Feb. 6, 2014
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No. 22 UConn vs. No. 7 Cincinnati
Fifth Third Arena
Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin
"Obviously UConn came to play tonight which is not a surprise, I thought they played well in the first half, I thought they were the more aggressive team they took the game to us from the outset. They were the more physical team definitely for the first 20 minutes and we struggled on offense in the first half and really struggled to convert on the fast break and I thought that really affected our defense. We were demoralized but a lot of that was because we didn't share the ball as well as we needed to early in the game, our passing wasn't what it needed to be. Some guys trying to do a little too much and UConn was loaded up to stop Sean (Kilpatrick) and Justin (Jackson) and we didn't get enough ball reversal. As the game got on, we shared the ball more. We moved the ball better and therefore we shot a much higher percentage in second half and cut down on our turnovers. Against a team like that you're not going to be able to struggle all night offensively and win. I knew we were going to have to play well offensively tonight to beat this team and to be honest holding them to 58 is a tremendous accomplishment. They're a team that can score the ball at a lot of positions."
On if they were really demoralized at halftime:
"No, I thought during the first half when our ineptness on the offensive end was demoralizing our spirit and it affected our defense, and that's why we went down by 10 points."
On how they shook out of being demoralized for the second half:
"I told Titus (Rubles) if he is hanging his head, we got problems. He is our heart and soul. He has to be the guy that gives us toughness, energy and a fearless attitude. It's just a frustration factor when you're not converting on the break and you have wide open layups, three-on-ones and four on ones and you're converting it tends to affect your spirit on the defensive end. You can't let that happen as a coach, you're always trying to talk and tell them your offense can affect your defense but it does. We had to gather ourselves and get our mindset back to grinding the win out. You're not going to play perfect for 40 minutes and you only have to win by one and the only stat that matters is if you win or lose. You don't have to play perfect. It's your ability to win games and this team's ability to get stops in the second half and hold them to 32 percent is the reason why we won. Our ability down the stretch and I don't remember how many field goals they got in the last six or seven minutes is the reason we won."
On if there are any doubts if he thinks Sean Kilpatrick is the Player of the Year:
"Well there is a lot of ball still to be played guys, I think that Sean Kilpatrick should be candidate of the Wooden Award but obviously I am a little biased. I don't think that is even a question. I think if his team wins the conference and at the end of the day, Shabazz (Napier), Russ (Smith) and Sean are the three guys and if we win the league obviously he'll win the award."
On Kilpatrick stepping up his game the last four games:
"The mark of a great player is them rising to the occasion, and he has the ability to do that. He is playing very smart and shooting well from the floor."
On Kilpatrick being efficient from the floor:
"We talk about his professional career and his shot selection is a big thing. I have told professional scouts not to pay attention to his shot selection, because at times I need him to take some tough ones. I also tell them that there is a former Bearcat that used take tough shots too but was a great player, and that is Nick Van Exel. He has a fearless attitude and is a great player."
On having senior leadership guide this team:
"Senior leadership is important. I told these guys that it would be a grind from the beginning, so we just wanted to pull out the win. The win was all that matters, and that's what I'm trying to beat into our heads. The winning streak doesn't matter. All that matters is that we find a way to win. We can't let statistics affect us or individual plays affect us. Right now, we have tremendous focus. Everyone is worried about getting the win more than their own stats. If we stay that way, we will have success. That is the biggest challenge when coaching team sports. It's tough getting everyone focused on winning, which is why I am enjoying this season so much."
On Jermaine Lawrence's first appearance since his injury:
"He gave us some great minutes tonight. It would have been hard for Dave to defend the pick-and-roll, so it would have been a tough matchup for him tonight. He did a good job though. I thought he had a big play for us with a box out late in the game and making big free throws. He played enough minutes to get comfortable out there. He hadn't had any setbacks this week, so it is just a matter of getting him minutes to gain more confidence. He needs to continue to evolve for us, so he can be a factor on the offensive end. He is playing more physical too. I think with sitting out he was able to watch and pick up on the little details. He is a very smart kid, and we are excited to have him back."
On where the team's swagger comes from:
"When your seniors only care about winning it helps. Titus is a guy that only cares about winning and isn't wrapped up in scoring. It's easy to coach when your best players are your hardest workers. It helps set a standard for our team, and we all are just worried about doing whatever it takes to get a win."
#23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On the environment and if it felt different than normal:
"No, we knew that as a team we were on a mission. We really want to get to where we want to go. We have to play like this, we have to be able to beat big teams and know that when we go to their place that it is going to be a tough one. We have SMU Saturday and it is not going to be an easy task. We have to continue to keep taking it day by day."
On the defensive effort in the second half:
"We just got more loose balls and loose rebounds. That was something that was key during half time - which we had to continue to keep trying to get them on the rebounding. If we were able to rebound then we were able to run out. We knew that they were going to try and rebound against us a lot. We just had to get the rebound and go."
On whether the 2-3 zone in the final minute threw UConn off:
"They were really setting up for man play, that is something that a lot of teams set up for because they know that we play a lot of man. Just being able to switch up defenses is good because it throws a lot of teams off. That is a plus to Coach (Cronin) because he threw that in."
On his performance over the past four games:
"I give it to these guys. They are finding ways to find me and I am just doing my job. At a break in the first half, Jack (Justin Jackson) just told me to shoot it. He didn't care where it was from. I have been hearing that from him for the past four years and I don't think it is going to stop."
On the MVP chant from the students:
"I was so locked in trying to make the free throws because I knew I missed two before that. That kind of boggled me a little bit because I usually don't miss at the line. I was able to knock them down. I don't look at myself as an MVP, my whole team is an MVP."
On the emergence of Ge'Lawn Guyn the past few games:
"He has been real tough. G (Ge'Lawn Guyn) has been the point guard that we need right now. He is not putting too much pressure on himself and he is really playing well. Today, he ran the team. That's was something that we needed from him a lot. For him to be the size that he is, I don't know how he made that transition play. For him to just muscle through there - he is a strong kid. He is somebody that is really level-headed and we are really happy with how he is playing right now."
On playing well against Connecticut's Shabazz Napier:
"I am playing to win. I am just playing to win. I don't care about points; I don't care about any of that. Being able to just help my team win and put them in the best situation - that is something that leaders do. Leaders don't go out to compete against the best players and try their hardest to outscore them. Like they (Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles) said, the only score that matters is the final score. You're points don't matter at all."
On Oscar Robertson telling him to shoot throughout the game:
"When Titus was shooting, he (Robertson) kept giving me the signal to shoot. I told him to just relax. We got it, just relax. But it is good to have legends here like he and Pete Rose. Those two guys are class acts."
#2 Titus Rubles, F
On the environment and if it felt different than normal
"That is what we have been hoping for - get the city excited about Cincinnati basketball. We definitely enjoyed that crowd today and that was a big factor in helping us with our energy."
On what Justin Jackson said to him before his final two free throws
"He said `this is life, this is easy. You do this all the time.' I looked at him and said `yeah, you're right' and I knocked them down."
#5 Justin Jackson, F
On the team's experience to come back and win after trailing most of the game
"We had to keep our composure, that's all it is really about. Just keeping our composure, keep grinding and keep maintaining what you are doing. It will come out in the long run. The only score that matters is the final score of the game. The score at the end of the game says we won and that is all that matters to me."
On if the team expects to win
"Every team expects to win when you step on the court. But it is what you are going to do about it. What are you going to do about it on the court? What are you going to do to get that rebound? What are you going to do to get that extra assist? Or anything like that in that nature. You have to grind it out."
On the difficulty of being a top-10 team
"We really don't pay attention to that. I mean, don't get me wrong, being ranked seventh is absolutely great, but at the end of the day you can't make that be who you are. We are just going to do what we do best and we are not going to look at it like `we are the number seven team in the country'. We are going to think about it like we are Cincinnati basketball and we are going to do what we do best."
UConn head coach Kevin Ollie
"Cincinnati came out in the second half and established themselves. Justin Jackson and Kilpatrick took over the game. He had 17 in the second half, 12 rebounds, and six assists. It was a heck of a performance by him. We couldn't get him out of the game. They just took it to us in the second half. They had 34 points in the paint and this is the game. We rebounded with them, but we can't give up 56 percent shooting in the second half. That is what good teams do."
On them running a lot in the second half in terms of fast breaks:
"They ran. They did whatever they wanted to do. Kilpatrick came off of screens, they posted up, we didn't get in front. They did whatever they wanted to do in the second half."
On what made UC's defense so affective in the second half:
"We stopped moving the basketball. We were scoring on every timeout. If you all watch basketball, after every timeout we score. We moved the basketball. It wasn't anything they were doing, we stopped ourselves. We stayed on one side and bailed out for three point shots again. Again."
On Deandre Daniels situation tonight:
"He couldn't go with the back spasms, but next man up. Whoever plays is going to play hard and be in the game, but we can't settle. I thought we settled tonight. We can't settle against a good defensive team like Cincinnati. I give my credit to them because they played hard and they made game winning plays. That is what good teams do. They get stops when they need stops and then Kilpatrick steps up."
On Shabazz struggling shooting the ball tonight:
"We can't settle. When it is a two point game, you have to get to the rim. We can't shoot 30 footers and hopefully he keeps learning. You have to get to the rim and put it on the ref in that situation. You have to make a pass. We had six assists. We have to play with each other. It is a two point game right to the end. I am proud of their effort, but Shabazz going 2-12 from three point, that isn't going to happen and it still be a two point game. We have to keep getting better. We missed four free throws. We missed two one in ones and we split two of them. We missed four free throws and it is a two possession game."
#20 Lasan Kromah G
On the second half:
"We were just trying to find seams in their defense. They are really good at switching on ball screens and we were just trying to execute by attacking the basket."
On if it was animated in the locker room post game:
"No, we were just talking about how we need to do better and to focus on improving so we can get ready for the next game."
On settling for three-point shots tonight:
"I think we did a little bit. We should have attack the basket more because they were in foul trouble. So we should have been more aggressive trying to get to the lane."
On the offense struggling when Shabazz Napier has an off night:
"When he is on it's always good for us. Hopefully next game his shot comes back and I think we will be good when we get everything back in focus and focus on what we need to do."
On UC dominating the paint in the second half:
"They got more assertive to really put themselves in the paint. We were having a hard time going against that so that's something we need to get better at."
#2 Deandre Daniels F
How were you feeling before the game?
"I was fine at practice but before the game started my back just locked up on me and I couldn't really move. I thought I would give it a try because they gave me a shot in my back. I don't know what it does but I guess it is supposed to numb all of your muscles and relax them but it didn't really help that much. It's in my lower back. Kind of something new it happened to me last year. It happened once but this year it has happened to me a couple of times."
On his ankle:
"Yeah my ankle is fine. I have practice at every practice we have had. I have been shooting around on it and it was fine but when I get ready for the game my back just locked up on me."
#13 Shabazz Napier G
On the last five minutes:
"We started off the game fine but we just didn't do the right things at the end. I didn't shoot the ball well and I didn't play good basketball today."
On his night:
"I just had a bad shooting night. They definitely were playing good defense but they were getting away with a lot of cheap fouls but sometimes you have to deal with that."
On settling for bad shots:
"When you miss the shots you are used to making it makes it look like your settling. I definitely was and coach was right about that and I just got to do a better job getting to the basket. I was kind of upset because I was going to be the basket and getting no fouls."