Huskies Revert to Old Ways

If the Connecticut Huskies were "All in" on Saturday when they defeated Seton Hall, the only way to describe Monday's effort at Louisville would be "All out."

It has been a long time since the Huskies were embarrassed in this fashion. As Louisville pulled away in the second half, the game turned in a dunk fest and three-point contest for the Cardinals. In a blink of an eye, the Huskies went from 10 down to 30 down. The Huskies are still an NCAA Tournament team. But with the schedule ahead, that is going to be difficult to maintain. UConn has road games remaining at Syracuse, at Villanova, and at Providence. And there are home games against DePaul, Marquette, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

UConn now has lost seven times since Jan. 3. They've lost with Calhoun and without. The players have no idea whether their coach will be back this season or not. They called a meeting last Friday to renew their pledge to one another. That worked for one game – and one game only.

The upcoming seven games will determine how this season is remembered. Any more outings like the one at Louisville Monday night and the Huskies will head into Selection Sunday with a great deal of uncertainty.

And that never should have happened to a team with this much talent.

Here are the quote sheets from both coaches:

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino:

(Opening Statement)?"You know our guys continue to have a lot of fun. That was a display of the likes that I haven't seen in quite some time. When you hold (Andre) Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to zero points at halftime, you're playing great defense. The problem was that we were turning the ball over a little too much and we weren't getting the fruits of playing great defense. In the second half, we did, we didn't turn the ball over much, rebounded terrific, played aggressively. I think the passing was phenomenal. The unselfishness of that passing was incredible, with the exception of Angel Nunez. I just told him coming out of that timeout, I said, "Angel, let the shots come to you now. Let's run the offense and the shots will come to you." The last words weren't even out of my mouth when he took that shot. He loves to score. The guys put on a tremendous performance. They've been practicing great, having a lot of playing the game and that's what college basketball is all about."

(On Peyton Siva's play)?"I thought he was terrific because he didn't turn the ball over. What he's been doing is not changing pace and going at one speed. Tonight, he had a change of pace, pulled up for his mid-range jump shot, finding people, and he really made us go."

(What fun in practice looks like?)?"I wish. That was a tremendous display of passing and fast break and defense of the likes that I haven't seen too much."

(On potential of Gorgui Dieng not playing)?"No, he was fine. I was very surprised. We were lucky because it was an ankle sprain across the top of his foot, more so than a high ankle sprain, so we were very lucky. We actually could have used him yesterday, but obviously we weren't going to. I thought Jared Swopshire played terrific. I thought he did a very good job. Russ (Smith) and Peyton (Siva) really dogged the basketball. They did a great job of taking the pick and rolls away. Anything on the side, we played man to man and they did a great job of that."

(On controlling the boards)?"I think in the first half we ran to the rim quite a few times and in the second half we really hit people, but if you can get people to take difficult shots, your guards can come back to rebound. Our guards did a very good job of coming back. Kyle (Kuric) had nine, Chris (Smith) had six, Russ (Smith) had four and that's the key when you play big guys. The big guys are going to be pushed by the rim and you need your guard to come back and Chris Smith has done a great job. He had nine the other game. Seven of those nine rebounds last game were loose ball rebounds off the glass."

(Potential of team)?"That's about as good of a display that I've seen in quite some time. I'm happy that we're playing great defense. And feeding off of it they played very good defense in the first half. I think, for all our guys, this was a very good confidence builder. Going into a very rough stretch of at West Virginia and Syracuse at home, it's good for the guys to see that when you play great defense good things can happen offensively."

(On defending Jeremy Lamb)?"Certain teams we play well against and certain teams play well against us. Last year, it was a war every time. What we try to do is to keep teams as much as we can on the sidelines. I had a very close friend pass away, named Dick McGuire, who had a great expression. I asked him, ‘How good were you Dick?' About as humble of a man I have ever met, he said, ‘I was a great player, I couldn't shoot, but I was great because I could get to the middle of the floor.' He said inferior guards play on the sidelines and great guards play in the middle.' That's why you see the Isaiahs, the Magics, and the Chris Pauls get to the middle. What we try to do with guys like that is to keep them on the sideline as much as possible. We try to take their talents away, and we did a great job of that today."

(On the difference in the second half)?"I think we shot the ball well and played great defense. Guys deflate when their shot doesn't go in no matter how many times you tell them don't worry about it and play great defense. In football, you have a defensive team and an offensive team, but with basketball, no matter what level you are at, people play with more energy when the ball goes in the net. Peyton (Siva) was doing such a good job at finding people that we were getting wide open shots, so you have to give a lot of credit to him. I thought Chane (Behanan) continued to play like a big time rebounder inside. I was so happy that he finally made a 3. I thought Russ (Smith) gave us great pressure as well. The whole team played well."

(On Peyton Siva's outside shooting)?"I think the fact that he has taken his mid-range jump shot is what he needs to do. We say it all the time there is nothing wrong with him taking a 3, but I think where he had his problems was at the beginning of the year. He was trying to prove to everybody that he was a 3-point shooter. I told him that he has to prove that he is a great point guard. He is a good shooter, not a great shooter. He can makes shots, he works so hard at it, and he's only going to get better. Peyton concentrated tonight on being a great point guard and the shots where there for him. I thought Kyle (Kuric) got out of his funk, by doing other things instead of just shot the ball. I think that was really important for us as well."

Connecticut Associate Head Coach George Blaney:

(Opening Statement)?"One of the things about this league is that you don't want to play teams when they're on an uptick, and Louisville is really on an uptick. I thought they were when I watched them the last four games. I thought we were in good shape at the end of the half. We continued to not play very good offense, but we're playing terrific defense. We were on the floor for loose balls, we were competing and we were in fine shape. We came out start of the second half, didn't box out a couple times and just kind of turned them loose. The crowd is sensational here, they did get fired up, and they made seven or eight 3s in the second half shot, 50 percent and embarrassed us. That's not the way we play, that's not the thing that we been working on. But I have to give them a ton of credit for how tough and strong they played. Seventeen offensive rebounds and we were a little bit slow on the backboard."

(On if players felt embarrassed postgame)?"I sure hope they do. That was a pretty good beating in the second half. Fifty-one points and 50 percent shooting, seven or eight 3s I think."

(On Louisville's superior effort in second half)?"Yeah, that's exactly what we been working on the last couple of days, and how well we played. I thought our effort was terrific in the first half, I thought we were really exactly where we wanted to be. Except we didn't play very good offense, but we were still right there and all we needed to do was come out in the second half and do the same thing. I thought we just let it get away from us and as soon as it got to 10 we competed for a while and then it really got away."

(On play of Andre Drummond)?"I think he had a freshman night."

(On lack of perimeter shooting)?"It tells me we're not running offense mostly. We're settling for quick things or not moving the ball quickly enough we're not staying with things that we're trying to do. I think any time you play Rick's (Pitino) team, the defense is usually 2-3 matchup or whatever you want to call it. It's always a good defense. Quite honestly, I'm not convinced that it's as good as it usually is, I thought it was more offense then it was their defense. We had spent an incredible amount of time in the last couple days on the offense just to make sure we stayed in it and we got out of it."

(On lack of playmakers)?"We've still won 15 games; we're not a bad team. We just played bad in the second half and I think we've got enough kids that our good enough to lead and I'm just really concerned about how we're playing offensively. That's really the key issue I have."

(On team leaders)?"It's Alex (Oriakhi), Shabazz (Napier), and Jeremy (Lamb). It's all three of them."

(On how playing poor offense effects defense)?"It wears you down defensively because you're not making any baskets to keep it close. So now you have to come down every time and make a stop. It just wears you out. The other part is I thought we shot it too quick, which is exactly what Rutgers did against them. That's when they got their run outs against Rutgers and we had worked on that quite a bit to. But we took some quick shots and they got a bunch of run outs."

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