STORRS – Okay, wow, what a game. … It’s late and there’s a ton to talk about, but let’s start here:
There’s such a thing as “knowing how to win,” though some hate intangibles. … And there is no substitute for it. UConn’s experience in games like this means they stay calm at the end, and calm – as in Shabazz Napier with a second to go – is what often makes the difference.
Here’s the game story for the Tuesday Courant.
Now, Kevin Ollie’s take:
“I’m happy, but I’m a little exhausted. Another one-point game but, once again, we showed our resolve. We didn’t do a lot of things but, at the end of the day, we got a win, because it’s about our heart. We’re not the biggest team in America but, man, I wouldn’t trade our heart for anybody.”
“It’s heart that’s going to get you through. Sometimes you can’t go over the top of it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go right through it. That’s what this team is doing.
“I don’t know how we do it. You look on this stat sheet. I don’t know how we do it…They shoot 49 percent and out-rebound us but, at the end of the day, we get it done. It’s a magical team. They’ve been through a lot.
“The three-point line really helped us….That allowed us to stay in the game.
“[Florida] is going to be real good. That’s money in the bank right there. They’ve got a couple of people hurt right now, but in March, they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with. [Their big men] have muscles on top of muscles.”
“People who h ave been around here a while know what we do. We outlast our opponents. We did that one more time tonight, we outlasted them.”
“Shabazz was phenomenal. Whenever we need a big shot, he makes that. Whenever we need a play to be made, he made that…he’s got so much heart. Hopefully, America is starting to look at him as that man. He’s got so much heart. I love the kid to death. One of the big time players to ever put this jersey on and walk on the court at Gampel.
“[The last play] kind of reminded me of Richard Hamilton…. It was just a tap back and then the fade away. … Shabazz, make a play. When they get a trap, Shabazz make the pass. Shabazz is so clever, he’s trapped, and then he got through the trap, they knocked it out of his hands and then he got it back again. I knew they were going to take the ball out of his hands. That’s what you’re going to do against great players. He’s been making shots, he made the four-point play. So I knew they were going to get it off his hands. I wanted to get it over to Ryan Boatright make a play and try to get to the bucket.”
Napier was terrific after the game, too, and much of it appears elsewhere on our site. But we learned he grew up wanting to be Superman, but he’s not, because Superman could do it alone. He needs his teammates. We learned that he’s claustrophobic and ran off the court because he didn’t want a big pile of people on top of him. And we found out that trainer James Doran, for some reason, taped his ankles extraordinarily tight, which helped when he twisted his ankle late in the game.
On a lot of levels, this is a player that will never be forgotten at UConn. Here is the UConn notebook for the Tuesday Courant.
And here is Jeff Jacobs’ take on the game.
From Billy Donovan:
“We made the decision that we were going to trap him. And we did trap him and we got him to take a very, very difficult, off balance shot. The guy that won the game for him was DeAndre Daniels. He made an unbelievable tip out, off balance, which kept the ball alive. We had guys that were on Napier run to the rim, to go defensive rebound, which left space for Napier. We needed to keep a guy there, and we didn’t. I thought we did a really good job defensively….I was more disappointed in the possession before where we were up by three. We had two opportunities to rebound the basketball. Those two offensive rebounds hurt us.
“… The last shot was kind of a fluke.”
“I was concerned coming down the stretch with Scottie being out. I didn’t think that we could guard Napier, at least for that three minutes. So we decided to play 1-3-1 zone and try to use our length….We went man just on the last possession.”
I tend to overlook postgame, head of the moment quotes, but Donovan could have been a little more gracious, could have given Napier his due here. Just me.
Here is Jeff Jacobs take on the game.
Kevin Ollie got a lot of credit for the play he drew up that freed Niels Giffey for the three that stopped Florida’s momentum. No surprise, though. He’s shown from Day One he’s a solid X’s and O’s coach – remarkable, in fact, for one who has only been doing it a year plus.
Here are some great photos by Mike McAndrews.
Plus-minus: Phil Nolan was minus 7, DeAndre Daniels plus 6, Niels Giffey plus 4. Omar Calhoun was plus 1, but he really struggled, going 1 for 5. 0 for 3 on threes.
Everyone was buzzing about the crowd. Niels Giffey saw the photo-shop of him wrestling an alligator and loved it. Daniels said it was the best atmosphere he’s play in during his time at UConn.
Niels Giffey gave a shout out to teammates Phil Nolan, who fouled out, and Tyler Olander, who nearly did. “They didn’t care too much about the fouls, they were on the bench cheering,” he said.
Kentan Facey got in for three minutes, Terrence Samuel and Leon Tolksdorf did not play. Nine Huskies played 10 minutes or more.
Here’s some more stuff, tweets, video from Sara Grant, Jake and myself.
Lots more, including box score, going up on our main website, check that out and we’ll catch up Tuesday.