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March 15, 2014

DeAndre Daniels

Shabazz Napier

Kevin Ollie


Louisville - 71
UConn - 61

THE MODERATOR:  We can get started with UConn, head coach, Kevin Ollie, student athletes Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels.  Coach?
COACH OLLIE:  The first half we came out and established ourselves, we got down about 14 and anytime you spot a team like Louisville 14 points it's hard to come back.  We did some good things in the second half.  I was proud of our guys that we kept fighting.  Now we go into the next tournament.  We want to win a national championship.  I still believe in this team, we got to clean things up but I like our execution in the second half and we got to show heart and compete and that's what I like and hopefully it carries over to the NCAA Tournament.

Q.  Shabazz, seemed like you had a difficult time doing what getting things done on offense, was it just that you couldn't find your rhythm?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  The first half we didn't play as well as we should have, we didn't move the ball the right way, we didn't knock down open shots.  We just didn't find our rhythm.
They did play great defense but once we got into the middle, guys were open for shots and we couldn't knock 'em down and we gave up too much offensive rebounds in the beginning of the game.  It took away from our offense.

Q.  Shabazz, you guys went 3‑0 against Memphis, Louisville went 3‑0 against you, all of the teams that have been ranked, what do you make of that?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  Just competitive games.  Sometimes it goes that way.  The saying is you can't beat a team three times in a row but at the end of the day it's anybody's game.  It's a new day.  They came out and established what they were doing and we wasn't able to do what we wanted to do offensively and defensively, but credit to Louisville they played great.

Q.  Kevin, I know you're not into moral victories, but playing so much better than you did a week ago.  You take some positives out of that obviously and you didn't let it get away from you like it did last week?
COACH OLLIE:  No, I'm not into moral victories, but I did like how we responded the second half, just with the ball movement we had, getting Amida going, he had 14 points, most of them came in the second half.  He started to establish himself.  That's how you beat the zone, you get it at the high post and you make plays.  Our guards started passing it in there and we started making shots.  That's what we're going to need to do going forward so we will be able to play with a match‑up zone.  You never know what's going to happen in the NCAA Tournament.  Every coach comes with something new.  I thought our ballwas great and we started making shoots.  We got 10 assists.  Six in the second half, we got four in the first half, and that's improvement.  We're going to go back and see who we going to play on Sunday.  Then my coaching staff is going to have a great game plan and I know our guys are going to follow it and we're going to go deep into this tournament.  That's our goal.

Q.  What was the difference between last week and today?
COACH OLLIE:  They won the game.  If you win by 10 or lose by‑‑ you win the game.  Wasn't no difference.  We had that game by 7 at Louisville and didn't get it done.  It's a game of runs.  We try to keep them at bay as much as possible but at the end of the day you gotta rebound and can't give up 16 offensive rebounds and expect to win.  I thought our defense was great in the second half where we held them down to 32% and shot 50%.  That's something we are going to look at on the tape and try to keep improving.  I liked the ball movement and the competitive spirit.  We could have gave in, but this team is not like that.  We fought all year and I think they're going to fight in the NCAA Tournament.  I'm proud of them.  We didn't come down here just to win a semifinals game.  We came down here to win a championship.  It didn't happen but I think our guys gave it their all and they play with their hearts and that's all I ask of these guys each and every day.

Q.  Kevin, anything can happen over the next few weeks, I know you're only concerned about your own team but does it seem like Louisville is playing better than anyone else in the country at this point?
COACH OLLIE:  Yeah, Louisville is playing great basketball.  They won the championship last year, they went to the Final Four the year before, and they got pretty much their whole team back.  They're an experienced bunch, they play hard and they're well coached.  But you know how this tournament is one game elimination, somebody can get hot and hopefully that team will be us and we will get hot and play together.

Q.  How do you guys feel heading into Selection Sunday and the tournament about how you're playing?
DeANDREA DANIELS:  Well, we feel good just coming in, how we battled this the second half.  We played the right way and shared the ball and we played UConn basketball.  It's time to put it behind and you say move forward and prepare for the NCAA Tournament.

Q.  Shabazz, do you think you guys got better from a week ago to‑‑ through the three games this week?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  Yeah, I think there is always room for improvement.  After you lose by 30 points you got to look at yourself and figure out how can you help the team.  I think we definitely played well against Memphis and we played well against a Cincinnati team but definitely we're improving as a team and we just got to get over that hump.  Once we do, I think we should be fine.

Q.  Shabazz, after not being allowed to play in the NCAA Tournament or any postseason last season, how much have you been look forward to Selection Sunday and seeing UConn on television tomorrow night?
SHABAZZ NAPIER:  I really haven't had time to look for it.  Now I do since I'm‑‑ tomorrow is Sunday, but I'm definitely happy.  It's a great thing to hopefully see your name being called and with your teammates and see everybody smiling and knowing that we have a chance at hoisting another trophy, but I haven't thought about it because I was thinking about the games ahead of myself.  Now since we just finished this one, you know, we have time to look at it.

Q.  Coach, on your roster you have four players that were not born in the United States and one that's with Puerto Rican descent.  Do you look for players that are maybe overlooked in other teams?
COACH OLLIE:  You know, I look at basketball players.  I don't really care about their descent, I want them to play for UConn and play with pride and bleed Husky blue.  Really doesn't matter to me as long as they play hard and defend well, I don't care where they come from.  We do look at first and foremost character and we look at guys that understand team work and we look for guys that don't mind rooting for their teammates.
After that, you know, we let their talent speak for themselves.  But they gotta play the right way.  If they are not playing the right way, they're not going to play and we're going to get somebody else.

Q.  Kevin, this is the last time you will play Louisville for the foreseeable future.  Are you disappointed?  Would you like another shot at them?  They have had your number a little bit lately.
COACH OLLIE:  I just play who is on the schedule.  We would have liked to have won this championship game but if Memphis was in the championship game, don't matter to me.  I just make sure we worry about us and that's our main goal.  I wish them the best of luck in the ACC and this American conference is going to be great.  I like what Tulsa is doing, they made it into the NCAA Tournament and congratulations to Danny Manning and this conference is going to be great.  We are going to continue to hopefully be at the top of this league and keep it going.  We are just going to play the right way and hopefully have everybody come in and do the same thing and make this league very viable, but I like what Memphis is doing and SMU is doing and this conference is going to be great.
THE MODERATOR:  Guys, we appreciate your time.  Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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