ARLINGTON, Texas – A few notes, quotes and stuff from the delirious UConn locker room, and AT&T as we wrap up this unforgettable night …
Warde Manuel, as he said last week, plans to sit down with Kevin Ollie as soon as possible to discuss a new contract. “Right now, I’m going to a game tomorrow night in Nashville. I’m going to enjoy this. I have a love for this university. Kevin knows how I feel about him, and I know he has a love for this university. When we sit down, I think it’s going to be a great conversation.”
DeAndre Daniels was clutching the trophy. “I’m going to eat with it, sleep with it,” he said.
Asked about his future plans. “I’m not worrying about that right now. I’m just going to enjoy the moment.”
Ryan Boatright said the same thing, BTW: “I’m not worrying about my future. I’m just going to celebrate with my teammates.”
Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton were in the locker room for a good long time.
Was that level six? “Definitely,” Ryan Boatright said.
Niels Giffey, who hit a couple of big threes down the stretch:
“I knew coming into these games that we might not get scoring from other guys. I had to get myself comfortable, realizing that this is my team. I’m a captain of this team and I had to step up.
On the advantage of veteran leadership: “I hope one of the things that our story, the story we wrote, really tells that people can see and learn a lesson from that. It can really work out if you stay with a program four years, and you stay with a core group of people and you really get to know each other on and off the court so well. You just create bonds that you will never forget and you will always have.”
Terrence Samuel: “I see us getting back here. That’s definitely my goal and I’m going to work hard this summer. I am going to start the next couple of days. I’m just trying to get better and now I know what it takes to get here. There is pressure because you have big shoes to fill, but I have to accept the challenge.”
Samuel made some important free throws down the stretch – just as Shabazz Napier did as a freshman.
Tyler Olander: “Coach Ollie is going to keep UConn up in the elite status of basketball. We just have extreme belief in each other, we have belief in a system. It doesn’t matter who is on the court.”
Phil Nolan: “It’s crazy and one of the best moments of my life.”
Kevin Ollie’s mother was in there for a while, and his family. And Jim Calhoun.
John Calipari was pretty gracious. “Kevin Ollie is one of the great guys of all time. I hate to lose, but I’m glad he won.”
The All-Final Four Team: Julius Randle and James Young of Kentucky, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels and, as Most Outstanding Player, Shabazz Napier.
There were 79,238 in the building for this game, 3,800 more than at Houston in 2011.
UConn is 4-0 in championship games, three playing in Texas – - here, Houston and San Antonio.
UConn is the first team to win a national championship without winning its conference regular season or tournament title since Arizona in 1997. The Huskies are the first team to win a title without playing in the NCAA or NIT the previous year since NC State in 1974, but, of course, UConn would have played in the tournament last year if eligible.
Steve Fischer, who won a national title as Michigan’s interim coach in 1989, was the last to win a title within his first two seasons as a head coach.
UConn is the first team to win a title after going to overtime in its first NCAA Tournament game since NC State in 1983.
Shabazz Napier joins Kemba Walker, Derek Rose and Larry Bird as the only players to score at least 125 points, get at least 25 rebounds and at least 25 assists in a single NCAA Tournament.
Ray Allen was in the locker room after the game with fellow former Huskies Richard Hamilton and Boo Willingham. Khalid El-Amin was also lingering after the game.
“It shows great determination and resiliency of this team,” Allen said. “We had a great regular season. I’ve seen a lot of these kids coming into this program as freshmen. I’ve known Kevin [Ollie] for 20 years. We played in Seattle together. It’s been a great ride and I am so proud of them.
“Nothing surprised me about [Ollie]. You know his spirit. You know his personality. You know what he is capable of doing and what he has in him. He is a person who will never give up on you or anyone else.”
Jim Calhoun: “I am so proud of our university, every one of those guys out there and the seniors. They have stuck with the program all the way through.”
And Calhoun has this to say about Napier: “He is a great player. I think that when Chris Smith came here, the only thing we had was an NIT championship and Shabazz is like him when he take it to another level, when the team needs him to. That are great, great players. When you talk about Ray [Allen], when you talk about Emeka [Okafor], Kemba [Walker], and now Shabazz, you talk about greatness.”
Kevin Ollie as he walked down the Hall: “Can’t wait for the women to win the NC tomorrow night. It’ll be deju vu all over again.”
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