Athens, GA (Mar 27, 2009) -The Elite Eight comes tomorrow. The press conferences keep coming too. Here is the transcript of the University of Connecticut press conference, as provided by the NCAA. There are some really, for want of a better word, stupid questions from the press, and if anyone is creating a distraction for UConn, it is the media.
THE MODERATOR: We will welcome the UConn Huskies. I will ask Coach
Calhoun for a few opening remarks, and then we will have questions for
the student athletes. We'll dismiss them to their breakout sessions,
we'll keep Coach, we will have questions for the Coach.
Coach, general comments?
COACH CALHOUN: Last night after watching the tape of the game, I was
even happier the way we played. We had a couple of offensive droughts
which I think certainly was caused by Purdue's persistent defense. But
nevertheless otherwise, I thought we did a really good job
I thought we had great focus in the game. And I was really, really
happy the way we played, and obviously the last key on our board was
said the Regional Finals. That was the fourth key. Just as this week
it will be fourth key will be Detroit. So we are 80 minutes away, we
are 40 minutes away and Missouri is 40 minutes away. And a whole bunch
of folks when they get to this point are 40 minutes away from
something you say at the beginning of the season, believe maybe a
little bit at the beginning of the season, but then need time and wins
in order for it to come to fruition.
So we are excited about the opportunity to be here. We are excited
about certainly very respectful of what we saw from Missouri last
I watched Memphis. Obviously they have had great success four years
in a row with 30 wins a year and the defense was giving up 36 percent.
What Missouri did to that defense was absolutely astounding. The only
reason, quite frankly, they didn't put even more points is when they
slowed the game down a little bit and obviously Missouri excuse me,
Memphis being the team that it was, they fought their way back and had
a chance at the end.
But Missouri probably plays they advertise it as the 40est fastest
minutes in basketball, and I'm a believer. Usually I don't like
slogans, but that one is true and we really are facing an opponent
that we are going to have to walk a very delicate balance with.
Memphis wanted to run with them purely for 40 minutes and that is not
Connecticut's desire to run 40 minutes with Missouri. Memphis tried
it, and I think most teams that try it are not going to be that
successful with it. I think it is very hard to do. You get caught in
it. It wasn't because of John Calipari. Two or three easy baskets gets
you caught into it. But they are really good. They are really good and
they are nine deep and they all play the same, fast, hard and full
We will open for questions. Once again, I know on behalf of our
team, it is a very happy group of Huskies speaking to them this
HASHEEM THABEET: It is Hasheem.
Q. I'm sorry. Or I could just call you beast, right? The Missouri
big men had mentioned that maybe drawing you outside. I mean, this is
something I presume a lot of people try to do. How confident are you
that you can handle individually handle the pace of this game?
HASHEEM THABEET: Well, I'm just looking for pretty good, their big
guys are pretty good shooters. The key is going to be the team
defense, not just me. I always have my guys help me. A lot of times I
help them, so we're just going to go over there and play five as one
on the defensive end and we should be able to take care of the game
Q. For any of the players up there, are you guys worried about depth
being a problem tomorrow?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: Not at all. I mean, we played teams that try to
pressure us. For instance, Louisville, and we had a good run with
them. I feel like depth isn't really part of it. We're young guys. Our
adrenalin is going to be running, and we can't wait to get on the
JEFF ADRIEN: We are not too worried about fatigue or anything like
that. We played 30 plus games this year and six overtime games, so we
will be prepared for it.
A.J. PRICE: I don't think we will have a problem with fatigue or
depth or anything like that. We have a good core of guys and we can go
seven, eight guys deep if we need to as well. So I don't think it will
be a problem.
STANLEY ROBINSON: I think they pretty much summed it up right there,
to be honest with you. No sense of me just keep saying the same thing
Q. Stanley, the job that you worked in autumn was sheet metal,
STANLEY ROBINSON: Yeah.
Q. Can you describe what the typical workday is for a sheet metal
STANLEY ROBINSON: I mean, it was tough waking up at 7:00 in the
morning and then getting off at 4:30. It is life. You got to deal with
it. It is a average job. I got through it and I can look back on it
and say I am proud of myself.
Q. What did you do?
STANLEY ROBINSON: I was pretty much just boxing everything, copper,
doing whatever they tell me to do. I mean, like throwing like plastic
in boxes and stuff like that all day long.
Q. Craig, you guys have always been a good defensive team. It seems
like you have stepped it up a little bit more in the post season. Do
you think you have? What's been the difference?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: We definitely have. I mean, we know that it starts
with defense. We want to pressure the guy bringing the ball up and
having the big guy back there really helps. Come post season play it
really starts with defense and that's what we predicate our game on.
Q. Jeff and A.J., when you guys got Stanley back into the program,
can you describe what kind of an impact it had for your group?
JEFF ADRIEN: Stanley gives us another element to our team with his
athletic ability, getting to the rim and dunking and playing great
defense. It was just another guy we added to our team, just made us
very deep. And we just played having Stanley here is just, you know,
A.J. PRICE: I think we really had to adjust and adapt when we got
Stanley back. Because before he returned, we had the three guard
offense. That's when we had Jerome in our lineup so we were playing a
much faster paced game, more rugged type of game. With Stanley back,
we became more of a traditional team with having size in the wing. He
brings so much to the team.
I think we benefitted from it greatly on a defensive end by his
rebounding. So when we got him back, I think we became a more
traditional team again and it really helped us out.
Q. DeMarre Carroll of Missouri said he remembered playing against
you. He said one of the things he remembers most is he would always
end up on the winning side. Is that the same recollection that you
have of playing against DeMarre?
STANLEY ROBINSON: That's the truth. I'm looking to get him back, to
be honest with you. We were born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. We
always played each other in basketball on high school. They always won
on the winning end. It will be a great competition tomorrow. I'm
looking forward to it.
Q. A.J. and Craig, you guys have always been comfortable in a fast
paced game. As your Coach said, you don't want to get caught up in a
race with these guys. Will it be difficult is it tricky not being
lured into a race tomorrow? How much is it going to be upon you guys
to really set the pace?
CRAIG AUSTRIE: We love playing fast, but we saw what happened to
Memphis. They really fell into the trap of playing too fast. With A.J.
and myself, we have the ability to kind of control the game and see
what's going on out there, play with poise. So we feel like we are
going to have to do that tomorrow.
A.J. PRICE: You definitely don't want to get caught up with that
type of game with this team. We like to play fast, but we don't want
to play as fast as I think they want to play. That's kind of a
different different situation for us because we usually want to play
faster than most teams. But this team wants to go up and down all game
For us to do that I don't think would be smart. I think we have
obviously an advantage inside with our size. We would be foolish not
to slow the game down at times and use that to our advantage. I think
we will do a great job of determining when we should go fast, when we
should slow it up and when should we try to use our advantage inside.
Q. Can you talk about Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, what you have
seen of them on film and maybe what challenge they present to you guys
HASHEEM THABEET: It should be a good matchup. In the Big East we
face all kind of defensive matchups. Everybody is big and as strong as
you. This is post season play, so who want to win more? We are just
going to be out there ready for the challenge and do whatever we can
do to get a win.
STANLEY ROBINSON: I know they are a tough team and they like to play
up defense a lot. I think DeMarre, he likes to get to the basket a
lot. So Jeff and A.J. will be checking him. We will watch film on it
today to pretty much, like, check on it some more.
Q. Hasheem, what do you and the other big guys have to do to cope
with Missouri's defense which is probably going to be a bunch of
little guys swarming around you trying to get to the ball?
HASHEEM THABEET: Again, it is tough when we get the whole team, when
we play the team defense, it will be tough. I know my guys will do a
good job of slowing the ball down so we can play half court defense.
Once we stay out there on half court defense, then we can be really
Q. A.J., the natural comparison for us to look at is Louisville
Missouri. How exactly are they like Louisville and how are they
A.J. PRICE: Well, I think their pressure is kind of different in a
sense. Louisville has a traditional 2 2 1 matchup type of pressure.
This team, they switch it up throughout the team. They really won't
give you the same look.
Sometimes they will just trap out of nowhere. They really don't have
any sense of structure to their pressure. They just like to pressure
you and speed you up.
In a sense, Louisville tried to do the same thing but we handled it
well. So, I mean, whatever they throw at us, we are going to have to
be ready for it. I think we did a great job in practice preparing for
that, looking at film. We are prepared for that as well. We just need
to control the ball, try to limit the turnovers and make the right
decisions. And, like I said, know when to attack and know when to slow
it down a little bit.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the players.
Q. Jim, can you talk about the difference between the kind of
pressure that Missouri plays, the kind of pressure that I guess the
antecedent, the Arkansas 40 minutes of hell played and other kinds of
defenses that you have faced before?
COACH CALHOUN: Going back to Nolan and of course Mike's background,
that 40 minutes of hell certainly was for an awful lot of teams.
The relentless nature and I do think that, quite frankly the kids
are out of sight. I'm a little more concerned with depth than they are
(smiling), because one thing I thought they did, even though it took
Memphis time to come back, by the end Memphis had either fouled out
all their significant players or in fact didn't have the gas to
continue the game.
Now, part of that had to do with making the big comeback. But part
of that had to do with the style that Missouri plays. So if it
compares I really watch that team. We have been a pressing team and I
have been a pressing coach for 30 something years. But the fanatical
controlled pressure that can come out of anywhere, and it evolved
years ago from the run and jump from Dean Smith to so many great
coaches, Tom Davis who really, really had that.
And then I think that without question Nolan probably for four or
five year period became such a difficult team to play because you just
if you didn't have teams where your individual players can make plays,
the whole idea behind it is to create opportunities where someone gets
thrown the basketball out of a double team, now you got to make a
play. It is not your plays, it is your players. They try to have you
make a play.
I always remember Nolan talking a great deal about that, that he
wants to set you up. Certainly the apple hasn't fallen far from the
tree. Mike wants the same thing. He wants you to make plays. If you
have five great players to make plays, great. Most of us don't have
five guys that can just make plays. That's why they've been so
successful. It does remind me a great deal of what Arkansas did.
I think the delicate balance we are going to have to maintain
obviously the kids have listened very well. We met last night right
after the game. The kids watched the first half of the game here, the
last ten minutes back at the hotel. We met afterwards and we started
talking first thing the delicate balance between getting caught in a
game. Memphis is a terrific team. They get caught into a game that
they like but don't always play exactly like that. Every time that
Missouri rolls the ball out, I can tell you that's how they play. They
play very well at that. Certainly one of the best teams obviously by
being in the Final Eight in the country of doing that.
So if you play a team at its strength and think that you are going
to overwhelm them by doing that, why would we waste a 7 foot 3 guy, a
guy that scores almost 1600 points now in Jeff Adrien Hasheem just
went over 1,000 why would we waste those guys in nothing more than a
full court game before they will basically be at the top of the key,
top of the key. We want to get the ball to them. The delicate balance
is don't get sucked into a game that's too fast for you.
Conversely, attack pressure to make them pay a price because they
probably will get some steals. They will probably get a couple
Q. Along that same line, how important is ball handling tomorrow? Do
you have enough of them to handle it?
COACH CALHOUN: You know, obviously I have great confidence in the
three guards, and Donnell Beverly who helped us a lot last year, as
you remember correctly, in that nine games without Jerome. We tried to
rest A.J. had a little tweak. He's fine. We tried to rest A.J. a
little bit and played Donnell particularly far out an awful lot more.
We started right off attacking pressure. That was the first thing we
did. Then we tried to go against their offense by playing defense.
That's the first thing we did. We just feel that is what separates
So we are going to need people to handle the ball. We try to throw
Jeff, Hash, Gavin and Sticks the ball in awkward situations and then
make sure we hit outlet passes from those. Once again, you don't
average ten steals a game we had a great team back in 1990 that
averaged 12 1/2 and they are not that far away from that great
pressing team we had back in 1990. They cause chaos without question.
I'm just concerned that we do a good job early, particularly of
rotating people and, yet, staying on top of our game.
Q. Last night you mentioned that you got goose bumps when you were
talking to your team about playing in another regional final. You
don't seem like a guy who gets goose bumps a lot. What is it about
COACH CALHOUN: You don't think I'm warm and fuzzy? That's usually
what they say.
Q. What is it about this game besides the obvious stakes of playing
in another Final Four that makes it so special for you, especially
considering you played in a number of them already.
COACH CALHOUN: I can tell you, very honestly, last year when I went
through a very difficult summer with battling cancer and going through
it, we made some changes in our team. Not to disparage anybody, but
addition by subtraction, and this particular group of kids with the
addition of Kemba and some of the other kids made our team just an
incredibly likeable team.
Jeff grew up some more. A.J. Price, as you can see, even verbally,
but he does that to his teammates, gave much more of himself. Hasheem
has always been a great jokester, gave more.
Bottom line is the team became incredibly likeable. It was really
great tonic for me, okay, to have this team. And when two of them,
Craig and unfortunately A.J. wasn't playing because he had a near
death experience, but when they started, they started out on a 32 3
team that went to lost to George Mason in the Final Eight. But that
team didn't focus down the stretch and, yet, they were incredibly
talented and a great group of kids but just didn't put the package
This particular team has had to fight back from a number of
different things, given particularly the Jerome Dyson injury. It
appears and some of you guys have mentioned this already that they
have. At least in post season play, we certainly have. Are we a better
team? No. But we are a different team. We are playing pretty good
The reason the game might have appeared to be ragged yesterday,
Purdue makes you look ragged. Bottom line, when this team was 17 14,
the worst record in 20 something years at UConn, they are all
freshman, sophomores and they persevered, Jeff, Craig, a whole group
of them, and now they're here.
I don't know if obviously you always want to get to a Final Four.
Obviously you want to get to a national championship. I think it would
be very, very special. Them passing 30 wins yesterday was very special
for me. Because I believe this is an incredible group of kids who have
stuck with it.
In life many times it is easy to criticize. It is easy to give up.
It is easy to do a lot of things. It is hard to stick with it. It is
hard to stick with people sometimes whether you believe in them or
not, whether you really believe in them.
They believed in UConn. They believed in me, which is nice. They
believed in what we're trying to do. And so for that, if we can get
them to a Final Four and hopefully beyond that, but if we can get them
to a Final Four, it would be a just reward for a group of kids who
have really, really experienced some adversity this year and, yet, won
30 games and became the No. 1 seed.
That's a long all my answers are a longwinded answer to something
that's really, really meaningful to me.
Q. Obviously it is going to be valuable to have Hasheem inside
against Missouri the way they like to attack the basket. How do you
make sure that Missouri can't keep him out on the perimeter or even on
the bench with foul trouble?
COACH CALHOUN: The foul trouble I have no control over. I try. I try
my darnedest but it doesn't work. I don't have control of that.
I wouldn't have called that goaltending yet, but I had no control
over it. My point being simply I won't have control of the foul
trouble. But have other teams always tried to make sure the high pick
and roll is always Hasheem's man? Yeah. That's the guy that sets the
high pick and roll normally just to make sure he is not down low.
Everybody has tried to do that. Sometimes been successful. Sometimes
Notre Dame did that with Harangody. When they did it back at our
place, we were able to beat them twice. Once again, some nights you
are able to work it pretty well.
Last year when we played San Diego in the tournament, he wasn't the
same player. They put a kid outside that made jump shots and we lost
the game by one at the buzzer.
My point is we kind of assume that Mike knows how to coach.
Therefore, we know he will try to get him away from the basket in
every way possible. But somehow or another usually 7 foot 3 guys kind
of drift and migrate back towards the rim.
Q. You mentioned your worries a little bit with the depth of your
team. You also talked a little bit about Missouri, what they do
defensively, bringing different schemes at you defensively. Does not
only physical fatigue worry you but mental fatigue, having to be
worried about Missouri's different schemes at all times?
COACH CALHOUN: If you try to handle it, which we did today, we took
some of our stuff. We did last night on the blackboard. We did it
today during the 90 minutes and simplified it. Tried to handle
basically three or four different looks the same ways.
You know what I'm saying? Even though they may have come from
different angles, we tried to handle it the same way. For example,
instead of running certain plays, we just run a stack offense. We
start out with a basic stack. Now, from there if you want to zone us
or you want to match up on us or you want to play man on us, we can
run we have things we can run automatically out of that. So that's the
kind of stuff we did today, the 1 4 offense. We went to that today
because we run that against both man, zone and matchup, the three
things they employ.
Q. With Craig playing well yesterday and Stanley doing well in the
tournament, do you feel like you can really count on everybody now?
Where different parts of the season, it hasn't always been the case.
COACH CALHOUN: There is no question. I think very simply up until
the time Jerome went down and we were 24 1, we could count on most
everybody. Georgetown beat us, but most everybody.
After that there is no question that we got a couple more wins. But
down the stretch we lost the two games to Pittsburgh and that six
overtime game to Syracuse.
And the team's psyche, swagger, whatever you want to call it, was
shaken a little bit. Yeah, we didn't get as much consistency because
we are trying to find ourselves. Have we truly found ourselves? If we
get to Detroit, we'll find ourselves. If we get to Detroit, we'll find
ourselves. I don't even know yet, given Missouri's matchups I know
Memphis is a terrific team.
Given their matchup and given our matchups, I don't know what that
really, truly means, what each team has done to win three games to get
here. You won't know that until it settles its way out and you look
back upon it. Do we have three good matchups for us? I didn't think
Purdue was a great matchup for us because they didn't want to play the
way we wanted to play. So I thought it was going to be a more
difficult matchup because normally they run that motion and continue
to run that motion. And it became, quite frankly, the most difficult
game we had. Now, it should have because of the seeding and the place
in the tournament, the Sweet 16.
Nevertheless, most of that stuff will be decided tomorrow. Do I feel
more comfortable now knowing the way Stanley is playing, watching
Craig get 17 points yesterday, Jeff not having a great game, yet, us
still being able to do what we do, putting Stanley at the four, some
of the things we have been able to do over the past four or five
games, in particular here in the tournament, without question I feel
more comfortable without question. More importantly, me feeling
comfortable, no one really cares if I sleep or not, do the kids feel
more comfortable on the court? And it appears like they do.
Q. With the fear you have got or at least the concern you've got
about the Missouri fast break, might you have to sacrifice some
COACH CALHOUN: For a coach who has always believed that you can
outrebound any team in any game and we have had a pretty good record
of doing so, Top Ten for the past I think it is 14, 15, 16 times in
the past 20 years we are going to be there, one of those teams. It is
really hard for me to truly believe that we are going to concede any
type of offensive rebounding.
Purdue did for a while last night, yesterday's game early, once we
got that lead 16 6. They conceded the boards and went back and played
and didn't give us easy hoops. But, you know, I almost can't see
myself not stopping this, but I can't get a 7 foot 3 guy to release
early and go back and give up on a rebound. I can't get Jeff Adrien to
do that. I would be foolish to have Stanley Robinson do that. We have
worked on rotations today making sure when A.J. drives, weak side
wing, rotates back, and what all has to happen after the talk here
today, more importantly, the action tomorrow, the fact that we follow
Once again, we'll leave here after our commitments, then go out to
eat and then go back and watch quite a bit of tape and relax and get
up in the morning and get ready for a basketball game.
Q. What do you make of the all Big East regional final of Pitt and
Villanova being hosted by Boston College which treated the Big East
like it did? Ironic, isn't it?
COACH CALHOUN: I'm in enough trouble as it is. I just would rather
I have been blamed for the economy recently. I have been I would say
I like your word. It is very ironic. It is very ironic. By the way, it
is a heck of a matchup. Villanova was sensational last night. I think
Pitt is as good as any team in the country and Villanova is making a
pretty good run at being a very difficult team to play. So it really
but ironic is a great word. Thank you (smiling).
Q. Even though they speeded up Memphis last night, it looked like
when they were in their half court offensive, Missouri, they were very
effective. Did that come through on the tape?
COACH CALHOUN: No question.
Q. Was that a factor of Memphis being sort of out of kilter when
they got back on defense?
COACH CALHOUN: I think when John I don't know this obviously. I
think John in one of his timeouts said we got 16 minutes on the clock.
We are down 18, down 17, I think, about that time. Let's get two
points at a time and get a stop.
By that time, you're right, until the game got kind of open again
for them and I think we all would agree that Missouri had to become a
little defensive, they were starting to play the clock a little bit at
maybe the eight minute mark. As I'm watching it, yeah, Memphis was
speeding up and, quite frankly, Missouri was slowing them down. So the
game kind of changed.
But when a team takes you out of what you want to do or a team beats
you at something you think you are really good at, it can be very,
very it can be very disabilitating to a team, to a psyche makeup when
it gets a fear that when it thinks it does exceptionally well. I think
that's what Missouri did by dominating. I think Mike said it. They
attacked Memphis who has got a terrific defense. I thought what
happened, they fed off that and become a much better defensive team.
Down the stretch they gave up some hoops. Now they are a balancing act
of the clock and time score situation kind of thing.
Q. Back to the question of the Big East, obviously the tournament's
faith in your conference has been well rewarded with the results in
this tournament. To what extent did the toughness of that conference
make your team what it is today as opposed to your psyche getting
damaged by Pitt in a six overtime game late? And is this the most
dominant conference we have seen in college basketball in any one
COACH CALHOUN: I think it is. I can only speak of my 23 years in the
Big East and we have had some awfully good players go through in that
time. At one point we have five teams in the Top 15 in America.
Terrific basketball teams. Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, all of those
people going through it around the same time.
I have seen some great just as I joined, we had just come off the
year before three teams in the Final Four. So but if you took it from
16 to 1, I mean, there are so many tough outs along the way. There are
so many tough places to have to go play. It happened to be here that
Hasheem came back, Flynn came back. You could name the All Star team
that came back and it hasn't happened every year in our league.
We are a team loaded we are a conference, excuse me, loaded with
some great players who all came back with veteran teams. And I have
said 1,000 teams but truly believe that Georgetown, Notre Dame Notre
Dame is now playing very well but that those teams are really good but
they get caught in a cycle of having to play five teams in the Top 25
in a relatively short period of time. Georgetown did, by the way,
right in a row. And they had a couple young kids and if you get on a
one game, it could become a three or four game losing streak like
I have never been in a conference where that happens. Usually it is
a tough game, semitough game and maybe a game that you are superior
talent wise. But that wasn't really the case much at all this year. It
really wasn't. We had some great teams at the top.
Louisville, by the way, all the time kept getting better. Pittsburgh
was almost good from the get go. It seemed to me Villanova has grew as
they have gone on.
Syracuse got healthy. Rautins was hurt. When they lost three out of
four or four or five games, they lost their center and their best
shooter. And they're healthy now. It really, really became a league
that became just so impossible for every game.
I look back upon them and I'm astounded how well our kids did and
every one of our coaches should be. We lost one road game this year.
And it was to that league, one of the best accomplishments of any team
in 23 years it might be the best accomplishment regular season. I
mean, we've had a 17 1 in our league. But that might be the best
accomplishment we have had of any single feat to go 8 1 in our league
on the road. That's how hard it was.
We went to West Virginia, Louisville, et cetera, Pittsburgh and so
on and won at some Marquette very, very difficult places.
Q. Just regarding the recent controversy, your program put out a
statement. You addressed it, both times by saying you wouldn't have
any more to say. So I saw you quoted twice in national publications
today. I was wondering if you would like to comment any further on any
mistakes that may have been made, as you alluded to, in one of the
COACH CALHOUN: I was asked a particular question. I will say that.
The first thing I know you all out there have a job to do. I truly I
know it doesn't seem like I recognize your job, but I actually do
realize that you have to work for a living and actually have to inform
the public and put out the printed word. There is no question, and let
people know what's going on. Our fans are hungry to know what's going
But we cannot we are not the ones that are going to judge UConn.
Quite frankly, it is going to be people at the NCAA level and the 200
500 I said yesterday when they asked me could a mistake have been
made, my quote was "in a 508 page manual, a mistake could have been
made." Do I know if any has been made? No, I'm not making judgment one
way or the other. I said could there have been a mistake made.
As we speak, I know Jeff Hathaway, our athletic director, our
compliance people, and our outside counsel I had a conversation with
them this morning and, by the way, right after practice because I need
to have them answer a question for me on how the process is going. But
I am not going to by any stretch of the imagination make judgment upon
us. Because my judgment didn't make any difference.
Quite frankly, the University's judgment except I truly believe in
what we have intended and tried to do as a program. And I said, if we
made mistakes, someone else will judge that for us out of that 508
page manual, that is the NCAA manual. It is really that simple.
If I didn't say that to everybody else, then I apologize because I
know, once again, people are asking you what's the story. But I'm not
going to make public comment on something that the governing body of
college athletics is going to comment on. So I'm going to keep it at
that. Once again, I understand what you need to do, but all I can do
is just tell you, repeat that comment that I made yesterday and
probably should have made it up here.
When I said something yesterday, you were probably tired of
listening to me, but everybody just about left. I'm not making an
excuse. I'm saying I was going to say something similar, and I'm glad
you asked the question. I have a responsibility, first, to my
institution, to my kids, to my program. I believe that we always try
to do the right things. And all I said very simply, out of our 508
page manual it will be up to the judgment of the NCAA did we in fact
make or not make a mistake. They are getting information as we speak.
And that will be decided by other people, not us.
And so all I can do is that we play Missouri tomorrow, get my team
as ready as I possibly can for Missouri and no more. Would I like
everybody in the world to have great faith and confidence in me and
maybe give this a shot? Yeah. Very honestly and candidly, of course I
would. Is that going to happen? Of course it isn't. That's not the
nature of the way things are. People by nature are going to question
what you do and what you don't do.
I have done this for 37 years. I truly believe that everything I
have tried to do I have done with a good, clean conscious and if we
made a mistake, we'll find out about it. If we didn't, we will also
find out about that.
Q. How difficult and exhausting a year has this been for you with
your health issues before the season started, during the season, some
well publicized situations obviously
COACH CALHOUN: I don't know about that. Well publicized, when I
yelled at somebody, I was called a bully. And then I didn't say
anything, and I was guilty. Which way do you want to have it? Just
tell me. I'm not going to do what you ask me to do. If you tell me, it
is not going to make any difference. Point being, which way do you
want it? Just tell me. Someone said that he didn't yell, therefore he
was guilty. Someone said I bullied somebody when someone asked me
about salary. Not at UConn but about Comcast. All I'm saying to you is
all I'm trying to do is do my job. Understand that you have a job to
I didn't answer your question, did I?
Q. Has it been a particularly tough and exhausting year? Does it
have you thinking at all of possible retirement in the near future?
COACH CALHOUN: Couple guys have asked me that and rightfully so.
Every single year a few years ago, I was going up from Charlotte with
Dean Smith. I was not in the hall of fame at the time. I asked him
very simply, Coach, why did you get out. Said, I got out at 67 years
of age. I will turn 67 in May, by the way. He said, I loved the
coaching. The other stuff, and he didn't mean just media, he meant all
the other stuff that surrounds our game at times, all the other
various aspects and all the I think all the I always have said that
the faculty senate wants nothing but Rhodes Scholars.
Many of the fans want a waiver wire. So you pick someone up on the
fly. Other people want a perfect performance by you every single night
and you to be Gentleman Jim. Whatever the case may be, you are not
going to please all those people.
My point is, after a while, all the other stuff can get to it. That
was Dean's point when got out of coaching. He said he never left
coaching because of basketball.
So this year or any other given year, I always reflect he said,
don't ever but the great thing he said to me, don't ever make a
decision after a great win or after a bad loss. Particularly don't
make it after a season. Wait some time to see how things look.
I love my team. I love coaching. I have really enjoyed this team. So
I think the final answer to your thing is, this team has made this
season very joyful for me personally. Has there been some trials and
tribulations? Without question.
But it seems like for a lot of us in this business, that's part of
the job that we do. If you want to be in the highlight program, you
are going to be able to inhale the heat. There is heat brought if you
are going to be a No. 1 seed, then that's or in the NCAA tournament,
or in the Big East, if you are going to be at that level, then there
is going to be scrutiny. People are going to write, say whatever about
you. That's just part of the nature of what we do.
So I would wait like I do every spring and late in the spring to
make any kind of decision about my future. My future right now is I
want to coach, and most importantly I want to coach against Missouri
Q. Just to be fair, wanted to give you a chance to respond to a
report out of Tampa today that Josh paid for Nate Miles to have
surgery down there about a year ago year or two ago.
COACH CALHOUN: I have no response. Thank you.
Q. Most of us have been with you through most of those 27 years.
COACH CALHOUN: Actually you have.
Q. Sadly or not. I guess the question is, the most anybody has in
their profession is their reputation. I wonder how you you are in the
hall of fame. You have done a number of tremendous things for the
profession. How does it feel closer to the end of your career than the
beginning to have to be in a position I'm not asking you specifics of
anything but just generally being in a position of having to defend,
talk about the NCAA. Is that just part of the business? Or are you
offended by it? Hurt by it? Or it doesn't matter?
COACH CALHOUN: No, it does matter. I'm a human being. I wear my
emotions on my sleeves. I think everybody who knows me knows that.
I think depending upon the source, it can be very hurtful,
certainly. No one likes to have their integrity I have done this for
37 years. I'm not going to go back to every single thing that has ever
happened to me. But as far as any NCAA violation that Jim Calhoun has
been accused of not a kid in his program, not a plane ticket or
anything of that nature. After 37 years, I guess that it is somewhat
hurtful, not that someone said it couldn't happen, but not to give
time to see if something did happen and to jump right in, especially
if you know me.
So I guess you don't really know me or don't care. Is that a little
hurtful? I have a lot of respect for a lot of you people whether you
realize it or not. We don't always agree, but I have a lot of respect
for you. Sometimes you just jump. You don't need to jump. You don't
know me, jump. But if you have a feeling about what I have tried to do
for 37 years, has it always been right? Nope. Have I been wrong?
You know, a lot of words and other things I would like to take back.
Anybody who is as emotional as I am, without question. You and I, as a
matter of fact I said something to you I still remember back at Boston
Garden, When are you going to win the big game? And I jumped on you. I
have great, incredible respect for you. It hurt more for you to say
that than someone else. That's why I said it's the source many times.
Q. (Question of microphone).
COACH CALHOUN: Thanks. I appreciate that. I was going to say two,
but I will leave it at that.
But I remember the day. I remember standing right there with you
because I had great respect for you. I do read The Times. I read you.
And I had great respect for what you had to say. What you like to do
is have people give you the benefit of the doubt over what you earned.
If it was my first year in coaching, tenth year in coaching, okay. I
think I have tried to do the best I can. I have always been the person
every judgment I have ever made in life about every single thing I
have done can't always be accurate. And I speak for all the rest of us
in the room, too.
Q. Am I being unfair if I suggest that it's your job to know what's
in those 508 pages?
COACH CALHOUN: Do you think every NCAA investigator knows what's in
every one of those 508 pages? You think so?
Q. In general, yes.
COACH CALHOUN: In general, they know every single interpretation.
Q. That's why they have the job. That's why there is only 20 of them
on earth. In general.
COACH CALHOUN: Overall, I would assume it is my job to know it is
not my job to know what every human being whoever graduated from UConn
is doing at every single moment 24 hours a day.
Is it my responsibility according to that 508 pages? Yes. That's
what the Net says. The Net says you are responsible for anybody who
graduated from UConn, anybody who represents the athletic interest of
UConn, lifetime, all that kind of stuff.
I think I have a pretty good knowledge of the NCAA book. Do I know
every single particular up until September, you couldn't leave
messages I mean, you could leave messages, now you can't. It counts as
one phone call a week. Things that affect you in every single day
basis by the way, if you call the NCAA and they really stopped us
doing that so we call the conference office, you will get different
interpretations over different things because it all has to be put in
context. It can't just be a simple answer. So no one in my opinion
knows every single answer. It has to be put in context.
There are extenuating circumstances. There are a whole different
kind of thing. What I'm going to do right now is very simply tell you
we are trying to get ready for Missouri. All I'm very simply telling
you is that back home my athletic director and the people there and
the only people that can control that are working on that. All I'm
trying to do is get our team to hopefully get us a trip to Detroit by
playing a terrific Missouri team.
Q. The hall of fame status, the national championships, all your
victories, maybe that should earn you the benefit of the doubt. But
the way the world is is that seldom anybody gets the benefit of the
doubt. Do you feel like you have become a distraction to this team?
And did anybody talk to you about stepping aside until this is cleared
COACH CALHOUN: Did we play yesterday?
Q. Yes, you did.
COACH CALHOUN: And we won, right?
COACH CALHOUN: To answer your question simply, no. I think my
athletic director came out with a supportive I'm very supportive of
Jim, myself, the president, et cetera, and his job is to go out and
try to win try to beat he said yesterday Purdue. Now it will be
And that's my job. My job right now is I have no control over those
other things until I go back home. And then, as I said, I won't ever
have control of it. It will be controlled by the people that were a
member of the association, the NCAA.
Q. The heart of my question is do you feel like you have become a
distraction to this team?
COACH CALHOUN: No, I don't at all.
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