LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --They were tired after their late-night dramatics in Saturday's Final Four victories, but Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie and his player and Kentucky's John Calipari with his guys were back in front of the media Sunday afternoon to answer questions in advance of their Monday night meeting in the NCAA championship game.
Ollie's Connecticut team lost to Louisville by 33 in its regular-season finale and by 10 to the Cardinals in the American Athletic Conference tournament, but he said those losses played a role in his team's Cinderella run.
Q. After that 33‑point loss in the regular season finale, you said something, and I'm paraphrasing a little bit, but these guys maybe we can play two more games and go on spring break or something. How quickly did you know that that wouldn't be the case, that they wanted to fight? Was it on the bus ride home, the next practice?
OLLIE: No, I knew we were going to fight. I'm going to just tell you what I said. I said if we play like that and we're going to go home and we're going to enjoy spring break.
But I know we are fighters. When we got back in on that bus and we got back to practice, I can see the look in their eyes, and dark times is what promotes you. I'm glad that happened. I'm glad that happened, because we went back and I had to evaluate myself as a coach and I hope every player went to their dorms and looked themselves in the mirror and had to evaluate their effort. Down times like that just promote you.
So I'm glad it happened, because we all got together, we knew what we had to do, the challenge that was in front of us and we were going to face it. We got better from that.
Louisville beat us again in the tournament, but that's all right. We got better from it. That's what we want to keep doing. Every challenge, get better from it. Don't get down on each other. Stay together. I think that even brought us together. So I'm glad Pitino did that to us.
Calipari and his five UK starters spent nearly 30 minutes on the podium and didn't field a single question about Connecticut's basketball team. They were asked about just about everything else. In this exchange, Calipari was asked about leading a No. 8 seed to the title game.
Q: We have got an eight seed and a seven seed, should we be surprised by that in the state of the college game right now and how do you still feel about the term 'Cinderella'?
CALIPARI: Well, I don't think we were an eight seed and I don't think Connecticut was a seven seed, and I don't think Pitt was a nine seed and I don't think Louisville was a four seed. But that's where they seeded us. Now, the problem with that is the other teams in those pockets get hurt.
So we're just playing basketball. I told them the one thing about this tournament, after your first game, even if you're highly seeded, every other game's hard. So I said, we're going to have one extra hard game. I lied a little bit to them. I didn't tell them it was going to be Wichita, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin, but we had Kansas State, terrific basketball team. So we had one more than some of those other teams had.