COACH BOEHEIM: Both teams struggled shooting the ball, and both teams are very good defensively. We couldn't really get anything going offensively, and then we changed something just a little bit. Got a little bit more space. Kris got a couple penetrations and got to the foul line, and then we made a couple good we got James open a couple times. He's a tremendous shooter. That's James Southerland over there.
He can make those shots, and he made them early in the year. He struggled a little bit during the week, but he's been making them in practice. He looked good the last game, made a big one, and we think he can make those shots and be a factor for us, a big factor for us the rest of the way. So it was good for him to get those looks.
Our guys are very unselfish. They found him in there and got him the ball.
We were really good with the ball today. Didn't turn it over. That's been the strength of our team all year. We make up for not doing a great job rebounding with doing a great job taking care of the basketball. But Connecticut is very, very good. When they had the lead, eight or nine points, they were in great position, and I thought our guys just dug down on defense, played a little bit harder and got going on offense. It was a great comeback. It's very difficult to play a team like Connecticut. They've had a couple games. They're loose. I hate sitting around all week, and it's very difficult. I'm glad that we were able to get a win. We haven't played that many games and we need to play again. Tomorrow's game will help us, but this was a tremendous comeback. This team has been very good down the stretch all year, and that was the case today.
Q. After you hit that second three, can you talk about what were the emotions, the Garden was going wild?
JAMES SOUTHERLAND: It felt really great out there, especially being at home and all. I missed my first two shots. The first one I felt was good, the second one was kind of rushed. It's good my teammates are here for me, they're not giving up on me just because I missed two shots, and it feels good. It was a great atmosphere.
Q. What does it say about this team's depth that he takes that wild three pointer?
COACH BOEHEIM: I didn't think he took a wild three pointer. He took a good job, but he wasn't having a great day. Dion was having a great day and Brandon was having a great day. So it was just a matter of going with the two guys that were playing better, and some games it's been those two, some games it's been Scoop and one of them. But today Scoop wasn't making shots, and I thought that the two best offensive guards we had were those two guys. I thought Michael Carter had a great first half. He made three great passes, and I thought Rakeem, we're using him coming in at center. He was huge in the first half. He made a couple blocks and I think had four or five rebounds in about eight minutes. I thought he was really good, and I think this was a good game for him and gave us another guy in that center position. I thought he was very good today.
Q. For James and Jim, can you take us through James' journey as a freshman to now being an impact player for the Orange?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, I think James is a very, very good offensive player, and I think he hasn't scratched his potential. He's getting better every day. He's got to help us more on the boards, but he's a tremendous shooter.
Q. You've played this team so many times, particularly during this time of year. What were you most concerned with?
COACH BOEHEIM: With Connecticut?
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, they have three guys that can shoot it and their guards are very good off the dribble. Drummond is a big presence on the boards. We left the middle open a little bit and gambled on those guys in there, and they didn't they weren't very productive in that area.
I think Connecticut is a really good team. I would be shocked if they don't win two games in the NCAA Tournament at the minimum. At the minimum.
Q. Can you talk about the third time going up against this team?
KRIS JOSEPH: Yeah, offensively I wasn't really making any shots in the second half after making an adjustment and just driving to the basket, him being a smaller player, and just trying to create other opportunities for my teammates and for myself. I got fouled a couple times. A couple times I drove, and the defense conversion, I found Dion, I found Brandon, and those are the types of plays I need to make down the stretch.
Q. With the NCAA situation, were you aware or have you been aware what's been going on with the drug testing?
COACH BOEHEIM: This was reported five years ago, and we're waiting for them to make finish the process.
Q. You got a report of it five years ago?
COACH BOEHEIM: Uh huh.
Q. You say you hate sitting around all week waiting for a game to start, and particularly a week like this with the news
COACH BOEHEIM: Well, first of all, news doesn't matter. This is a media this is you people's thing. This doesn't bother our players or our team or me. None of this. This is a media thing, period. If things were bothering us we wouldn't be 31 and 1. Nothing bothers us. We come ready to play. That's what you should do in life. Everybody gets bothered. Everybody has problems. I'm much more concerned about my wife being mad at me than I am anything else, to tell you the truth.
I think that Manning should really come to the Jets, too (laughter).
Q. (No microphone).
KRIS JOSEPH: No, it was my other hand. It wasn't my shooting hand, so that had no effect on me.
COACH BOEHEIM: You can't shoot that bad unless you're hurt, can you? (Laughter).
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
COACH CALHOUN: Well, obviously congratulations. What Jim has done this year, you can make an argument between them and Kentucky as the best teams in the country. They certainly have a great many answers, terrific athletes. In the end and the end could have been any end, minute to go, two minutes to go. It's not really important. The key thing is they had guys that could make plays on their own and get to the rim and do some pretty good things.
I love Jim Boeheim like a brother, and through everything else, and I've told people this through the whole year, including other things that have gone on, he's done an incredible job coaching his team and being unselfish and giving to each other, and they're just a terrific basketball team capable in my opinion of winning a national championship.
But that's the team that Jim coaches, and I'm happy for him. I'm really, really anguished in many, many ways because when I arrived last Friday in the gym, not knowing after four weeks what was going to happen, little did I know that I'd find a new team. Not that we were bad or anything else before, but just our who we were and what we were was different.
That continued all the way to the tip in by Andre or steal by Bazz or whoever it may be, and this is a good basketball team. That's the great thing about it, too, really good basketball team. If they aren't one of the two or three best teams in the country, and I say one, two, we're pretty good. And we fought, and we're capable of playing better. What I've watched over the three game win streak, I know you can't use that anymore because we always like to use the two, three, four game losing streak, just a thing we have in Connecticut, we like losing streaks, not everybody, some guys get fixated on that. But more importantly, the three game win streak, and more importantly how they did it, kind of how you guys did it made me so proud.
And the anguish I feel is disappointment for them. They were primed mentally today to do something very special and almost pulled it off. It's a funny game because things happen to us. Things happened to West Virginia yesterday for us and things happened to Syracuse today, and that's what basketball is about. But no one can tell you that it wasn't a good team who was wearing blue today. Did we shoot great, no, did we make great decisions, no, did we play with great heart and great intensity and did we play for us and each other, without a doubt, and I couldn't be prouder of them. I've sat here, as you guys know, 26 years of BIG EAST tournaments and sitting a lot of other places, and I couldn't be prouder of my basketball team. And it says a lot of something to them, and I said this yesterday that went through the season, a whole bunch of different things. For them to show up on Friday and give me seven days, as I said, a lot of pride. If we lost that game yesterday, I would have had pride, too. But to pull it off yesterday, and quite frankly, a play or two today from pulling it off, an incredible win. I love these guys and I love the way they play and I love the way they care about it.
I'm not talking about the technical things. They weren't pretty. But yesterday we didn't rebound. You can check the stats sheet if you want. We were going to rebound today. Did we have a hard practice to do that, no, we just kind of all collaborated on it last night.
I think emotional I told you last year during the five game win streak or other times during win streaks, fatigue is the most over written about thing in sports. Mental fatigue, though, I felt we had a little bit at the end. Emotionally, we've been through seven and we're going back to Friday. Saturday's game against Pittsburgh was very emotional and traveling Monday and playing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and they stood up to it all. We came up a little bit short. Once again, I love them and I'm proud of them.
Q. What did you not do as well the last eight, ten minutes that you had been doing well offensively?
COACH CALHOUN: Well, it was eight, ten minutes, I thought we were leading still during that time. But they found Jeremy, as they had most of the game. I thought when we got the ball into the center of the zone, which we did a magnificent job the entire game, we didn't make plays in there.
Secondly, we tried to use a couple different offensive plays, they did a very poor job down on the other end, so we're stuck in between now. Do we play Alex for defense or do we play someone else for offense. We got bad on both ends, quite frankly. We didn't get the offense I thought we really could have got because when you get that ball to the center we were really good. That's the best one of the best times I've seen us with that zone. We actually had a whole bunch of we made one of our first ten shots, eight of them were good shots. So we were well prepared mentally and ready to go.
I just think they tightened up. That's 31 wins. When you went 31 wins, and we've had teams that went up to 34, 35 wins, and when you start winning a lot, you can feel a sense of tightness, and they're just tight. Ball comes spinning out of the rim. I'm saying those kind of things, not the official's fault. I'm saying those are the differences in games. If you thought the game was going to come down to Syracuse running away, unless it was five minutes of the game, I didn't think so. I thought they'd make it hard for us. That's when they had a couple plays and we didn't. I think you could probably play that back and find you could make an easy way for Connecticut to win that game, just the way it played out.
Q. Do you feel like you've done enough to make the NCAA Tournament?
COACH CALHOUN: Well, let's see: 22 out of our games played against top 100 competition. That's not a very good schedule, but they say it's number one in the country. We had ten wins against top 100 teams. So I heard the coach of Iona saying don't put one of these BIG EAST teams in? We've played four teams in the top 100. I'm sure he is a great coach and I have a lot of respect for what he's done certainly. But you've got to kind of tighten those laces up. 22 times? This team you just saw, three times, okay, Notre Dame twice, I can keep on going, Florida State. We probably have as many quality wins for anybody in our position, and I just think when you start to look at how many teams have done what we've done. Are teams at the one, two, three, four spots, certainly they have. A lot of them haven't played against the kind of fault competition we have. I am not going to make a pitch for it. I trust the basketball committee and there's no doubt in my mind that they will look at it, and if what they say is true, we want you to play good people, I think 22 out of 32 top 100 teams is probably a pretty good schedule.
Oh, by the way, that doesn't include Asheville, who's 104, and I can keep on going with other teams. I remember early in the season, UConn playing poor schedule. Who's poor? Florida State? I just went through the teams they said we weren't playing, and then I looked at what John and the people in the BIG EAST who were so kind to give us Syracuse twice. We'll send you to USF. That's always an easy one. You know the point we make it in the summer based on objectives, that's part of the game. Jim Boeheim and I had a long talk a number of years ago upset about TV games.
The league said, but you get a chance to play TV games. I said, yeah, and I'm playing against Kansas and I'm playing against his point being simply because we were picked first, because we won a national championship last year, which we still have, and we're not defending it, and we were placed in a position. But I don't think he would tell you that they expected Seton Hall to be a bear. They probably didn't expect Notre Dame to be one of the top four teams in our league and we only had to play them three times. I don't know what else we have to prove that we're probably one of the top 30 teams in the country, but we're certainly not one of the top 10, 20, but we're one of the top 30 teams in the country. I don't make those decisions, but I know who we are. I know what we are. I've seen who we've beaten.
I can't do anything to control that. I only can tell you that there's enough people that can crunch numbers that it's difficult I was a coach at Northeastern for 14 years. I know how hard it is to get there if you can't get quality opponents to play, so I understand that the coach at Iona has a great team and a great player. He's done a tremendous job there. But when you're going to go 22 times, you want to change our record, take about six of those out and now we get 26 wins. So that's what you and by the way, I think we all would agree, the collective beating down I remember having Georgetown a couple years ago, five in a row, I remember having seen Notre Dame a couple years ago, we almost could get beat down but didn't get beat down, we stayed alive. And down the stretch, Pittsburgh is always tough for us, DePaul game, I don't think we did anything to hurt us. I think if anybody wants to see how they do against a number 1 seed, most people would probably want I don't know if you'd want to see that game because it wouldn't be the prettiest in the world, but if you want to see two teams go to battle, that would be a battle of a game.
And I won't say anything more about it because I can't do anything about it. I'm just proud of these guys. These guys are one of the top 30, 35 teams in the country, and they belong.
Q. Shabazz, the last couple days in terms of being a leader you were really encouraging the guys. Do you think your leadership has improved or changed the last couple days in the way the team views you or your impact in that area?
SHABAZZ NAPIER: I just think the guys, like coach said, the last few weeks he's seen a change in me. I just seen a change in the guys. Everybody is really into each other. The chemistry is there. I think we got that edge that we was missing. You know, and we're just starting to have a lot of fun. A lot of basketball teams, they lose, and the reason why they lose is because they're not having a lot of fun out there. We win, we have fun, and it's hard to have fun when you lose. But if you see out there, we're smiling, we're enjoying the time out there because we all know we're blessed to be in the situation we're in, and I just think that my leadership may have rised, but at the same time, our team just became more into each other, more chemistry, and we turned the corner, and we're just a happy team now.
COACH CALHOUN: Just one perspective from someone inside outside, four weeks away, I think what happened, it isn't just Shabazz, it's the team and Shabazz and everybody. Shabazz' main concern recently, because he said to me, is getting Jeremy points, and that's what he does. This guy has been great all year.
But the thing is to make sure this guy gets points, make sure different people get things, and it's not always easy. Quite frankly, he'll tell you and they'll both tell you, it's not easy following a great, great player because no matter what he did it was great. It wasn't always great, trust it. He was an incredible kid, incredible player, but it wasn't perfect. But these two guys have helped so much bond this basketball team.
Q. You touched on rebounding, and you had 18 offensive rebounds today. Can you talk about the shift from yesterday, the mindset?
COACH CALHOUN: I don't like to use the word in basketball embarrassed, but I was embarrassed yesterday because during the 40 years that I've coached, I've never gone through a college basketball season we're plus 4, I think, for the season, being out rebounded. The only other time we were out rebounded as badly as we were is when a guy named Alonzo and another guy named Mutombo. The next time we play them we'll out rebound them. So what happened yesterday was the only reason that we could have lost that game. So we appealed to them, no practice or nothing, and they responded. And I guess that's kind of the overall thing I'm telling you, because sometimes when you're going through things, you're not hearing anything. Everything we say to each other right now, we're hearing each other. We're hearing each other.
Q. How big was it for Andre today playing really well on a big stage? Is he really just scratching the surface?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm really glad you asked that question. We were disappointed in him yesterday. The last ten minutes of defense, no question, but I think both Jeremy and Shabazz and I both talked about you've got to go compete, and he's a baby. We're telling you, as big as he may be, he is a baby. He's a wonderful young kid, and I really get into him just privately about all I don't care what he does, he's got to compete, and he competed today. He competed today.
It's another step forward for him. He's got a lot more steps to go, but in order for us to be good, next week, he's got to compete again, because you fall off of here, off the tight rope, you jump back, because you've got more games to play. We go to play more games. Someplace we're going to play more games. With him, you're right, competing the way he did today, we're so much a better basketball team.
Q. Jeremy and Shabazz, could you talk about what the zone did to you in the last two minutes of the game?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm going to tell you what they did. They took their zone, because they had a tough time, and obviously who would you want to shoot the ball? One of these two. So they put the zone in and they were three, four feet beyond the top of the key, and they tried to get our big guys, begging our big guys to come up and relief pressure. They're they can answer the question but they're not going to have much chance to. The point being they went after the two best players and made sure they couldn't shoot the shots. I had the theory and I always have this theory and yesterday we saw a good example of that. When it comes down to game time, and that was game time, four points, you want your best players shooting the ball, unless someone else is wide open, and they didn't get as wide open as you would like them to, and Jimmy, who's coached a few games himself, he just went out and snuffed our two guys out and we didn't it just took us out of what we wanted to do. Do you guys have anything to add?