Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kevin Ollie: 'UConn is the Only Brotherhood I Know"

Not even sure where to start here. An emotional, and very fitting, end to UConn's season -- as well as its long, often dominant run in the Big East. Here's the game story, and here's the notebook, which touches on Shabazz Napier's return, the draft possibilities of Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, R.J. Evans' emotional pregame speech and Warde Manuel's announcement that there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for UConn's new practice facility on April 16. The facility should be completed in about 14 months, or around May, 2014.

Here's what Kevin Ollie and the players had to say after the game:

OLLIE:


“Everybody was crying, because it came from the heart. He’s been here one year, but he’s always going to have a special place. He’s a UConn family for life.”

(on whether Shabazz Napier will go pro)

“I’ll just give him feedback. I know a lot of GM’s, a lot of people up there. I’ll just get feedback. Of course he’s going to have to make a deision and live with it, and whatever decision he makes, I’ll support it. But, I’m going to give him feedback and we’ll go from there. Hopefully, he makes the right decision in his heart. We’d love him coming back, but if he goes to the NBA and plays well, that’s good publicity for us, too. Either way, it’s going to be fine.”

(who else may go pro?)

“Shabazz – Ryan, maybe DeAndre, who knows? I know they’re going to be players that provide a spark for us if they come back. And if they don’t, we’re going to make adjustments and keep plugging like we always do.”

(on UConn)

“UConn is the only brotherhood I know. Now, they’re a part of something special. It’s a special brotherhood, and we just showed it again.”

(on the end of UConn’s affiliation with the Big East)

“Change happens. Now, you’ve got to change your approach. We’ve got to have the same recipe that allowed us to win championships. Our recipe’s not gonna change, but we’ve got to change our approach as a coaching staff, as a university. But, the same things are going to be here – the pride, the tradition, the dominance. I’m just so glad I

DEANDRE DANIELS:

(on whether he’s thinking of going pro)

I haven’t really thought about it. I’m still just taking this in and still kinda sad that this season has been shortened.

(on when he knew Shabazz Napier would play on Saturday)

I had a feeling about it that he was going to play, after the South Florida game, that he was going to play, because I know Bazz and he’s a competitor. We were shooting around, and we came back in the locker room to get dressed and he’s in there with his shoes on. Then we went back in and he had his uniform on, and we were all happy.

RYAN BOATRIGHT

(on next season)

“If everybody comes back, it’ll definitely be a special team, if we come back and work the way we did in the offseason and play together like we did this year.

(on whether he’ll turn pro)

Me and Bazz have decisions to make. We’re gonna talk about it – our families, friends, coaching staff – we’re probably gonna talk to each other.

(on coming up clutch in OT)

“I’ve been put in those situations throughout my whole life. Coming here and playing with a great player like Shabazz, sometimes you’ve just got to take a backseat. Today was my time to shine and take over.”

(on his game-winning shot)

“I tried to get the separation that I needed, to get the lift. That’s what initiated the foul, I got up in his chest. Once I got the separation, I put it up with all the confidence in the world. And it went in.”

RJ EVANS:



SHABAZZ NAPIER

(on missing last two games)

“Watching those last two games just broke me down. I wanted to play so bad. Mentally, I was ready to play, but physically I wasn’t.”

(on when he knew he could play on Saturday)

I decided I was mentally ready, but I wasn’t going to push myself unless I was physically ready. I think there were 35 minutes left on the clock and I came back in and just suited up. I’m always mentally ready to play, but if I’m not there ready physically, I’m not going to push myself.”

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