‘I couldn’t be prouder of them’

UConn head coach Jim Calhoun yells during the final moments against Syracuse in New York on Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

UConn coach Jim Calhoun often comes storming into postgame news conferences with guns a-blazing over his team’s performance in a loss.

Today was not one of those days.

It usually takes Calhoun a day or two (or a week) to appreciate the positive aspects of a loss. After the six-overtime game against Syracuse in 2009 there were some in the media who were stunned at how upset Calhoun was and that he couldn’t appreciate the game for what it had been and its unique nature (most of them didn’t know the man well, of course).

Anyway, Calhoun had plenty of positive things to say about his team after the 58-55 loss. He mentioned how proud he was of his players a number of times, while also saying he “loved” them quite a bit too.

“No one can tell me that it wasn’t a good team wearing blue today and played its butts off,” Calhoun said. “Did we shoot great? No. Did we make great decisions all the time? No. Did we play with great heart and did we play with great intensity and did we play for us and each other? Without a doubt. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

— The loss snapped the Huskies’ seven-game win streak in the Big East tournament and was also their first postseason loss of any kind in 14 games.

But the Huskies insist a different team is leaving New York than the one that couldn’t string together any wins earlier this season.

“I’ve just seen a change in the guys. Everybody’s really into each other, the chemistry is there. We’ve got that edge that we were missing,” Shabazz Napier said. “We’re starting to have a lot of fun.”

— Syracuse Jim Boeheim certainly thinks the Huskies are a decent team.

“I think Connecticut is a really good team,” Boeheim said. “I would be shocked if they don’t win two games in the NCAA Tournament…at the minimum.”

Calhoun obviously agrees.

“Let’s see, 22 out of our games of our 33 are against top 100 competition,” Calhoun saisd. “We have 10 wins against top 100 teams.

“I heard the Iona coach say ‘Don’t put one of these Big East teams in.’ He’s played four teams in the top 100,” Calhoun said.

(I think it was 8 or 9 top 100 teams Iona played but anyway…)

“I’m sure he’s a great coach and I have a lot of respect for what he’s done, certainly. But if you have to tighten those laces up 22 times. This team that you just saw (Syracuse), three times?” Calhoun said.

— UConn saw what was an 8-point lead with 12 minutes to play dwindle to 4 with 8 to play and then vanish. The Huskies had some offensive struggles and also some substitution issues, it seems.

“When we tried to use a couple different offensive players, they did a very poor job down the other end (on defense),” Calhoun said. “So we’re stuck in between now. Do we play Alex (Oriakhi) for defense or do we play someone else for offense? We got bad on both ends, quite frankly.”

— Boeheim talked about the Yahoo! story on drug suspensions (or lack there of) a little bit.

“That was reported five years ago, and we’re waiting for them to make _ finish the process,” Boeheim said.

We assume he meant reported to the NCAA. And you thought they dragged their feet with the UConn case?

It’s been a rough the year off the court for the Orange, not that it’s mattered much on it.

“News doesn’t matter. This is the media, this is you people’s thing,” Boeheim said of the Yahoo! report. “This doesn’t bother our players, our team or me. None of this. This is a media thing, period.

“If things bothered us we wouldn’t be 31-1. Nothing bothers us. We just play.”

“I’m much more concerned about my wife being mad at me than I am anything else,” Boeheim said.

Neill

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About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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