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March 7, 2009

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes


Connecticut at Pitt, March 7, 2009, Petersen Events Center


Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon


Opening Statement:


“Senior day is always special, and it certainly ended up the right was for us today.  I was very pleased with this game and I thought it was very indicative of each of these player’s careers.  Sam Young, Tyrell Biggs, and Levance Fields all handled their careers with dignity and class, and just got better and better as players and as people.  We beat a very good team today.  UConn is an excellent, talented team and we were able to come out on top playing the kind of basketball you’d expect from Pitt.”


On Levance Fields:


“I didn’t know he was going to go until about an hour before game time.  I came into the locker room and he had his shoes on, so I gathered he was ready to go.  He hadn’t practiced or ever shot around in the last two days, but it there’s anyone tough enough to play hurt, it’s him.  It was his decision, because my players know how far they can push themselves better than anyone.”


On the play of Sam Young:


“It’s amazing to me that Sam sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.  He was the leading scorer last time against UConn and it was almost a side story.  I thought he brought a lot of grit and toughness to the game today, rebounding well, along with making shots.  We thought Sam had some good matchups offensively today, and as a great player, he was able to take advantage.”


On the play of Brad Wannamaker:


“Brad was absolutely terrific today.  We had some guys in foul trouble and he really stepped up when we needed him.  It’s been great watching him develop as a player.  This year his improved shooting has really opened up so many things for us, and that’s great for a team and coach to watch.  He’s a proven winner who carried his high school team, and he’s going to do special things for Pitt.”


On playing in the Big East Tournament:


“We want to use it to get better. That’s what we’re always trying to do.  We have some practice time between now and our next game, and we want to be a better team then than we are today.  That’s always our goal.”


Quoting Pitt’s DeJuan Blair


On winning on senior day:


“I’m so happy for my seniors. I did what I had to do to get them not only a win, but also an undefeated season at home. Beating the number one team in the country is a great way to send these guys out. The only way I’ll be happier is if West Virginia beats Louisville, but even if that doesn’t work out , we’re still in a good position.”


On the difference in playing Hasheem Thabeet today:


“The difference was fouls. This game was called a lot tighter than the last time, and I kind of had to watch myself a little more closely. Thankfully I was still able to do what I had to do to get us a win.”


On playing UConn again:


“That’s in the future and we can’t worry about that right now. We just have to keep playing our hardest and we’ll see UConn when we see them.”


Quoting Pitt’s Sam Young


On his play:


“Recently it seems that when I see a UConn jersey, my eyes start to light up. I was very focused on this game. I got some good rest last night after getting a few shots up, and just came ready to play today.”


On what he thought when DeJuan Blair sat with two fouls:


“At that point I just wanted to stay aggressive and precise. I thought my shot selection was pretty good for most of the day, and I just got into a zone where I was able to score. It’s something that I pride myself on, because I think that all great players should be able to score like that when they find a rhythm.”


Quoting Pitt’s Tyrell Biggs


On going undefeated at home:


“This is a great accomplishment to go undefeated at home. I found out it’s only happened four times in the program’s history, and that the last team to do it was Brandin Knight’s senior year. To be able to share this with that team is really special.”


Quoting Pitt’s Levance Fields


On playing hurt:


“It’s the groin more that’s bothering me more than the tailbone. I was sore, but as soon as I saw the crowd coming in, my leg magically started to loosen up. It was my last home game here and there was no way I was going to miss it.”


On how Pitt responded to UConn’s second half run:


“They’re a good team and we knew they were going to make a run at some point. We knew then that we needed to capitalize on our chances offensively and try to put the game away. We were lucky enough to get out in transition a couple times, and in those instances, Sam Young really made some great plays.”


On his pass to Sam Young:


“I looked back when I got the ball and saw Sam sprinting behind me. I know in those situations, he always goes as hard as he can towards the basket. The defender cleared out to guard another player, and I was able to get the pass off to Sam, who made a great play to finish.”


Quoting Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun


Opening Statement:


“I have to congratulate Pitt. I thought they played a terrific game.  We played them better today than we did in Hartford. Sam Young was brilliant. He really is something special. I thought he controlled the game. Levance Fields ran the show, on both teams.  We planned for him to play. He played a great game for a player in his condition, he’s tough. Their bench wore us down.  Brad Wannamaker came off the bench and gave Pitt 13 points.  We needed someone like that.  There was a point in the game where we were down 12 and we cut it to two and we just couldn’t get it. We looked tired.  We had a lot of bounces that didn’t go our way and they let to Pitt making pass breaks.  That’s how they pulled away.  This is our first road loss of the season, but I’m proud of what we did this season, bottom line.  The regular season is over and we’re looking forward to the post season.  I have tremendous respect for Jamie Dixon and his players, they fought hard.  I thought today we didn’t get the ball to Hasheem Thabeet enough, but that’s credit to Pitt’s defense.”


On the game:


“I’ve never been to a game that we’ve lost the ball as much as we did today.  The ball seemed to slip out of our hands a lot. They’d get the ball out of our hands, legally. We fought an uphill battle being on the road against a team that matches our caliber and it was Pitt’s senior day.  We know that we can beat them, although I don’t have any evidence of it considering that we’re zero-and-two against them.”


On the foul calling:


“Pitt dug and scratched at us all day.  You’re going to have games where crazy fouls happen.  That was a foul on Hasheem Thabeet, I thought DeJuan Blair had a better position.  But, I thought we got tired in the end.  Pitt beat us fair and square.  They’re going to be a tough tournament team.  Pitt has all the components of a National Championship caliber team.  I think Jamie Dixon has developed Pitt into one of the best offensive teams.  They’re more fun to watch.  After today’s loss, I wasn’t going to blast my team. It would be foolish to do that because there is a good possibility that we may see them again.”


On Hasheem Thabeet and DeJuan Blair:


“Hasheem Thabeet didn’t play very much when we played in Hartford. He got into foul trouble and DeJuan Blair has a tremendous game.  Today, we wanted Hasheem Thabeet to come out an establish himself. He did a good job of that, but we didn’t get the ball to him enough.”


On Sam Young:


“They are deeply talented and Sam Young is something special. We’ve seen him twice, and there hasn’t ever been a player that gives us as many problems as he does. He’s quick, he fakes and he has a great feel for the game.”


On both Pitt and UConn:


“Both teams are physical.  They battle on the backboards and they both play good defense.  Pitt has players that can make plays and that look to bench players to step up. Pitt can make points off the bench.  We were looking for that. Both teams have a proven metal, being 15 and three in the conference.  Pitt has something, but so do we.  We were down 12 and cut it to two. That says something about our guys.  They fought.  I think with a little bit of hard work, we can get there.  We’re still adjusting to Jerome Dyson, but its part of the sport.”

Post-Game Quotesheet

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