Saturday, February 15, 2014

UConn-Memphis: We Could Get Used to This

Great game. Looks like these two teams could form a nice rivalry for years to come, though as Memphis Josh Pastner noted: “We need to get a win to make it a little more of a rivalry. They’re 2-0 against us. But it’s a high-level basketball game, two high-level teams. I think it’ll be fun for the future to keep having high-level games like this.”

No doubt, we could get used to this. As for UConn's 86-81 overtime win on Saturday, Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were clutch and terrific. But the Huskies likely don't win without Phil Nolan.

Here are some postgame quotes:


(on the fact that Memphis was whistled for 23 fouls to UConn's 12, and UConn shot 36 free throws to the Tigers' nine)

(on the AAC)

“The league is really good. I said it from the beginning that we should have six teams in. Obviously now, there’s no question we should have five in. You look at our top five, I think our five is the best of any out there in the country. I really believe that. But our league from top to bottom is very good. Rutgers, Houston, South Florida, Central Florida, Temple – they’re very good teams. They’re better than their records. This is a great league. Obviously, Mr. Aresco does an unbelievable job and Paul Brazeau, so we’re very grateful and fortunate to be in the league and for the exposure we get with the TV package. That’s been terrific for the program.”


(on stepping up and hitting a big 3-pointer in OT, despite recent shooting slump)

(on becoming 48th player in UConn history to score 1,000 career points)

“Just an honor, man. Coach Cal and KO gave me the opportunity to come in here and play for this great university. Every time I put that jersey on, I just try to give it my all every time. It’s a blessing to be able to score 1,000 points at this wonderful university.”


(on the scrum on the floor at the end of regulation in which things got chippy, no fouls were called and Memphis lost possession on a shot-clock violation)

(David) Pellom was on the floor, I felt like he was kicking. Myself, I wouldn’t want one of my teammates getting kicked, on accident or on purpose. I was doing my best to get him up, and he kind of got a hand in. Their teammates came in … it was really nothing big, but they kind of made it big. I wasn’t too worried about it. I wasn’t going to throw any (punches) at anybody. I was just trying to get him off my big man so he wouldn’t get hurt.”

“It was definitely good that we got in a little scrum. Coach got a minute to draw up a good play. The refs had to figure out what the time was, and coach took a little time out and figured out what we were going to do.”

(on his missed 3-pointer that went in and out at the end of regulation)

“I thought it was going in. I thought I came off the pick, Phil (Nolan) set a second one. I got an open space, it just was one of those shots that’s called toilet flush. It didn’t go in, it just clogged up and came back out. It happens.”

(Napier wasn't injured when he sat out for a long span late in the first half. He did, however, grab at his back at one point early in the latter half)

“I shot the ball and I kind of got a stinger in my back. I came down awkward. But it went away.”

(on future rivalry with Memphis)

“Definitely. Memphis is definitely a great talent. They have been since the (John) Calipari days. They’ve got a great program, a great group of players that are going to go there. And Connecticut is one of the top-five programs in the country. It’s going to be a tough rivalry for years to come.”

“I think Cincinnati’s a rivalry, they’ve been there in the Big East, it always comes down to the crunch. Memphis is a godo team. It’s a new league, of course there’s (few) rivalries. But this league has a lot of new rivalries that are gonna happen. Just like the ACC – Syracuse is at the top of the chain right now, somebody has to be a rivalry with them. We’re getting to know each other, and hopefully we’ll find some rivalries.”

(on his relationship with Boatright)

“When we first got here, it was tough. We weren’t working hand-in-hand. But as last season went on, this season went on, we became much closer. The chemistry got much better. Nothing’s perfect, we continue to work on it. We have a brotherhood here. We believe we’re brothers. We don’t have the same blood, but we’re close enough.”

(on Phil Nolan's big offensive rebound to set up his game-tying 3-point play)

“Phillip definitely came in and took care of his minutes. He definitely played Shaq the best (he could), and was getting me open on a lot of picks. He’s definitely one of our best pick-and-roll defenders. He high-hedges really well, and he likes to talk all the time. Today, he definitely did a good job. We continue to need that from him, no matter if he’s not there offensively. When we gave him the ball, he did his best, and he had a couple of layups that he got fouled on and just continued to work.”


(on Boatright)

"He might not be shooting well, but I can never question his heart and his effort and his enthusiasm to win ... We’re not going to agree on everything, him and Bazz – we go at it sometimes. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a team. But at the end of the day, you want to win as brothers. Ryan has one of the biggest hearts I've ever been around."

He added that UConn cancelled practice the other day due to the snowstorm, but every player came to Gampel to get up shots.

(on the scrum, and Nolan's big offensive rebound)

“I don’t even know what scramble you’re talking about. I liked the offensive rebound. Shabazz shot a shot, Phil went to go get the basketball. We got outrebounded, but that was the biggest rebound of all."

(on Napier's shot at end of regulation)

“Phil set a great screen for Bazz to get open. The ball went in and out. That’s all Phil, getting him open. Shabazz will be the first one to say that. It’s not all about Shabazz, it’s not all about Ryan. It’s a team effort. Whoever played in the game came in and did their part.”

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