Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Huskies Meet the Media ... Again

Gotta admit, when we walked out of Gampel Pavilion on March 7, the day before the Big East tournament, I figured the only way I'd be back in the arena before summertime was if UConn had lost to DePaul in its BET opener and somehow had been relegated to the NIT. (And yes, I know, that wasn't going to happen).

Anyway, we were back this afternoon as the Huskies met with the media for a good 2 1/2 hours before their practice. They'll fly out tomorrow and land at Houston's Hobby Airport around 7 p.m. local time.

Here are some notes 'n quotes from earlier today:

KEMBA WALKER:

On recalling the first time he walked into Gampel as a recruit and saw the Huskies' "Wall of Fame" in the hallway.


"I told myself, ‘One day I want to be on that wall.’ And one day I will be on that wall.”

Will he even bother to watch the game tape of UConn's win over a very different Kentucky team in the Maui Invitational in November?

"Of course. We’ll definitely look at some of that. I played fairly well that game, so I’ll see what I did, what I was able to do against those guys. I’m pretty sure they’ll watch film of that game, also, and make some corrections."

On if he ever thinks about how things would be different at UConn had Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb decided to become Huskies, rather than Wildcats:

“No. Honestly, I definitely would have loved to have those two guys, but I’m fine with the guys I have, honestly. It really didn’t matter, to tell you the truth. I’m glad we got the guys we got. I don’t know how coachable those guys are – I’m not saying they’re not, but I don’t know. But the guys we have are very coachable, they listen to me, they listen to Donnell, and they always come willing to learn new things. I’m fine with the guys we have."

On the UConn women:

"Best team in the country, in my opinion. They work extremely hard, every day. There was a point where they didn’t lose, until they lost to Stanford, but you would have thought they had lost 80 games in a row the way they practice every day.

For us to have two teams in (the Final Four) again would be pretty impressive. Hopefully, we can both bring it back home."

On his favorite current course, Racism in Sports:

"We're reading a book right now called '$40 Million Slaves' by William C. Rhoden. It talks a lot about basketball players, LeBron James, the recruiting process -- a lot of different things over the years. It's a pretty good book. It's helping me realize the world I'm probably going to get into."

He’s definitely been pretty impressive to watch this tournament. You could just see the development he had throughout this season. He’s been a great leader for his team. Something like me, a little bit, because you can tell he wants to take the last shot. When he takes it, he’s taking it to make it, and that’s what he’s been doing so far.

ALEX ORIAKHI:

On playing against fellow Boston-area native Shabazz Napier back in the day:

"I remember seeing him in AAU tournaments in 6th, 7th grade. I've known since 8th, 9th grade. I played against him in some little tournament in Boston. He killed us, we lost. But he got every call. He got every call!"


GEORGE BLANEY
on John Calipari:

"You always had to ask coaches to do things for charities and different coaching events. You’d be surprised about who does things and who doesn’t do things. John would always do what we asked him to do."

JIM CALHOUN

On not getting Knight or Doron Lamb:

"I'm very happy with the guys we got. We didn't get Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb. Well, we got Jeremy Lamb, who's been real special already but is going to be very special, and we got Shabazz. he reminds me of that every day, actually."

On the Final Four two years ago in Detroit:

"It wasn't typical of a Final Four. When we were in San Antonio, we were riding boats on the canal. When we were in St. Petersburg, we went to see Sammy Sosa and the Cubs play. In Detroit, we went from the gym to the hotel. I think it's going to be a little different (in Houston), and that's no knock on Detroit whatsoever ... I’m for warm weather, it has nothing to do with Detroit. I wouldn’t want it in Hartford. We need warm weather – bad."

On if he's thought about perhaps riding off into the sunset after this run:

"If we win the national championship, standing at the podium would be a bad time to make any decision. And if things don’t go well, it would be a lousy time to make a decision. I mean, this has been fun."

JAMAL COOMBS-MCDANIEL


Said he had an MRI on his left knee yesterday that revealed "ligament issues." He may need surgery once the season is over, but until then he'll keep playing through the pain.


SHABAZZ NAPIER


On how Kentucky is different now than it was in Maui:

“Brandon Knight is a better point guard, Doron Lamb is a better shooter now. He knows his spots, where to shoot at. We’ve got to watch him, especially on transition, seeing that his favorite spot’s the corner. Harralson is tough now, you see how well he played against Jared Sullinger. Liggins, the veteran guys, they’re all stepping up now. It’s more of a team. Usually, before, it was just the freshmen doing something, and the older guys letting them do it. Now, it’s all of them combined, and that’s dangerous for us. Now, if you try to stop one person, they have four others, unlike (how) it was in Maui."

"We’re leaving that game behind us. I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be a 17-point game. We’re not going to win by 17, and hopefully we don’t lose by 17. It’s going to be a hard-fought game."

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