Saturday, March 1, 2014

Shabazz Napier: 'You Know What, This is My Last Shot at the XL Center'

It was the lowest point total for UConn in a win since a 46-40 victory over Villanova on Feb. 11, 2002, and the lowest combined point total in a Husky game since ... yup, the national title win over Butler in 2011.

But it's officially March, and a win is a win is a win ... And, in truth, both teams were very tough defensively -- particularly UConn.

Plus, now Ryan Boatright can watch ESPN again.

Some quotes and video:

Shabazz Napier:

“It feels good to get a win against Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s always a rivalry with us. It always comes down to the wire. It’s always good to play them and get a win against them.”

(on his matchup against Sean Kilpatrick, who turned the ball over seven times and had just two second-half points)

“Only time I worry about him is if we need to get a stop. I’m not worried about his stats and my stats. I’ve never been a stats guy. I’m just concerned with trying to get wins. I think that’s what I did today.”

Napier said it hit him really hit him in the waning seconds that he had just played his final game in Hartford:

He added he'll be even more emotional for Wednesday night's Senior Night:

“I’ll definitely feel that way Wednesday. Like I always say, we just take it game by game. I don’t really think about things until they actually occur. Hopefully, we do what we have to do against Rutgers and go from there.”

“I probably am, but hopefully I keep it all together. I don’t think I can play basketball crying.”

Added Kevin Ollie: “There’s going to be a lot of tears, and I’ll probably be boo-hooing, too.”


“It’s just another game for us. I thought the USF game was even more important. Now Cincinnati is a great team and we beat them, but that USF game showed me a lot of mental toughness from our guys, where we could’ve easily given up in that game. And we didn’t.”

“It’s a big game from a ranking standpoint and all this other stuff – the brackets and seeding, and all that other stuff. But I couldn’t really care less. I care about my team, and getting better. And defensively, I think we got a lot better.”

(on whether Mick Cronin should've been T'd up for his sideline antics)

“I got spanked on mine. I’d better not make a comment on that. I was thrown out, so, this year, I don’t have a comment on that. I’m going to leave the refs alone.”

Ryan Boatright was willing to comment, however: “I’ve seen him blow up a few times over my three years. Everybody knows that he’s a feisty dude. I was surprised the refs didn’t tech him, though. He was doing a lot of stomping, cussing and yelling. I was on the bench, I didn’t really hear what he said.”

*** After the game, Ollie made a point to highlight how tough a schedule his players have, with four games in the past 10 days and frequently getting back to campus at 2:30 a.m. only to have an 8 a.m. class the next day.

“These guys are student-athletes, too," Ollie pointed out.

Said Napier on the matter: “It’s been so tough. I’m thankful for my professors for understanding, sometimes I may get to class real late, maybe not as participating as much as I usually do. It’s tough. Sometimes, I don’t know how I do it. I get home at 2:30 a.m., I’ve got class at 8 a.m. Sometimes, I don’t understand how I get up. But, you’re given these cards for a reason. Whether you wake yourself up or not, you’ve just got to deal with it and understand you’re in this position for a reason.”

*** Ollie's voice was still hoarse after losing his voice Wednesday night at South Florida.

“I couldn’t yell today, so I had ‘Bazz yelling for me," the coach said. 

Said Napier: “He told us he didn’t want to yell too much today. I just tried my best to be a leader.”

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