March 19, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Connecticut student athletes and Coach George Blaney. Coach, we'll ask you to make an opening statement, please.
COACH BLANEY: Well, I just finished telling the team that Coach Calhoun prepared them for this kind of performance. He makes them work so hard, and if you go back through his history, that's why all his players are so good. When they get to the pros, they even get better, because he teaches them how to work.
Right before the game I told this team that they were prepared to play well, and that's what we kept saying during the game, that we were gonna push the ball hard, we were going to play defense, and we were going to play hard. And they did all three of those things right from the get go.
We just talked to coach on the phone. He is in the hospital. They are going to keep him overnight, but he expects to be with us very shortly. But, again, it was his preparation that allowed us to play this way. And I know we scored a hundred points, whatever we scored, but it was an unbelievable defensive display.
Our hedging on the pick and rolls, our rebounding, and obviously our shot blocking were just absolutely sensational.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions to the student athletes.
Q. A.J. obviously you're going to face stronger competition starting a few days from now. Can you tell us what a confidence boost it is to start this way?
A.J. PRICE: I think it's a great confidence boost. We heard so much about us not winning a post season game. We wanted to get the monkey off our back, perform well, the way we did today. We can move on from here. We know Saturday is going to be a tough test, and we're up for the challenge.
Q. When you say, We talked to coach, was it just you?
COACH BLANEY: No, we all talked to him. We had him on a speaker phone. He talked to us.
Q. Did he watch the game in the hospital?
COACH BLANEY: I think he kept talking to Kyle Muncy , our sports information director. I don't know if he watched it all.
Q. Could you share with us what did coach share with you after the game?
A.J. PRICE: He told us it was a great performance. We did a great job defensively. We scored the basketball in transition the way we should have. He was upbeat about everything, told us he couldn't wait to join us again. We can't wait to have him back.
Q. A.J., stretch in the first half where you hit three threes in a minute. Can you describe what you were thinking about at the time, if anything?
A.J. PRICE: I was just thinking about getting one to go down for me. Couldn't hit one, it seemed like, to start the game. Once I got the first one, I just got into a rhythm. I'll a rhythm shooter. Got myself going after that. I think my teammates did a great job of pushing the ball in transition and getting the ball to me where I was able to make a play.
The shots started going down for me.
Q. A.J., when you get on a roll like that as a team, do you find yourself surprised by just how much it had gone out of control in terms of in your favor offensive wise?
A.J. PRICE: No, I mean, that's how we practice. We really do practice like that. We're able to score in spurts as a team. When we all get clicking, five guys playing as one, which has been our motto all year long, that seems to happen for us as a team when we rebound the ball, play defense the way we played defense, push it back on the offensive end, it's easy to get easy baskets. We're getting stops as well because here a good defensive team. It seems to happen like that for us. Once we get rolling, we seem to feed off each other's energy.
Q. There was some question after Sunday. Do you feel justified that you guys did get the 1 seed?
A.J. PRICE: We felt justified throughout the whole process. When we saw we were a 1 seed, we felt like our body of work, everything we'd done all work, we deserved to be a 1 seed. I think we answered a lot of questions today about whether we should be a 1 seed or not.
Q. A.J., the release said y'all didn't find out that coach wasn't going to be there until you got here today. What was going through your mind when you found out he wouldn't be coaching today?
A.J. PRICE: We were obviously surprised about it. Not thrilled that he wasn't with us. I mean, he's our leader, our general. We were just anxious to know that he was okay, going to be okay and be able to come back later in the tournament, which he is going to be with us Saturday.
COACH BLANEY: A.J. was afraid I wasn't going to start him (smiling).
Q. Jeff and A.J., what was it like to not have Coach Calhoun on the sidelines?
JEFF ADRIEN: It was very unfortunate coach couldn't be out there. It was a little different. You usually hear somebody yelling at you, in a motivational way. But, you know, coach, he does what he does, he motivates players. But we had Coach Blaney today who did a good job of motivating us and got us really pumped up. Definitely coach prepared us very well for this game. So it was a little different.
A.J. PRICE: I think we would have been more fired up if coach was here. Chattanooga actually got off easy, I think, by coach not being here today (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll continue with questions for Coach Blaney.
Q. How tough is it on you when you find out just before the game that you're going to coach it?
COACH BLANEY: How tough is it on me? We've got a team that's been ranked No. 1 in the country. We won 27 games. We're in a gym. We're playing a game. It's fun.
Q. I know this is still a fluke situation, but do you go on right now with the idea you'll be coaching Saturday or Coach Calhoun will be back or you haven't gotten that far yet?
COACH BLANEY: We haven't gotten that far. In talking to him, he just said, I'm looking forward to being back with you. So I'm assuming that he will be back with us.
But, you know, we'll just take it day to day, hour by hour, uh huh.
Q. In '04 when this happened, it was kind of quirky, a sports drink. I won't say it's funny. The uncertainty of this is...
COACH BLANEY: I know very little about it because he called me about 11:45. I was getting ready to come over and scout the Texas A&M game. He called me and just said, I'm not feeling well. I might not coach. And then Dr. Anderson called us back when we were driving here and said, He's not going to coach today. We're just going to keep looking at him. He
just feels under the weather.
So then we went and played the game. Then I talked to him just very briefly with the team. So I'm sure I'll talk to him tonight and then see where we go from there.
Q. I know you're not a doctor
COACH BLANEY: By the way, he asked for stats and everything, so...
Q. That's an encouraging sign. I was wondering if you could share anything more with us about his condition? There's talk he may have been dehydrated.
COACH BLANEY: I think people assume that. I have no idea. I really don't. I don't. It would be unfair to say anything without any knowledge. I mean, that's we'll put out a statement as soon as we find out really what's wrong. I think that's the issue.
Q. Can you talk about Craig's defense on McDowell. That was a key for you going in.
COACH BLANEY: You have seen coach's teams play for so many years and have witnessed, you know, great defensive players. Ricky Moore, Taliek Brown, those kind of guys. That was one of those kind of performances in my mind.
I mean, he did not allow he did not allow McDowell any room. I mean, I've seen five games of Chattanooga. That kid can play. He's really quick. He can shoot it deep. And he takes 10 threes a game, and shoots 43 percent. So, I mean, it was an incredible job, I thought, by him.
Q. Aside from a measure of confidence, did you see things today that encouraged you as you go forward to play Texas A&M?
COACH BLANEY: We've been telling this team all along that they're really good. And I think they've had some trouble with that. I think they haven't believed as much as we've believed. And so I think, from a confidence standpoint, that does get a little the first game of the tournament, it gets that off their back a little bit and maybe we can relax and play the kind of basketball that we're really capable of playing.
I thought Hasheem, I mean, he was just immense inside, and he was calm all day. He didn't get involved in a lot of things. He just played really solid, solid defense, and made the right plays almost every single time down.
Q. You said you got a look at Texas A&M. What were your perceptions on them?
COACH BLANEY: Really strong. Really physical. I mean, I think they made their first 10 shots of game or close to it. Good size inside. They want to run. I think they're a really good team. I think they've beaten some good people. But they certainly have physical athletes that will give us a go, for sure.
Q. How does your staff handle the scouting of the next round opponents? Did your being pressed into service dictate who would be in charge of scouting the next round opponents?
COACH BLANEY: I've seen both BYU and Texas A&M, again, four or five times each. But I had Pat Seller and Justin Ivanovic both scouted the first game tonight. We'll go over some of that tonight. We'll have a film clip we already have together. We'll add to that from that game and then go from there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Chattanooga student athletes and Coach Shulman. Coach, we'll start with an opening statement by you, please.
COACH SHULMAN: My only comment, never be ashamed to dream. Never be ashamed to believe. And never be ashamed about getting beat in the NCAA tournament.
We played really poorly. It doesn't take away winning a championship in a great league. I hurt for our kids. I hurt for our program. I hurt for our I feel, Commissioner Iamarino, like I let you down. We have a great league. And Davidson did an amazing job representing it last year. We didn't hold up our end of the bargain.
But still not ashamed. Disappointed, but not ashamed.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. KG, describe for me how you kind of felt it slipping away throughout the entire first half.
KEVIN GOFFNEY: I mean, they get to the foul line maybe 20 times in the first half. That's big right there. They was getting out of transition. Two things we wanted to take away. When they get that, they pretty good. So, I mean, they kind of ran away with that.
Q. What was going through your mind as you get five points in the last 12 minutes?
NICCHAEUS DOAKS: We wasn't executing our offense. We wasn't getting stops defensively. We fouled way too much in the game.
We just didn't execute the game plan the way we should have. Like coach said, we didn't bring our best game. We played pretty bad out there. The offense wasn't flowing like it normally does. And we really didn't do the things that we worked on in practice on offense. And we tried to play a little more one on one. And, as you see, that didn't work.
Q. Thabeet, have you played a guy like him?
NICCHAEUS DOAKS: No, I never played anybody 7'3" and athletic who blocks pretty much anything. But he's a good player. Not taking nothing away from him. But it was good playing against him, I guess. I really don't know. We shouldn't have shied away from him, I think. I think we kind of shied away from him. He does change offense a little bit because he does block so many shots.
I still think we should have went at him more instead of shying away from him, played more inside out. We got guys who can shoot him. We put faith in Kevin and Stephan and Keyron. If those shots drop, we change the whole game.
Q. KG, describe how the game kind of changed once Keyron picked up his second and third.
KEVIN GOFFNEY: I mean, Keyron is a big game changer for us. He can push the rock up the floor, play good D, make shots. I mean, that was huge. We missed him a lot. He caused havoc out there. Not to have him out there really changed the game for us.
Q. It's such a fine line to do what your coach wanted you to do. Obviously he wanted you to move the ball, make those guys play a little defense. When you get an open shot, you have to take the shot. Try to describe what a fine line that is to walk.
KEVIN GOFFNEY: Yeah, we kind of knew going in we probably could get any shot we wanted, about you we can't always take that first shot. That's kind of what we did tonight.
When we came off the screen, Thabeet was there. It's a pop. You got to take it. Like you say, you never know if you're going to get that shot back.
But, I mean, like Doaks said, the offense didn't go like we wanted it. It's a bad night for that to happen.
Q. What goes through your head, if you can look back on it now? You weren't thinking about it at the time, but you're going up against a team like this. You in the back of your mind might want to prove what you can do. Does that have anything to do with going one on one?
NICCHAEUS DOAKS: I think offense got stagnant. Sometimes when the offense gets stagnant, we're not moving, it's not flowing like it should. We start thinking we got to score the ball. Whoever got the ball, they got to go score. It's not about trying to prove anything against them. We already proven ourself because we got to the tournament. That's the main proving factor right there that we're a good team. It ain't worrying about individual players. On the court, we're five players and we're a team, man.
But we played a little bit too much one on one tonight. It just happened. It was just a bad night for us offensively.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll continue with questions for Coach Shulman.
Q. You look physically exhausted. How mentally and physically taxing was not only tonight but this entire season?
COACH SHULMAN: It's been a long year. Been a long year that we battled, persevered. Everybody counted us out. It's been a long year.
You know, it breaks my heart that we finished playing poorly. You know, no 16's ever beat a 1. What you want to do is you want to come up here and play well. Win or lose, you want to play well. And I hate that our seniors who have done an awful lot for our program have to play their last game and remember that.
But I tried to explain to them, it's not nothing to be ashamed of ending your season in Philadelphia in the NCAA tournament. We were just expecting more. That's why I said, you know, we dreamed it. Whether that's right or wrong, I ain't ashamed of that. I think if you can't have dreams, someone needs to shoot me.
So just really disappointed for our kids.
Q. You played a lot of really talented athletic teams, especially early in the year. Were these guys a cut above?
COACH SHULMAN: Their length, you know, their length, their length and their physicality. Adrien's physicality. Robinson is special. You know, Thabeet, he's a pretty good player. His length, his size. They defend. They're solid. You know, Tennessee was different. Kind of played us different in the full court. This is something, you know, we're not real used to, to tell you the truth.
We had to have an unbelievable night shooting that ball. I don't know if I put too much pressure on Steph. We played Memphis in a very tight game earlier this year very tight without Goffney, who I think kind of makes us go. You know, Steph had to have a night where he made eight, nine threes in order for us to have a chance. He didn't, and it slipped away.
Q. What did they do to Steph?
COACH SHULMAN: They got good size, they got good strength, they got good athleticism. He got good looks. This is a different venue for us. I ain't gonna lie to you. It's a different venue to come out 3:00 on a Saturday I don't even know what day it is on a Thursday afternoon in the Wachovia Center on CBS. You know, I'm just going to tell you. And you step out on this stage, and you understand what's on this stage.
I'm just going to tell you, I got great respect got great respect for UConn, but I got great respect for everybody's playing in this tournament because you're stepping on a stage. Let me just tell you something, the worst thing that can happen on this stage is what just happened to us. And don't think it ain't embarrassing. But it's probably more embarrassing not to try and be on this stage.
Q. Describe for me how that first half just kind of slipped away and how much foul trouble with three starters sitting next to you.
COACH SHULMAN: I don't play guys with two fouls. You know that. I don't play guys with two fouls in the first half. I had a whole team full of guys with two fouls.
What we did, we went out there and we were crazy. We went out there and didn't execute what we did all season long. It was like a different like we had a different team.
You know, we can handle inside stuff. But we were trying to block shots. Steph got a foul trying to block shots. Our double teams weren't she good. Keyron is the key. And I knew that. He picks up three fouls.
But, I mean, our goal coming in, no transition baskets, no second shots, and keep 'em off the foul line. Take a look. They went to the line 39 times. We went to the line 10 times. Coming into the game, we had gown to the foul line more than any team in America. I guess the officials just didn't believe me.
Q. I was watching you behind the bench trying to keep it together with bailing wire. You got to the second TV timeout. Did you feel at all encouraged? You guys were hanging in there. Must have been thinking, If we can just hang around.
COACH SHULMAN: I thought we weathered one storm. I didn't know a monsoon was coming. You know, I thought we took care of a storm, weathered a storm a little bit. I think we were down two at that time out. We came down, ran a set, got a good look at it from three. It would have been nice to go up a little bit.
But, you know, I've got freshmen out there. I got Chris Early out there. It should be Doaks out there. We had to play too many people that we hadn't been playing. We hadn't played a whole lot of people. We play our seniors. I wanted to let our seniors do the deal. They're sitting over there in foul trouble.
UConn is very good. I respect them and they're very good. They didn't get our best shot. I'm not saying our best shot was good enough. But if I don't sell our team on it, then I ain't a very good coach.
So, I mean, we dreamed it dreamed it. I just wasn't meant to be. I'm sick, to tell you the truth.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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