UConn’s Season in Quotes

A look back at the 2011-12 UConn basketball season and some of its memorable quotes:

*October 19: “As talented as some of these young kids may be, they aren’t magical. Every one of you that saw Kemba play, every one of you who are sports fans, you could feel the magic he gave his teammates. And that’s a tough thing to find.” — Jim Calhoun at Big East media day

*October 26: “I really firmly believe that this club is much more talented and poses much more of a dilemma in matching up than the team that won the national title last year. I really believe that.” — ESPN analyst Dick Vitale

*November 6: The things I saw today, I couldn’t really explain. I’m trying to figure out why and how? What does (Drummond) eat? What is he doing? It’s like … you don’t see a talent like that. I don’t know, man. I’m just speechless.” — Shabazz Napier on Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond (AP)

*November 9: “I wasn’t always a bad free throw shooter, but my arms got longer out of nowhere. I don’t know what happened, but it kind of threw me off a little bit. I have to figure out all the muscle memory and get it back again.” — Andre Drummond

*November 12: “We gotta get Ryan (Boatright) back and I have no idea, I have not been informed of anything (from the NCAA).  I’m not going to say too much more, but it’s not unexpected.” — Calhoun

*November 12: “I thought we’d be a dominating rebounding team…we’re an awful rebounding team. Awful. That’s two games in a row I’ve watched teams get shot after shot.” — Calhoun

*November 15: “The bench is pretty dead compared to last year when guys were jumping around as if they scored the basket. This year, I think guys are being a little selfish.” — Alex Oriakhi

*November 18: “I knew coming into college I wasn’t going to be the superstar guy. I’m not here to take the role of Kemba Walker. I’m not here to be the next anybody. I’m here to play basketball and learn the game. Hopefully, we win a lot of games and go onto the national championship.” — Drummond

*Novermber 23: “I guess you’re supposed to keep your legs crossed going down, and (Roscoe Smith) had his legs open, so he was doomed from the start. He went down (to the bottom), all the water in his mouth. When he gets down there, mind you, it’s three feet deep, it looks like he’s about to drown. He’s screaming for help. The lifeguard was just like ‘really?’ He’s climbing on walls trying to get out the water.” — Shabazz Napier’s recap of Roscoe Smith’s waterslide experience in the Bahamas

*November 26: “It was almost surreal to watch how we played — or how we didn’t play.” — Calhoun after the loss to Central Florida

*December 4: “He’s not afraid. That’s one of the big issues for all athletes, to never have any fear. I don’t think he fears making a mistake. Obviously, I love that kind of player.” — Calhoun on Ryan Boatright

*December 8: “In our system, you have to be able to handle, occasionally, being criticized for your performance. I tell the kids it’s hard to play here. It’s hard to play here because the expectations are very high.” — Calhoun on playing at UConn

*December 8: “I’ve told my mom ever since I was little ‘I want to be a computer engineer.’ I’ve been fixing our computer at home forever. I always find ways to make it work.” — Drummond

Jim Calhoun (AP)

*December 18: “(Shabazz and I) had a meeting of the minds. That’s an interesting place, his mind and my mind. Talk about confusion.” — Calhoun

*December 22: “With 12, 13, 14 minutes to go, we looked up at the scoreboard, saw we were up 20 and we decided it was time to go home for Christmas.” — Calhoun after UConn survived a scare from Fairfield

*January 2: “I don’t even know who that is. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. They said the name to me in practice and I was like ‘Wait, who’s Herb Pope?’” — Drummond

*January 3: “That was one of the stupidest things I’ve read. Andre Drummond…why would he know who Herb Pope was? He probably knew who No. 15 was. He probably doesn’t know the name. That’s how we do it — stop No. 2, stop No. 14. If I told  Freddie Wilson to stop Vincent Council, he’d be like ‘Who the heck is that?’ It doesn’t mean they don’t watch film. You play so many games against so many great players — it’s just one of those things.” — Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard

*January 6: “When I contemplated over the spring and summer about what I was going to do, I had grandeur at times of being Al McGuire, and that’s it. We won the national championship, we had done some great things. But I always felt there was something hanging a little bit out there…The University, all of us included, were penalized, and I wanted to make sure I was that sat out, that I was the guy who finalized it.” — Calhoun after returning from his three-game NCAA suspension

*January 7: “There’s not a lack of leadership. There’s none.” — Calhoun after the loss to Rutgers

*January 9: “Life’s all about getting up in the morning, hopefully it’s a good morning, smooth sailing. Other times you get knocked on your ass. It’s not about how you get knocked on your ass, it’s about how you get up, what you do after that. We got knocked on our ass the last couple of games, off our kilter a little bit.” — Calhoun the day after the Rutgers loss

*January 10: “I thought Andre Drummond was special tonight. He hasn’t been special all season — he’s been good — as you would expect for a freshman. But tonight, he was special.” — Calhoun after Drummond’s 20-point, 11-rebound performance against West Virginia.

*January 10: “Everyone wants to catch it and I used to have an assistant say ‘they killed ants.’ There wouldn’t be a damn ant alive if they had any in here. I’m telling you we would have killed them all. We just dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and dribble it and we don’t pass the ball.” — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins

Ryan Boatright (AP)

*January 15: “It is one person who is out to get them. The NCAA is wrong to keep following up on this.” — a source on Ryan Boatright’s second eligibility review

*January 18: “If you can’t invest yourself fully into the game, and not worry about a little cough you have, you know what I’m saying — small things, we don’t have time for that. You have to invest yourself. If you invest yourself in anything in life, you’re going to be just fine.” — Calhoun after a 70-67 loss to Cincinnati

*January 29: “Someone said we’re putting on the (Nike) Elite uniforms because we’re elite. We played the opposite today.” — Calhoun after a 50-48 loss to Notre Dame

*February 1: “We missed a ton of shots that a Division I basketball player — and us, at UConn — should make.” — Calhoun following the 58-44 defeat at Georgetown

*February 1: “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to keep working. We’re going to keep pushing. Tomorrow is going to be longer. We’re going to go after it.” — Calhoun

*February 3: “University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun will take an indefinite medical leave of absence to deal with worsening spinal stenosis.” — UConn athletic department

*February 4: “I don’t mind getting blown out. I do have an issue when the refs enjoy the blow out. And I don’t think they should be smiling or enjoying one team getting their butt kicked and another team not.” — Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard

Ryan Boatright (AP)

*February 6: “It was basically embarrassing. Guys were just dunking on us. It was very embarrassing and frustrating.” — Oriakhi after an 80-59 loss at Louisville

*February 10: “Whether or not some of these things go into altering how we prepare, how we played that night…I mean, yeah, that possibly affected it, but that’s what good teams overcome. We had some adversity last year and we were able to overcome that.” — George Blaney on the team’s distractions

*February 14: “Coach Blaney, KO, all the assistants, they’re all real smart and they’re doing a great job. But coach Calhoun is the backbone. You’ve got to do something right or….you all know how Calhoun is.” — Ryan Boatright

*February 16: “He’s like Gronkowski. He catches everything.” — Blaney on Andre Drummond

*February 18: “I hate to say it — I gotta question a lot of these guys’ hearts…At the end of the day, I’m the only one who wants to speak out. Everybody else in the locker room wants to stay quiet like we just died.” — Napier after the loss to Marquette

*February 21: “Shabazz speaks a lot all the time, so I’m not going to worry about that. He’s a competitor, he wants us to do well. Sometimes he talks a little too much, but he’s fine. The team is fine with it. They knew that, in most cases, he was probably right.” — Blaney

*February 25: “It’s a tough situation for the referees — they probably didn’t want to have the game be decided on (a foul). But I got fouled, everybody’s seen it. If you didn’t see it, it will be on TV.” — Roscoe Smith

*February 28: “No disrespect to (Providence), but this is one of the games you put a ‘W’ by before you even play.” — Napier

*February 28: “Give credit to Providence, they’re a great organization.” — Smith

*March 2: “It’s nice collecting trophies and those kind of things, but it’s more important to be there when things aren’t going as well. And right now they haven’t gone as well as we’d like.” — Calhoun on his return from back surgery

Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi (AP)

*March 3: “When I looked on the sidelines, he would always pump me up. There’s just something about him — he just brings that energy and it makes me want to fight harder, even when I’m tired, on my last straw. He just pumps his fist and I’m like ‘I’m not done. I’m going to keep going.’” — Napier on Calhoun

*March 7: “It took us much longer than I could ever anticipate — and I was gone for the last eight — to find it. Is it magic? No, it’s just us. It’s just us understanding each other, how much we can benefit, okay, if we give each other all that we have, and I think we have.” — Calhoun after his team rallied to defeat West Virginia in overtime for a Big East tournament second round victory

*March 8: “I would be shocked if Connecticut didn’t win two games in the NCAA tournament — at the minimum.” — Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim after his Orange escaped MSG with a 58-55 victory over UConn

*March 13: “When you put 26 years of your life into something, you want to make sure it keeps going. People keep talking about my age, whether I’m going to be here or not be here. Forget that for the moment. In the past 23 years, only five teams have averaged 25 wins: We’re one of them…We’re not going away is what I’m saying…I hope to be somebody, with or without a whistle, that doesn’t allow (the program to fall off).” — Calhoun on his future with the program

Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb (AP)

*March 14: “But I really feel in restrospect, looking back, especially when you’re out four weeks, looking back at your own team, that they put pressure on themselves that they never really had to. They really didn’t. I thought they didn’t find the joy they should in the game.” — Calhoun

*March 15: “More often than not, you end up sitting here talking about what you could have done and should have done.” — Napier