about depth being a problem tomorrow?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: Not at all. I mean, we played teams that try to pressure us. For instance, Louisville, and we had a good run with them. I feel like depth isn't really part of it. We're young guys. Our adrenalin is going to be running, and we can't wait to get on the court.
JEFF ADRIEN: We are not too worried about fatigue or anything like that. We played 30-plus games this year and six overtime games, so we will be prepared for it.
A.J. PRICE: I don't think we will have a problem with fatigue or depth or anything like that. We have a good core of guys and we can go seven, eight guys deep if we need to as well. So I don't think it will be a problem.
STANLEY ROBINSON: I think they pretty much summed it up right there, to be honest with you. No sense of me just keep saying the same thing (laughter).
Q. Stanley, the job that you worked in autumn was sheet metal, right?
STANLEY ROBINSON: Yeah.
Q. Can you describe what the typical workday is for a sheet metal worker?
STANLEY ROBINSON: I mean, it was tough waking up at 7:00 in the morning and then getting off at 4:30. It is life. You got to deal with it. It is a average job. I got through it and I can look back on it and say I am proud of myself.
Q. What did you do?
STANLEY ROBINSON: I was pretty much just boxing everything, copper, doing whatever they tell me to do. I mean, like throwing like plastic in boxes and stuff like that all day long.
Q. Craig, you guys have always been a good defensive team. It seems like you have stepped it up a little bit more in the post-season. Do you think you have? What's been the difference?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: We definitely have. I mean, we know that it starts with defense. We want to pressure the guy bringing the ball up and having the big guy back there really helps. Come post-season play it really starts with defense and that's what we predicate our game on.
Q. Jeff and A.J., when you guys got Stanley back into the program, can you describe what kind of an impact it had for your group?
JEFF ADRIEN: Stanley gives us another element to our team with his athletic ability, getting to the rim and dunking and playing great defense. It was just another guy we added to our team, just made us very deep. And we just played -- having Stanley here is just, you know, awesome basically.
A.J. PRICE: I think we really had to adjust and adapt when we got Stanley back. Because before he returned, we had the three-guard offense. That's when we had Jerome in our lineup so we were playing a much faster-paced game, more rugged type of game. With Stanley back, we became more of a traditional team with having size in the wing. He brings so much to the team.
I think we benefitted from it greatly on a defensive end by his rebounding. So when we got him back, I think we became a more traditional team again and it really helped us out.
Q. DeMarre Carroll of Missouri said he remembered playing against you. He said one of the things he remembers most is he would always end up on the winning side. Is that the same recollection that you have of playing against DeMarre?
STANLEY ROBINSON: That's the truth. I'm looking to get him back, to be honest with you. We were born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. We always played each other in basketball on high school. They always won on the winning end. It will be a great competition tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. A.J. and Craig, you guys have always been comfortable in a fast-paced game. As your Coach said, you don't want to get caught up in a race with these guys. Will it be difficult -- is it tricky not being lured into a race tomorrow? How much is it going to be upon you guys to really set the pace?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: We love playing fast, but we saw what happened to Memphis. They really fell into the trap of playing too fast. With A.J. and myself, we have the ability to kind of control the game and see what's going on out there, play with poise. So we feel like we are going to have to do that tomorrow.
A.J. PRICE: You definitely don't want to get caught up with that type of game with this team. We like to play fast, but we don't want to play as fast as I think they want to play. That's kind of a different -- different situation for us because we usually want to play faster than most teams. But this team wants to go up and down all game long.
For us to do that I don't think would be smart. I think we have -- obviously an advantage inside with our size. We would be foolish not to slow the game down at times and use that to our advantage. I think we will do a great job of determining when we should go fast, when we should slow it up and when should we try to use our advantage inside.
Q. Can you talk about Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, what you have seen of them on film and maybe what challenge they present to you guys on defense.
HASHEEM THABEET: It should be a good matchup. In the Big East we face all kind of defensive matchups. Everybody is big and as strong as you. This is post-season play, so who want to win more? We are just going to be out there ready for the challenge and do whatever we can do to get a win.
STANLEY ROBINSON: I know they are a tough team and they like to play up defense a lot. I think DeMarre, he likes to get to the basket a lot. So Jeff and A.J. will be checking him. We will watch film on it today to pretty much, like, check on it some more.
Q. Hasheem, what do you and the other big guys have to do to cope with Missouri's defense which is probably going to be a bunch of little guys swarming around you trying to get to the ball?
HASHEEM THABEET: Again, it is tough when we get -- the whole team, when we play the team defense, it will be tough. I know my guys will do a good job of slowing the ball down so we can play half-court defense. Once we stay out there on half-court defense, then we can be really effective.
Q. A.J., the natural comparison for us to look at is Louisville-Missouri. How exactly are they like Louisville and how are they different?
A.J. PRICE: Well, I think their pressure is kind of different in a sense. Louisville has a traditional 2-2-1 matchup type of pressure. This team, they switch it up throughout the team. They really won't give you the same look.
Sometimes they will just trap out of nowhere. They really don't have any sense of structure to their pressure. They just like to pressure you and speed you up.
In a sense, Louisville tried to do the same thing but we handled it well. So, I mean, whatever they throw at us, we are going to have to be ready for it. I think we did a great job in practice preparing for that, looking at film. We are prepared for that as well. We just need to control the ball, try to limit the turnovers and make the right decisions. And, like I said, know when to attack and know when to slow it down a little bit.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the players.
Q. Jim, can you talk about the difference between the kind of pressure that Missouri plays, the kind of pressure that I guess the antecedent, the Arkansas 40 minutes of hell played and other kinds of defenses that you have faced before?
COACH CALHOUN: Going back to Nolan and of course Mike's background, that 40 minutes of hell certainly was for an awful lot of teams.
The relentless nature -- and I do think that, quite frankly -- the kids are out of sight. I'm a little more concerned with depth than they are (smiling), because one thing I thought they did, even though it took Memphis time to come back, by the end Memphis had either fouled out all their significant players or in fact didn't have the gas to continue the game.
Now, part of that had to do with making the big comeback. But part of that had to do with the style that Missouri plays. So if it compares -- I really watch that team. We have been a pressing team and I have been a pressing coach for 30-something years. But the fanatical controlled pressure that can come out of anywhere, and it evolved years ago from the run and jump from Dean Smith to so many great coaches, Tom Davis who really, really had that.
And then I think that without question Nolan probably for four- or five-year period became such a difficult team to play because you just -- if you didn't have teams where your individual players can make plays, the whole idea behind it is to create opportunities where someone gets thrown the basketball out of a double team, now you got to make a play. It is not your plays, it is your players. They try to have you make a play.
I always remember Nolan talking a great deal about that, that he wants to set you up. Certainly the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Mike wants the same thing. He wants you to make plays. If you have five great players to make plays, great. Most of us don't have five guys that can just make plays. That's why they've been so successful. It does remind me a great deal of what Arkansas did.
I think the delicate balance we are going to have to maintain -- obviously the kids have listened very well. We met last night right after the game. The kids watched the first half of the game here, the last ten minutes back at the hotel. We met afterwards and we started talking first thing the delicate balance between getting caught in a game. Memphis is a terrific team. They get caught into a game that they like but don't always play exactly like that. Every time that Missouri rolls the ball out, I can tell you that's how they play. They play very well at that. Certainly one of the best teams obviously by being in the Final Eight in the country of doing that.
So if you play a team at its strength and think that you are going to overwhelm them by doing that, why would we waste a 7-foot-3 guy, a guy that scores almost 1600 points now in Jeff Adrien -- Hasheem just went over 1,000 -- why would we waste those guys in nothing more than a full-court game before they will basically be at the top of the key, top of the key. We want to get the ball to them. The delicate balance is don't get sucked into a game that's too fast for you.
Conversely, attack pressure to make them pay a price because they probably will get some steals. They will probably get a couple turnovers.
Q. Along that same line, how important is ball handling tomorrow? Do you have enough of them to handle it?
COACH CALHOUN: You know, obviously I have great confidence in the three guards, and Donnell Beverly who helped us a lot last year, as you remember correctly, in that nine games without Jerome. We tried to rest -- A.J. had a little tweak. He's fine. We tried to rest A.J. a little bit and played Donnell particularly far out an awful lot more. We started right off attacking pressure. That was the first thing we did. Then we tried to go against their offense by playing defense. That's the first thing we did. We just feel that is what separates them.
So we are going to need people to handle the ball. We try to throw Jeff, Hash, Gavin and Sticks the ball in awkward situations and then make sure we hit outlet passes from those. Once again, you don't average ten steals a game -- we had a great team back in 1990 that averaged 12 1/2 and they are not that far away from that great pressing team we had back in 1990. They cause chaos without question.
I'm just concerned that we do a good job early, particularly of rotating people and, yet, staying on top of our game.
Q. Last night you mentioned that you got goose bumps when you were talking to your team about playing in another regional final. You don't seem like a guy who gets goose bumps a lot. What is it about this game --
COACH CALHOUN: You don't think I'm warm and fuzzy? That's usually what they say.
Q. What is it about this game besides the obvious stakes of playing in another Final Four that makes it so special for you, especially considering you played in a number of them already.
COACH CALHOUN: I can tell you, very honestly, last year when I went through a very difficult summer with battling cancer and going through it, we made some changes in our team. Not to disparage anybody, but addition by subtraction, and this particular group of kids with the addition of Kemba and some of the other kids made our team just an incredibly likeable team.
Jeff grew up some more. A.J. Price, as you can see, even verbally, but he does that to his teammates, gave much more of himself. Hasheem has always been a great jokester, gave more.
Bottom line is the team became incredibly likeable. It was really great tonic for me, okay, to have this team. And when two of them, Craig and -- unfortunately A.J. wasn't playing because he had a near-death experience, but when they started, they started out on a 32-3 team that went to -- lost to George Mason in the Final Eight. But that team didn't focus down the stretch and, yet, they were incredibly talented and a great group of kids but just didn't put the package together.
This particular team has had to fight back from a number of different things, given particularly the Jerome Dyson injury. It appears -- and some of you guys have mentioned this already -- that they have. At least in post-season play, we certainly have. Are we a better team? No. But we are a different team. We are playing pretty good right now.
The reason the game might have appeared to be ragged yesterday, Purdue makes you look ragged. Bottom line, when this team was 17-14, the worst record in 20-something years at UConn, they are all freshman, sophomores and they persevered, Jeff, Craig, a whole group of them, and now they're here.
I don't know if obviously you always want to get to a Final Four. Obviously you want to get to a national championship. I think it would be very, very special. Them passing 30 wins yesterday was very special for me. Because I believe this is an incredible group of kids who have stuck with it.
In life many times it is easy to criticize. It is easy to give up. It is easy to do a lot of things. It is hard to stick with it. It is hard to stick with people sometimes whether you believe in them or not, whether you really believe in them.
They believed in UConn. They believed in me, which is nice. They believed in what we're trying to do. And so for that, if we can get them to a Final Four and hopefully beyond that, but if we can get them to a Final Four, it would be a just reward for a group of kids who have really, really experienced some adversity this year and, yet, won 30 games and became the No. 1 seed.
That's a long -- all my answers are -- a longwinded answer to something that's really, really meaningful to me.
Q. Obviously it is going to be valuable to have Hasheem inside against Missouri the way they like to attack the basket. How do you make sure that Missouri can't keep him out on the perimeter or even on the bench with foul trouble?
COACH CALHOUN: The foul trouble I have no control over. I try. I try my darnedest but it doesn't work. I don't have control of that.
I wouldn't have called that goaltending yet, but I had no control over it. My point being simply I won't have control of the foul trouble. But have other teams always tried to make sure the high pick-and-roll is always Hasheem's man? Yeah. That's the guy that sets the high pick-and-roll normally just to make sure he is not down low.
Everybody has tried to do that. Sometimes been successful. Sometimes -- Notre Dame did that with Harangody. When they did it back at our place, we were able to beat them twice. Once again, some nights you are able to work it pretty well.
Last year when we played San Diego in the tournament, he wasn't the same player. They put a kid outside that made jump shots and we lost the game by one at the buzzer.
My point is we kind of assume that Mike knows how to coach. Therefore, we know he will try to get him away from the basket in every way possible. But somehow or another usually 7-foot-3 guys kind of drift and migrate back towards the rim.
Q. You mentioned your worries a little bit with the depth of your team. You also talked a little bit about Missouri, what they do defensively, bringing different schemes at you defensively. Does not only physical fatigue worry you but mental fatigue, having to be worried about Missouri's different schemes at all times?
COACH CALHOUN: If you try to handle it, which we did today, we took some of our stuff. We did last night on the blackboard. We did it today during the 90 minutes and simplified it. Tried to handle basically three or four different looks the same ways.
You know what I'm saying? Even though they may have come from different angles, we tried to handle it the same way. For example, instead of running certain plays, we just run a stack offense. We start out with a basic stack. Now, from there if you want to zone us or you want to match up on us or you want to play man on us, we can run -- we have things we can run automatically out of that. So that's the kind of stuff we did today, the 1-4 offense. We went to that today because we run that against both man, zone and matchup, the three things they employ.
Q. With Craig playing well yesterday and Stanley doing well in the tournament, do you feel like you can really count on everybody now? Where different parts of the season, it hasn't always been the case.
COACH CALHOUN: There is no question. I think very simply up until the time Jerome went down and we were 24-1, we could count on most everybody. Georgetown beat us, but most everybody.
After that there is no question that we got a couple more wins. But down the stretch we lost the two games to Pittsburgh and that six overtime game to Syracuse.
And the team's psyche, swagger, whatever you want to call it, was shaken a little bit. Yeah, we didn't get as much consistency because we are trying to find ourselves. Have we truly found ourselves? If we get to Detroit, we'll find ourselves. If we get to Detroit, we'll find ourselves. I don't even know yet, given Missouri's matchups -- I know Memphis is a terrific team.
Given their matchup and given our matchups, I don't know what that really, truly means, what each team has done to win three games to get here. You won't know that until it settles its way out and you look back upon it. Do we have three good matchups for us? I didn't think Purdue was a great matchup for us because they didn't want to play the way we wanted to play. So I thought it was going to be a more difficult matchup because normally they run that motion and continue to run that motion. And it became, quite frankly, the most difficult game we had. Now, it should have because of the seeding and the place in the tournament, the Sweet 16.
Nevertheless, most of that stuff will be decided tomorrow. Do I feel more comfortable now knowing the way Stanley is playing, watching Craig get 17 points yesterday, Jeff not having a great game, yet, us still being able to do what we do, putting Stanley at the four, some of the things we have been able to do over the past four or five games, in particular here in the tournament, without question I feel more comfortable without question. More importantly, me feeling comfortable, no one really cares if I sleep or not, do the kids feel more comfortable on the court? And it appears like they do.
Q. With the fear you have got -- or at least the concern you've got about the Missouri fast-break, might you have to sacrifice some offensive rebounding?
COACH CALHOUN: For a coach who has always believed that you can outrebound any team in any game -- and we have had a pretty good record of doing so, Top Ten for the past -- I think it is 14, 15, 16 times in the past 20 years -- we are going to be there, one of those teams. It is really hard for me to truly believe that we are going to concede any type of offensive rebounding.
Purdue did for a while last night, yesterday's game early, once we got that lead 16-6. They conceded the boards and went back and played -- and didn't give us easy hoops. But, you know, I almost can't see myself -- not stopping this, but I can't get a 7-foot-3 guy to release early and go back and give up on a rebound. I can't get Jeff Adrien to do that. I would be foolish to have Stanley Robinson do that. We have worked on rotations today making sure when A.J. drives, weak side wing, rotates back, and what all has to happen after the talk here today, more importantly, the action tomorrow, the fact that we follow through.
Once again, we'll leave here after our commitments, then go out to eat and then go back and watch quite a bit of tape and relax and get up in the morning and get ready for a basketball game.
Q. What do you make of the all Big East regional final of Pitt and Villanova being hosted by Boston College which treated the Big East like it did? Ironic, isn't it?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm in enough trouble as it is. I just would rather not (smiling).
I have been blamed for the economy recently. I have been -- I would say -- I like your word. It is very ironic. It is very ironic. By the way, it is a heck of a matchup. Villanova was sensational last night. I think Pitt is as good as any team in the country and Villanova is making a pretty good run at being a very difficult team to play. So it really -- but ironic is a great word. Thank you (smiling).
Q. Even though they speeded up Memphis last night, it looked like when they were in their half-court offensive, Missouri, they were very effective. Did that come through on the tape?
COACH CALHOUN: No question.
Q. Was that a factor of Memphis being sort of out of kilter when they got back on defense?
COACH CALHOUN: I think when John -- I don't know this obviously. I think John in one of his timeouts said we got 16 minutes on the clock. We are down 18, down 17, I think, about that time. Let's get two points at a time and get a stop.
By that time, you're right, until the game got kind of open again for them and I think we all would agree that Missouri had to become a little defensive, they were starting to play the clock a little bit at maybe the eight-minute mark. As I'm watching it, yeah, Memphis was speeding up and, quite frankly, Missouri was slowing them down. So the game kind of changed.
But when a team takes you out of what you want to do or a team beats you at something you think you are really good at, it can be very, very -- it can be very disabilitating to a team, to a psyche makeup when it gets a fear that when it thinks it does exceptionally well. I think that's what Missouri did by dominating. I think Mike said it. They attacked Memphis who has got a terrific defense. I thought what happened, they fed off that and become a much better defensive team. Down the stretch they gave up some hoops. Now they are a balancing act of the clock and time-score situation kind of thing.
Q. Back to the question of the Big East, obviously the tournament's faith in your conference has been well rewarded with the results in this tournament. To what extent did the toughness of that conference make your team what it is today as opposed to your psyche getting damaged by Pitt in a six-overtime game late? And is this the most dominant conference we have seen in college basketball in any one year?
COACH CALHOUN: I think it is. I can only speak of my 23 years in the Big East and we have had some awfully good players go through in that time. At one point we have five teams in the Top 15 in America. Terrific basketball teams. Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, all of those people going through it around the same time.
I have seen some great -- just as I joined, we had just come off the year before three teams in the Final Four. So -- but if you took it from 16 to 1, I mean, there are so many tough outs along the way. There are so many tough places to have to go play. It happened to be here that Hasheem came back, Flynn came back. You could name the All-Star team that came back and it hasn't happened every year in our league.
We are a team loaded -- we are a conference, excuse me, loaded with some great players who all came back with veteran teams. And I have said 1,000 teams but truly believe that Georgetown, Notre Dame -- Notre Dame is now playing very well -- but that those teams are really good but they get caught in a cycle of having to play five teams in the Top 25 in a relatively short period of time. Georgetown did, by the way, right in a row. And they had a couple young kids and if you get on a one-game, it could become a three- or four-game losing streak like that.
I have never been in a conference where that happens. Usually it is a tough game, semitough game and maybe a game that you are superior talent-wise. But that wasn't really the case much at all this year. It really wasn't. We had some great teams at the top.
Louisville, by the way, all the time kept getting better. Pittsburgh was almost good from the get-go. It seemed to me Villanova has grew as they have gone on.
Syracuse got healthy. Rautins was hurt. When they lost three out of four or four or five games, they lost their center and their best shooter. And they're healthy now. It really, really became a league that became just so impossible for every game.
I look back upon them and I'm astounded how well our kids did and every one of our coaches should be. We lost one road game this year. And it was to that league, one of the best accomplishments of any team in 23 years -- it might be the best accomplishment regular season. I mean, we've had a 17-1 in our league. But that might be the best accomplishment we have had of any single feat to go 8-1 in our league on the road. That's how hard it was.
We went to West Virginia, Louisville, et cetera, Pittsburgh and so on and won at some -- Marquette -- very, very difficult places.
Q. Just regarding the recent controversy, your program put out a statement. You addressed it, both times by saying you wouldn't have any more to say. So I saw you quoted twice in national publications today. I was wondering if you would like to comment any further on any mistakes that may have been made, as you alluded to, in one of the pieces.
COACH CALHOUN: I was asked a particular question. I will say that.
The first thing I know you all out there have a job to do. I truly -- I know it doesn't seem like I recognize your job, but I actually do realize that you have to work for a living and actually have to inform the public and put out the printed word. There is no question, and let people know what's going on. Our fans are hungry to know what's going on, too.
But we cannot -- we are not the ones that are going to judge UConn. Quite frankly, it is going to be people at the NCAA level and the 200 -- 500 -- I said yesterday when they asked me could a mistake have been made, my quote was "in a 508-page manual, a mistake could have been made." Do I know if any has been made? No, I'm not making judgment one way or the other. I said could there have been a mistake made.
As we speak, I know Jeff Hathaway, our athletic director, our compliance people, and our outside counsel -- I had a conversation with them this morning and, by the way, right after practice because I need to have them answer a question for me on how the process is going. But I am not going to by any stretch of the imagination make judgment upon us. Because my judgment didn't make any difference.
Quite frankly, the University's judgment except -- I truly believe in what we have intended and tried to do as a program. And I said, if we made mistakes, someone else will judge that for us out of that 508-page manual, that is the NCAA manual. It is really that simple.
If I didn't say that to everybody else, then I apologize because I know, once again, people are asking you what's the story. But I'm not going to make public comment on something that the governing body of college athletics is going to comment on. So I'm going to keep it at that. Once again, I understand what you need to do, but all I can do is just tell you, repeat that comment that I made yesterday and probably should have made it up here.
When I said something yesterday, you were probably tired of listening to me, but everybody just about left. I'm not making an excuse. I'm saying I was going to say something similar, and I'm glad you asked the question. I have a responsibility, first, to my institution, to my kids, to my program. I believe that we always try to do the right things. And all I said very simply, out of our 508-page manual it will be up to the judgment of the NCAA did we in fact make or not make a mistake. They are getting information as we speak. And that will be decided by other people, not us.
And so all I can do is that we play Missouri tomorrow, get my team as ready as I possibly can for Missouri and no more. Would I like everybody in the world to have great faith and confidence in me and maybe give this a shot? Yeah. Very honestly and candidly, of course I would. Is that going to happen? Of course it isn't. That's not the nature of the way things are. People by nature are going to question what you do and what you don't do.
I have done this for 37 years. I truly believe that everything I have tried to do I have done with a good, clean conscious and if we made a mistake, we'll find out about it. If we didn't, we will also find out about that.
Q. How difficult and exhausting a year has this been for you with your health issues before the season started, during the season, some well-publicized situations obviously --
COACH CALHOUN: I don't know about that. Well publicized, when I yelled at somebody, I was called a bully. And then I didn't say anything, and I was guilty. Which way do you want to have it? Just tell me. I'm not going to do what you ask me to do. If you tell me, it is not going to make any difference. Point being, which way do you want it? Just tell me. Someone said that he didn't yell, therefore he was guilty. Someone said I bullied somebody when someone asked me about salary. Not at UConn but about Comcast. All I'm saying to you is all I'm trying to do is do my job. Understand that you have a job to do, too.
I didn't answer your question, did I?
Q. Has it been a particularly tough and exhausting year? Does it have you thinking at all of possible retirement in the near future?
COACH CALHOUN: Couple guys have asked me that and rightfully so. Every single year -- a few years ago, I was going up from Charlotte with Dean Smith. I was not in the hall of fame at the time. I asked him very simply, Coach, why did you get out. Said, I got out at 67 years of age. I will turn 67 in May, by the way. He said, I loved the coaching. The other stuff, and he didn't mean just media, he meant all the other stuff that surrounds our game at times, all the other various aspects and all the -- I think all the -- I always have said that the faculty senate wants nothing but Rhodes Scholars.
Many of the fans want a waiver wire. So you pick someone up on the fly. Other people want a perfect performance by you every single night and you to be Gentleman Jim. Whatever the case may be, you are not going to please all those people.
My point is, after a while, all the other stuff can get to it. That was Dean's point when got out of coaching. He said he never left coaching because of basketball.
So this year or any other given year, I always reflect -- he said, don't ever -- but the great thing he said to me, don't ever make a decision after a great win or after a bad loss. Particularly don't make it after a season. Wait some time to see how things look.
I love my team. I love coaching. I have really enjoyed this team. So I think the final answer to your thing is, this team has made this season very joyful for me personally. Has there been some trials and tribulations? Without question.
But it seems like for a lot of us in this business, that's part of the job that we do. If you want to be in the highlight program, you are going to be able to inhale the heat. There is heat brought -- if you are going to be a No. 1 seed, then that's -- or in the NCAA tournament, or in the Big East, if you are going to be at that level, then there is going to be scrutiny. People are going to write, say whatever about you. That's just part of the nature of what we do.
So I would wait like I do every spring and late in the spring to make any kind of decision about my future. My future right now is I want to coach, and most importantly I want to coach against Missouri tomorrow.
Q. Just to be fair, wanted to give you a chance to respond to a report out of Tampa today that Josh paid for Nate Miles to have surgery down there about a year ago -- year or two ago.
COACH CALHOUN: I have no response. Thank you.
Q. Most of us have been with you through -- most of those 27 years.
COACH CALHOUN: Actually you have.
Q. Sadly or not. I guess the question is, the most anybody has in their profession is their reputation. I wonder how you -- you are in the hall of fame. You have done a number of tremendous things for the profession. How does it feel closer to the end of your career than the beginning to have to be in a position -- I'm not asking you specifics of anything -- but just generally being in a position of having to defend, talk about the NCAA. Is that just part of the business? Or are you offended by it? Hurt by it? Or it doesn't matter?
COACH CALHOUN: No, it does matter. I'm a human being. I wear my emotions on my sleeves. I think everybody who knows me knows that.
I think depending upon the source, it can be very hurtful, certainly. No one likes to have their integrity -- I have done this for 37 years. I'm not going to go back to every single thing that has ever happened to me. But as far as any NCAA violation that Jim Calhoun has been accused of -- not a kid in his program, not a plane ticket or anything of that nature. After 37 years, I guess that it is somewhat hurtful, not that someone said it couldn't happen, but not to give time to see if something did happen and to jump right in, especially if you know me.
So I guess you don't really know me or don't care. Is that a little hurtful? I have a lot of respect for a lot of you people whether you realize it or not. We don't always agree, but I have a lot of respect for you. Sometimes you just jump. You don't need to jump. You don't know me, jump. But if you have a feeling about what I have tried to do for 37 years, has it always been right? Nope. Have I been wrong?
You know, a lot of words and other things I would like to take back. Anybody who is as emotional as I am, without question. You and I, as a matter of fact -- I said something to you -- I still remember back at Boston Garden, When are you going to win the big game? And I jumped on you. I have great, incredible respect for you. It hurt more for you to say that than someone else. That's why I said it's the source many times.
Q. (Question of microphone).
COACH CALHOUN: Thanks. I appreciate that. I was going to say two, but I will leave it at that.
But I remember the day. I remember standing right there with you because I had great respect for you. I do read The Times. I read you. And I had great respect for what you had to say. What you like to do is have people give you the benefit of the doubt over what you earned. If it was my first year in coaching, tenth year in coaching, okay. I think I have tried to do the best I can. I have always been the person -- every judgment I have ever made in life about every single thing I have done can't always be accurate. And I speak for all the rest of us in the room, too.
Q. Am I being unfair if I suggest that it's your job to know what's in those 508 pages?
COACH CALHOUN: Do you think every NCAA investigator knows what's in every one of those 508 pages? You think so?
Q. In general, yes.
COACH CALHOUN: In general, they know every single interpretation.
Q. That's why they have the job. That's why there is only 20 of them on earth. In general.
COACH CALHOUN: Overall, I would assume it is my job to know -- it is not my job to know what every human being whoever graduated from UConn is doing at every single moment 24 hours a day.
Is it my responsibility according to that 508 pages? Yes. That's what the Net says. The Net says you are responsible for anybody who graduated from UConn, anybody who represents the athletic interest of UConn, lifetime, all that kind of stuff.
I think I have a pretty good knowledge of the NCAA book. Do I know every single particular -- up until September, you couldn't leave messages -- I mean, you could leave messages, now you can't. It counts as one phone call a week. Things that affect you in every single day basis -- by the way, if you call the NCAA and they really stopped us doing that so we call the conference office, you will get different interpretations over different things because it all has to be put in context. It can't just be a simple answer. So no one in my opinion knows every single answer. It has to be put in context.
There are extenuating circumstances. There are a whole different kind of thing. What I'm going to do right now is very simply tell you we are trying to get ready for Missouri. All I'm very simply telling you is that back home my athletic director and the people there and the only people that can control that are working on that. All I'm trying to do is get our team to hopefully get us a trip to Detroit by playing a terrific Missouri team.
Q. The hall of fame status, the national championships, all your victories, maybe that should earn you the benefit of the doubt. But the way the world is is that seldom anybody gets the benefit of the doubt. Do you feel like you have become a distraction to this team? And did anybody talk to you about stepping aside until this is cleared up?
COACH CALHOUN: Did we play yesterday?
Q. Yes, you did.
COACH CALHOUN: And we won, right?
COACH CALHOUN: To answer your question simply, no. I think my athletic director came out with a supportive I'm very supportive of Jim, myself, the president, et cetera, and his job is to go out and try to win -- try to beat -- he said yesterday Purdue. Now it will be Missouri.
And that's my job. My job right now is -- I have no control over those other things until I go back home. And then, as I said, I won't ever have control of it. It will be controlled by the people that were -- a member of the association, the NCAA.
Q. The heart of my question is do you feel like you have become a distraction to this team?
COACH CALHOUN: No, I don't at all.
End of FastScripts