April 3, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Connecticut student-athletes Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price. We'll open it up for
Q. What's your feel for the mindset of the team? What has it been like waiting this long to get
back on the court, the chaos of this entire experience this week?
A.J. PRICE: I think we're in a great mindset as a team, focused, ready to play the game. It's been a
good experience to be down here. But I think we just ready to get on the court now.
JEFF ADRIEN: Yeah, we're very excited. We just want to get on the court and start playing some ball.
Q. Looking at film, what jumps out at you about Michigan State? What do they do that most
JEFF ADRIEN: Uhm, they have so many offensive sets. They can run several different things. We just
got to be prepared for that and be ready, you know, for their pick and pops, Lucas getting to the hole, into the
paint. We just got to be able to contain that stuff.
A.J. PRICE: They play hard as a team, have a lot of offensive sets at Jeff said. They a good all-around
Q. Can you take us back when you got sick with the brain incident, when did you know it was
really serious? When did you know you were lucky to be alive? You talked a lot about wanting to get to
the Final Four. Have you reflected back at all about being here now and how close to never being here?
A.J. PRICE: I think I realized how serious it was when I woke up in ICU. They kind of told me that
something serious had happened. You know, there was a couple times in my career where I wasn't sure if I'd
have this chance.
But, you know, I just been blessed with the opportunity to be here. Everything worked out. I stayed with
it. Here we are today, so very grateful.
Q. Jeff, you led the nation in shot blocking seven years in a row. What is it about UConn that
breeds great shot blockers?
JEFF ADRIEN: It's tradition. Coach recruits very well and he recruits the right players that gets that job
done. You know, past couple years we had a lot of great shot blockers. Hasheem is a great one, there was
Hilton and Josh. Before that there was Emeka. We've just been passing it down.
Q. AJ, in the past couple days, have you thought back more to where you were, where you are
now, and who in your life was most important in helping you get through that?
A.J. PRICE: Well, I can't say I have thought back to the past. Really trying to look forward and get to the
games more than anything. I think, you know, my family has been the cornerstone of me just staying focused
and trying to get on track. So I have to give a lot of credit to my parents, obviously, who just been there for me
throughout this whole time. You know, Coach Calhoun also has played an instrumental part in that, as well.
Q. AJ, what kind of mindset do you take into a game when you're facing a so-called top
defender like Walton?
A.J. PRICE: Just try to go in and be at your best. Know he's going to do his job, which is to be a
defensive stopper. So I know he's going to bring his A game, I just got to try to bring mine. I just try to come in
with the mindset that I'm probably going to have to be at the top of my game or near the top of my game to be
Q. Jeff, can you discuss the problems Suton can present. Do you expect to share defensive
responsibilities with Hasheem on him?
JEFF ADRIEN: I'm probably going to start off on Suton. His ability to shoot from the outside, stretch the
defense out is real good. What they do over there is very effective. To beat a good Louisville team like, that
Suton will be a big part of that. That will present some trouble for us.
But we're going to be ready and contain Suton.
Q. Your team has had to deal with a lot of things that could have been potential distractions
before the season started with Coach being sick, yet you haven't seemed to flinch. How have you
managed to do that?
JEFF ADRIEN: We're just immensely tough mentally group of guys. It really started with our coach.
Like you said, he had his sickness and everything. We just see how he responds to it, how he goes about it.
You can almost see he brushes it off and the next day he's at work. So I think we really learned from Coach from
the mental side and that's what makes us who we are.
Q. In watching film on them, did anything strike you that made you think you're a lot like them in
a certain part of it, rebounding, whatever?
A.J. PRICE: I think that part that you hit on, they rebound the basketball very well. That's something that
we try to do every single game, hit the glass. If you dominate the glass, you always have a chance to win the
game. And they're a defensive team as well. Those are two things that jump out at you.
Q. AJ, was there ever a point back in '05, when you had your problem, where you thought you'd
blown it, scholarship, everything? What was it like facing your parents the first time after all that came
A.J. PRICE: Yeah, there was a time where I didn't think, you know, I'd have this chance to play
basketball again at this level. But, like I said, I stuck with it. Everything worked out. You know, my mother, she
was always on my side, always behind me, always knew I would do what I needed to do to get back to where I
was. My father, a different story, kind of tough love. But eventually we worked through that.
Q. Is there any sort of us-against-the-world mentality with the team now in light of the
revelations on possible recruiting violations?
A.J. PRICE: We go in every game with the us-against-the-world mentality. With everything going on
now, us having a road game basically out here, it will make that more apparent. I think it will be much easier for
us to go out there and focus and execute and do the things we need to do to try to win this game.
Q. AJ, Durrell Summers is a guy from Michigan State that's emerged in the tournament. Is he on
your radar? What do you think of his game?
A.J. PRICE: Yeah, he's a very versatile player. He has really stepped up over the past couple games
and had a good tournament so far.
But he's on our radar, along with everybody else on they team. We're not going to overlook anybody.
He's definitely somebody that we gonna try to stop.
Q. Is Michigan State the closest thing you've seen to a Big East team outside of the Big East?
JEFF ADRIEN: Definitely. You know, they're a different style of team. They play -- they're different from
other Big-10 schools. They like to run and they rebound, they're very physical. So, you know, I think that's really
why they won the Big-10 this year, with their different style. You know, Big-10's traditionally, they say it's like a
slow conference, but they're able to play all different types of games. So, yeah, that's very impressive.
Q. Coach Calhoun has been very vocal about saying this is a group of guys he really enjoys.
Have you seen that from him this season? We never get to see the side of him that enjoys what he's
JEFF ADRIEN: No, definitely we have. Coach is always around us. When we're eating, he's there.
He's chatting with us, he's telling jokes. He's definitely happy right now. You know, he's happy for us. Like he
said last night, we've been through a lot of stuff. For us to fight and stick to it, you know, he's very proud of us.
And can you really tell.
You know, every year is different. This year, you could tell Coach is very excited and happy. He calmed
down a little bit, to tell you the truth, as far as the yelling and everything, so...
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
A.J. PRICE: Thank you.
JEFF ADRIEN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Calhoun. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. (No Microphone.)
COACH CALHOUN: AJ, was rushed, I'm sitting in a waiting room, the blood pressures with 220/150.
They really had doubts whether the AVM he was experiencing would do permanent damage or possibly fatal
damage. From that point on we had -- to take care of the AVM, the small vessels that were transporting blood
and shouldn't have been. Then an ACL, everything possible for him to get here to match his father to get to the
Final Four, Tony Price, here in '79, against Michigan State. It's one of the great feelings I've ever had because of
the five-year journey that we've had together.
An incredible extension of what we were trying to do at UConn.
Q. Can you describe what makes Travis Walton a good defender, his matchup with Price, what
Price will need to do.
COACH CALHOUN: Two things. First thing he's a great athlete -- three things really, he plays for Tom
Izzo, therefore, if he doesn't play defense, he doesn't play. Fear is a great thing. And third, 'cause he wants to.
You know, we had a kid, Ricky Moore, who locked some folks up at Duke. He really wanted to play defense.
We really built that thing up, that's what he did. They stop people. You build it up more and more in practice to
show how special he is. He takes that role very, very well.
Q. I know you go back a little bit with Coach Jay Wright from Villanova. Him getting to his first
Final Four, establishing himself among the country's elite coaches, talk about the job he's done.
COACH CALHOUN: Well, he was a great coach at Hofstra. I remember him as an assistant at
Villanova. I've had to face him. He's the ultimate small-ball player in the Big East. Plays different than most of us
do. Not that they're not physical and come at you, but they do space the court as well if not better than any team
I've seen recently. He has an incredible rapport with his kids. How do I know that? Because they go after every
loose ball and play hard for him.
He clearly is one of the best coaches in America, and he's proven it by being here. I will clearly,
definitively say this will not be his last trip to the Final Four. He's an terrific coach and one of the best people in
Q. AJ was in here and he called Durrell Summers versatile. Last few games, Durrell has made
some key shots. What is your plan to combat that?
COACH CALHOUN: Try to stop him. I think the biggest thing, almost looking at Suton or any good
player, when they get on a roll, you've got to do something to them. Each player on their team, the thing that I
think that -- I think we're much more mirror images of each other than people realize. Michigan State can go into
the Big East tomorrow and fit right in 'cause they're going to be like Pittsburgh, a lot of teams in our league, bang
you on the boards, number one in the country. They're going to run as tight of sets as you're going to see
We went over 15 different plays and finally gave up because we had 85 more to go. Tommy runs so
many different offenses. They play great defense. They prevent you from running. I say a real sneaky
fast-break team. Because of the way they play, they're a much better fast-break team than people realize. We
tried to make an adjustment for each kid on their team. They go nine deep. We probably go seven or eight
I think you're looking somewhat at mirrors. I think right now, I know Tommy has said they like us to run,
Hasheem to run. We want to run. We also want to use our inside power. We think between Jeff and Hasheem,
they shoot 60-something percent between them, they get 23 rebounds, both are double-double guys. We're
going to try to get the ball inside early as much as we possibly can.
Q. Ty Lawson was talking yesterday and said he had gone out to one of the casinos earlier this
week. Because of the NCAA's discomfort with gambling, did you have a talk with your guys at all?
COACH CALHOUN: Well, our curfew has been tight, number one. Number two, we told them that was
off limits. He's of age. Quite frankly, I don't -- I'm not speaking for Roy or anybody else. I just don't really find it
really that problematic. A person of age is allowed to do really what he wants to do as long as it's legal. That
certainly was very legal in his particular case. So, no.
I'm sure if he had it to do over again, just like some other things in life, you do them over again. I
remember the U2 thing, that I might at least not say -- I meant what I said, I just wouldn't have said it the same
way. You know what I'm talking about now? A do-over kind of thing.
I just have one thing to say. As far as me to speaking to the things that are swirling around, I can't speak
factually on any base for one simple reason. I was accused today that I would, today, make the definitive
definition of whether we were guilty or not guilty. I can't say anything.
The NCAA has put a gag order. While they're doing their, not an investigation right now, but a review,
they have told us we cannot speak to the facts.
But people, if they see fit to want to work, can write about the facts as they like, as opposed to unfactual
(sic) things, but I can't speak to the facts. So please do not think by my silence about what's been swirling around
a little bit, quite a bit actually, that it's not because I don't want to say anything, it's 'cause I can't say anything else.
We've been put on a restraining order while the NCAA continues its review.
I just wanted to clarify that so you know why I'm not speaking. Knowing me in the past, you know I
probably would speak up, but I can't.
Q. You just clarified that you can't talk about that. But the season as a whole from trip to the
hospital, to that thing, to the governor, have you been able to enjoy any of this ride or has it been kind of
COACH CALHOUN: No, it's been great. It really has been. I didn't want to go through cancer last year,
but it happened. How did I handle it? I went public and tried to get as many other people to check themselves,
try to do everything I could to do PSAs about it. I thought it was my obligation and responsibility to do that.
Same thing with the Calhoun Cardiology Center. I had both parents lost because of heart disease. I
thought it was important I try to use the position I was in, UConn basketball coach, to make people aware of that.
I looked at it as another trial in life, and we're given those trials, you've got to overcome them by getting up every
This team has given me incredible joy this year. They came back from 17-14, from adversity. AJ's ACL,
near-death experience, self-induced problem he had. I can give you a whole -- the journey of Hasheem Thabeet.
So, no, I got so much joy watching these kids grow.
Particularly when they got here, you know, because there's been a lot of pressure on them by our former
players. Rip, who I spoke to two days ago, he said, "They got there. Yeah, we got there.
After being 17-14 two years ago, they were the tonic, they were, quite frankly, the best medicine I could
ever possibly receive coming off of radiation, which really, quite frankly, for two months afterwards was very
difficult. The governor, by the way, I believe bet with the governor of Missouri, that's another issue for another
day, for our Missouri game, something of that nature. I really don't look at that as being a major issue, no.
That's why I was saying, I speak the way I feel, because I can talk factually about that.
Q. Since you've gotten probably the bulk of the work out of the way, what do you hope to
accomplish in today's practice?
COACH CALHOUN: It's a great point. It's a different venue. We can say this is a regular gym. I call it a
gym. Even though it holds so many. It's because I'm older. Tommy Izzo in the interview reminded me that I was
much older than him, never expected to be coaching at my advanced age. With that said, only a friend could get
away with it, but with that said, it's different.
When we were here yesterday, to be honest with you, when we played in Glendale, where the Super Bowl was held, I thought this had a tighter feeling as far as being able to shoot the basketball. We're going to go out there today and we really want to work hard on shooting to get the situation. We also are going to try to do timeouts. One of the great debates amongst my staff, what am I going to do during the game with a stool, which I don't use a seat anyway, on top -- what am I going to do? Especially if things aren't going particularly well, or if they are going well.
That's been the greatest debate we've had on our staff. Then we want our players up. We'll probably
get stools have them up for timeouts. We're going with six. Plus you're right, the actual background and the
atmosphere that we're playing in.
Q. Would you anticipate it was like, I think '98, you played Carolina in the Elite 8.
COACH CALHOUN: Greensboro.
Q. I think we all knew who they were rooting for that day. Do you think it will be like that here?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm sure it will be. I mean, the fact that some of the memos are coming out in
green, I don't think that being a major problem. True story. The ushers in entire Greensboro at that time were
handing out blue and white shakers, the ushers were employed for Greensboro. True story. In 1998, we lost that
year to that great Carolina team with Vince Carter, et cetera, then won it the next year.
But I think once the game begins, I don't think it makes any difference. We've got to play basketball. We
had to go to Louisville before 20,000 people. Once you get a big crowd, once you get something that's very
important, we're just going to have to play basketball.
We've been a very good road team this year, but we're playing a really good team. That scares me
mainly because they match us. They can do things that we can do. I'd rather get a contrast. Missouri was
somewhat of a contrast. I like that. Purdue was definitely a contrast.
Q. In a sport where coaches are now making as much as $4 million a year, is it harder to know
what to say when a kid or his family, often from poor circumstances, say, When do we get ours or what's
in this for us?
COACH CALHOUN: First thing, addressing, we are in America. We're in a situation where we're still
involved in a capitalist system where you get paid market value. That's why people are paying. Are we getting
out of hand? I don't particularly think so, obviously, but I wouldn't. You know, I'm at the end somewhere, one,
two, three, four, five years of not being one of the recipients of that.
But I do think players will start saying, Where do we get this piece?
Well, yeah, I think they do. But room, board, tuition, books and fees, plus all the trips, gear and
exposure. You're a great player, you're getting incredible exposure. You can tell me you can get that in the
development league or NBA. Yeah, LeBron can, certain players can. But for a lot of our kids, A.J. Price,
Hasheem Thabeet, who certainly couldn't, as a freshman, done that. They get a great opportunity to get an
education, to be a part of a team, to do an awful lot of different things.
Do I see that coming? I probably do think that's probably the next step as it becomes more and more
publicized. Shouldn't we have trips home?
I've always said, we should definitely bring them to the NCAA tournament, families. I've always said that
we should bring 'em home during Christmastime. 68% of all problems in the NCAA involve transportation. So
why don't we set up initial enrollment?
If we're going to bring in $6.2 billion, maybe some of that should be for the student-athletes, I would be
for some of that. Not necessarily cash payments. It's still amateur athletics, no matter what anybody says.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.