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March 14, 2014

DeAndre Daniels

Shabazz Napier

Kevin Ollie


UConn -  58
Cincinnati -  56

THE MODERATOR:  We will get started with the UConn Huskies, head coach, Kevin Ollie, Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, Coach?
COACH OLLIE:  It was just a great game.  Seems like every time we play Cincy it comes down to a one‑possession game.  They're well‑coached and they play hard and I think we stood up to them and we stayed in the middle of the ring and kept throwing punches.  It was a great victory for UConn and for our program and I told everybody coaching is overrated.  This is a players' game and my players stepped up tonight and took over the game and they matched their intensity and then we brought it up a notch.  We got down by 7, wasn't anybody pointing fingers, we just came together and stayed connected and everybody did their job tonight.  Not only the players on the floor but the players on the bench and it was a collective team win and we go to the next one, that's what it's all about.

Q.  Coach, how does it feel in the first season in this brand new conference for your team to be playing in the conference championship?
COACH OLLIE:  It feels great but, you know, it started last year, when we couldn't perform in a conference tournament or go to the NCAA Tournament, those guys still played for our great university and they stayed loyal to the program and they planted seeds and that's what it's all about, now you seeing the plant grow but they planted seeds last year.  I want them to continue to plant seeds and we keep moving on and it's another 40‑minute war and we ready to battle.

Q.  Coach, one week later you get Louisville again.  We know what happened a week ago.  Why will this be different in your mind?
COACH OLLIE:  We going to come out and play.  This is the postseason and that is behind us.  I think we're a better team and of course Louisville is a better team and we're going to face out in the ring and see who comes out but I like my guys and I wouldn't trade 'em for the world and we're going to play solid and hopefully we come out with the win tomorrow.

Q.  Kevin, how did the defense change so quickly and early in that second half.  Obviously Amida was a big part of it, what was the difference.
COACH OLLIE:  Amida, DeAndre took it personal.  They wanted to win individual match‑ups with a team concept and that's how we got back in the game.  We started rebounding the basketball better, we got out on the fast break and started converting a little bit but that defense was stellar.
To hold a team town to 37% and then we held down our last team 27% and it's a great feeling when you know you can get stops and we call three stops in a row "kills" and I believe we had five kills tonight which is a great attribute to bring at anytime when we not scorin', we can always rely on our defense that's what we hang our hats on and that's what we been doin' since I was a player?

Q.  Coach, it was clear like in the first half, 11 turnovers, second half, 4.  Once you got to a point where you started protecting the ball and responding to the pressure how much did that change the shape of the game?
COACH OLLIE:  It changed the shape of the game because they were getting live turnovers, I believe they had 12 points off of turnovers and 18 points in the paint.  It was leading to easy buckets and we started being more solid with the basketball, keeping them in front of us and it allowed our defense to stay solid and with Bazz taking care of the ball, Ron taking care of the ball even DeAndre and Niels it allowed us to get shots up to the rim and it wasn't empty possessions.  So we was just down by 4 halftime, and we was smiling, down by 4, 11 turnovers, I didn't show that to them but I was happy.  It was a grind‑out win.  That's why this team is so fun they get down and dirty and I love 'em.  I love 'em to death!

Q.  Shabazz, take us through the last play with Shawn having the and talk about guarding him down the stretch.
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  I picked the ball up and Shawn was behind Justin and Shawn was running down setting him a pick and I was trying to bait him on one side and he came down on the other side and I'm not sure, I think it was DeAndre or Amida, when I cut him off he went back middle and they contested his layup and I thought it was going to go down but he definitely put too much spin on it and it went out the other way and the big guys were smacking the ball up in the air in case one of the guys was trying to grab it and that buzzer sounded off and we were straight to win it.

Q.  How much were you able to enjoy the win?  It was a great come back but after everybody started celebrating you started shaking your head because you missed the free throw it looked like.
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  I'm happy because we won but I'm so much of a competitor I'm upset that I missed the free throw.  I'm upset I put my teammates in that position.  I understand it's over with and we went in the locker room and guys was hugging and I was definitely happy we won but I'm so passionate about the game I just hate missing free throws, I hate turnovers, it's who I am.  I'm definitely happy we won the game.

Q.  Coach, I know he's been professional and complimentary of you but I'm curious how badly you want to beat Rick Pitino going back to what happened at the Celtics.
COACH OLLIE:  I really don't care about the Celtics.  Rick‑‑ actually I grew so much with Rick that summer, so I became a better point guard with him and he came to the decision where he had to let me go but when you have a set‑back like that it just gets you ready for another opportunity.  It's nothing against Rick, I love Rick to death.  He's a Hall of Fame coach, he's a great coach, a good friend of mine and I could learn a lot from Rick Pitino.

Q.  DeAndre, we have seen you guys grind out these wins and it's been sustained throughout the year.  What do you think it says about you guys that you have been able to do that consistently now into March?
DeANDREA DANIELS:  Like you said we have been through it all season and we always have fight and we never give up.  Everybody has heart on this team and when it comes down to the end I put the bet on our team.

Q.  Shabazz, when you made the surge to take the lead by 8 what changed offensively that allowed you guys to get goin'?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  Coach telling guys keep the team, move the balls when they were gettin' tired and crackin'.  In the beginning we didn't move the ball as much as we should have but after that we was able to do so and DeAndre was able to get mis‑matches and Amida was able to get the ball in the paint because we was penetrating off of passes.  We ended up sharing the ball more and that's what Coach said, we gotta share the game more and we ended up doing that and we started scoring.  He's the brains of this.

Q.  Shabazz, are you ready for your match‑up with Russ Smith?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  I'm ready to play Louisville, I don't see no match‑up between me and him, I'm not here to play a one‑on‑one game, it's a five‑on‑five game, so I'm ready to play Louisville.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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