MEMPHIS – A tale of two Saturdays. Last Saturday was the worst of times, the most one-sided loss in 22 years for UConn.
Tomorrow, same opponent, a whole new basketball game.
UConn vs. Louisville, the two top teams in the preseason poll, meet for the first AAC title.
“We’re right where we wanted to be,” DeAndre Daniels said. “We wanted to come here and end up playing them again.”
The Huskies have a chance for redemption and they are really playing with house money. They’ve stood tall against the top five teams in the conference now, perhaps earned a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament. “Huge,” Ryan Boatright said, “huge, huge…”
The Huskies were jubilant, and rightfully so. Two great nights for them here, nothing to lose Saturday night. They can just let it fly.
Mick Cronin was asked of thought there was goaltending on Sean Kilpatrick’s last shot. “You really think they’re going to call t hat for Cincinnati? What games you been watching all year?”
Um, okay …
Here’s Kevin Ollie’s take:
It was just a great game. Seems like every time we play Cincy it comes down to a one?possession game. They’re well?coached and they play hard and I think we stood up to them and we stayed in the middle of the ring and kept throwing punches. It was a great victory for UConn and for our program and I told everybody coaching is overrated. This is a players’ game and my players stepped up tonight and took over the game and they matched their intensity and then we brought it up a notch. We got down by seven, there wasn’t anybody pointing fingers, we just came together and stayed connected and everybody did their job tonight. Not only the players on the floor but the players on the bench and it was a collective team win and we go to the next one, that’s what it’s all about.”
“It feels great but, you know, it started last year, when we couldn’t perform in a conference tournament or go to the NCAA Tournament, those guys still played for our great university and they stayed loyal to the program and they planted seeds and that’s what it’s all about, now you seeing the plant grow but they planted seeds last year. I want them to continue to plant seeds and we keep moving on and it’s another 40?minute war and we ready to battle.
“We going to come out and play [vs. Louisville]. This is the postseason and that is behind us. I think we’re a better team and of course Louisville is a better team and we’re going to face out in the ring and see who comes out but I like my guys and I wouldn’t trade ‘em for the world and we’re going to play solid and hopefully we come out with the win tomorrow.
“Amida, DeAndre took it personal. They wanted to win individual match?ups with a team concept and that’s how we got back in the game. We started rebounding the basketball better, we got out on the fast break and started converting a little bit but that defense was stellar.
To hold a team town to 37 percent and then we held down our last team 27 percent and it’s a great feeling when you know you can get stops and we call three stops in a row “kills” and I believe we had five kills tonight which is a great attribute to bring at anytime when we not scoring, we can always rely on our defense that’s what we hang our hats on and that’s what we been doing since I was a player?
["Better ball security] changed the shape of the game because they were getting live turnovers, I believe they had 12 points off of turnovers and 18 points in the paint. It was leading to easy buckets and we started being more solid with the basketball, keeping them in front of us and it allowed our defense to stay solid and with Bazz taking care of the ball, Ryan taking care of the ball even DeAndre and Niels it allowed us to get shots up to the rim and it wasn’t empty possessions. So we was just down by four halftime, and we was smiling inside, down by four, 11 turnovers, I didn’t show that to them but I was happy. It was a grind?out win. That’s why this team is so fun they get down and dirty and I love ‘em. I love ‘em to death.”
And we’ll be back Saturday, UConn vs. Louisville, one more time, for the first AAC crown. Should be a great night.