Fantastic year. I’m sad that it’s over with, but I am very happy with this team and what they gave me. Starting in Germany – even starting way before that – but let’s go with Germany. Then to come back here, beat Vermont, and then go over to the Virgin Islands and play three games in [four] nights. That Quinnipiac game (the double OT win on Nov. 18) was when I knew I had something special, because we had a double overtime game and then we came back the next night and had a chance to beat New Mexico and I was like, ‘man, this team is going to be something special.’ The resolve, the resiliency they showed, the dedication they showed through the ups and downs and the changes. Me having a five month contract. Them sticking together. Thorugh the pain, I always say, there is going to be promise.
I couldn’t be happier for this group. Hopefully, they stay together because the future is so bright. We’re going into the new conference. I love my AD [Warde Manuel]. I love his passion. I love my president [Susan Herbst]. And I’m just along for the ride. I know they’re going to take us great places and I just can’t wait. And this team we’ve got coming in, the freshmen, it’s going to be a great ride. … The journey isn’t over, it’s just beginning.
This g ame was wonderful because I t showed that if you believe, anything is possible, and they believed.
Getting 20 wins was one of our goals. Winning the Big East was one of our goals and we didn’t accomplish that. But those are superficial goals. The goal I really want to talk about for this team was being the ‘best attitude team in America.’ They were the best attitude team in America.
[Shabazz Napier] played marvelously, running the tempo and controlling the whole game. Stepping up with his bad foot, he was just a special player out there.
Ryan [Boatright] stepped up. Without Omar [Calhoun] and Tyler [Olander], without the heart of the team, without Niels, we all stepped up. I could go down the list. Philip [Nolan], playing 34 minutes. Who would have thought, seeing him play earlier this year, he could play 34 minutes against [Kadeem] Batts? He showed that if you keep fighting and keep working, and keep believing in yourself, anything can happen. He stepped up.
The lightbulb just turned on with DeAndre [Daniels]. He’s just got a special, special season coming up next year. I can’t wait for him to come back.
R.J. made every catch, every dribble, every screen difficult for Bryce [Cotton], and once Bryce starts shooting he can hit three or four in a row. I asked R.J. to speak to the team before we came out and when he was done everybody was crying. He was only here one year, but he will have a special place, he will always be part of the UConn family.
We’re going into a new league, but they’re never going to take UConn away. We’re standing on something solid here and we’re going to build it brick by brick.