ARLINGTON, Texas – Shabazz Napier took the micophone and directed some thoughts at the UConn fans and the worldwide viewing audience. In effect, he said, “This is what happens when you ban us …”\
Here’s more from Shabazz, Most Outstanding Player of the East Regional and the Final Four, at the podium, again, thanks to ASAP Sports for the transcript …
“We’re hungry. When you stop, when you prevent us from trying to go to the post?season, and it wasn’t our fault, we worked since that day on. Coach Ollie told us, this is going to be a two?year plan, and since that day on we believed.
Like I said, man, I just wanted to grab everybody’s attention and introduce the Hungry Huskies, because it’s been two years. It’s quite funny because I was laying down and I was thinking of something to say, because I knew we were going to win.
I’m being real humble and not trying to be cocky, when you believe something so much, you understand what may happen in certain situations. I told myself, if I was on that podium I was going to say that.
I’m just so happy that I was in that position, because, man, these guys worked so hard, the coaches, the managers, our trainers, and last, but not least, the players. We worked so hard for this. We didn’t want to lose it. We worked so hard.
So here we go, celebrating.
We didn’t come out here to get any revenge or anything like that. We came out here to play. When you have the greatest fans to back you up, you’re going to play for them. That’s what we did out that first year under Coach Ollie.
And the second year we did the same thing, but we understood we had a chance to get to the promised land. And when you have the great fans that the University of Connecticut has, along with these great coaches, great trainers, and great managers, these players, something good’s going to happen.
You got to continue to believe. We had faith in each other, and we are here. We won the whole thing. We didn’t listen to any doubters. We just went out there and did what we had to do.
“… We have been playing against tall people in our entire life. But we’re both short. We kind of understand how to maneuver our bodies in certain ways that we can create fouls or get to the basket.
“… You got so much heart, you got so much passion for the game, you’re going to give everything you got. Even if you mess up, and there was times where me and him butted heads in the game, I told him I was going to get the rebound, I’m going to throw it to him, and he jumped with me. But we went on to the next play. We just so passionate about it and it happens. I’m just so happy we won.
“We worked so hard, you prepare yourself for these moments, and we continued to push each other and continued to work as hard as we possibly can until we’re tired so that when we get in the games, we’re not as winded as our opponent.
Today was just up and down, up and down. Them guys got a little winded and we just kind of took advantage of it.
I think it was kind of understood. From the beginning, Coach Ollie told us that we have a chance to be on the top if we worked hard. He always told us that. We always knew that the words were ‘if we work hard.’ We wanted to be on top. We wanted to feel like we were the champions. And there were times when we were down and guys were picking us up.
“I remember telling these guys after we lost against Louisville at home our first game, I remember telling these guys, I said, Everybody pick your head up. At the end of the day, I said, We’re going to be the team that’s going to be holding up that trophy. I promise you that.
“And it’s so surreal that it actually happened. I told them, we were in the podium and I told everybody, Look at me. I said, What did I tell y’all when we lost against Louisville at home?
And everyone was, like, Man, you said we were going to hold that trophy.
And I was like, Man, we’re the best team in the country. It’s not the Shabazz show. No, I don’t need to get recognized. They understand that. It’s the University of Connecticut Huskies. We went out there and proved it.”
“We kind of understand that we slow it down a little bit when we’re playing against zone and we have been getting a lot better. But with DeAndre out and Boatright out, it’s even tougher because them two guys are superior threats on that zone, especially with DeAndre getting in the middle.
“When they put the zone in, everybody filled in. I felt like Niels stepped up, Terrence, Phil. Phil could have had 12 points if he didn’t get it blocked all the time.
But everybody filled in though. It was amazing. When these two great players were on the bench because they have two fouls or whatever, everybody fills in. That’s what a team is. I’ve been saying that from the beginning. This team is so well?rounded that if one guy falls down, another guy picks it up. Coach Ollie’s been stressing that since the beginning. One guy falls down in practice, he wants everybody to go pick them up.
That’s just the showing that no matter what’s going on, the next guy got to step up.”