NCAA Tournament - UConn vs. Miami: Best of Final Four Media Day
Players and coaches from Connecticut and Miami spoke with members of the media as they prepared for their matchup in the Final Four on Saturday.
BENSLEY JOSEPH: Just living this experience-- you know, it's a dream come true. A lot of people, you know, in the world dream about playing in the Final Four. And, you know, it's a blessing. You know, we put in a lot of hard work all season. And this is the time now, so we're here just to experience it.
JORDAN MILLER: I think, personally, we've had one of the hardest sides of the bracket. You know, I think we've played some really, really elite teams. I mean, everybody, I believe, had us losing to all of those teams. So, like, we're fine with being the underdogs. We've been all year. But, you know, it should be a good game. Like I always say, I think the team that comes out and plays the hardest and leaves it all on the floor will be victorious.
I feel like, you know, regardless of the outcome, we're winners. We made school history-- for the first time, Final Four. Obviously, you know, we still have goals we want to reach. But, you know, we're looking to just kind of set the foundation for Miami basketball, you know, and just be what, you know, teams look up to and try to reach.
NIJEL PACK: I actually got some advice from Kyle Guy, who went to my same high school as me-- who went to Virginia and won a national championship. I was talking to him a little bit. And he just told me to stay positive. I mean, you know, you've got to keep confidence in yourself. Great shooters can shoot anywhere is what he told me. And he told me to believe in myself and my team and if you believe in yourself and your team, that you guys will be able to win it all.
WOOGA POPLAR: Coach L learned all his dance moves from me from last year. I used to dance a lot. So I feel like he just learned all them from me.
NORCHAD OMIER: I watched videos from last year in the Elite Eight, Sweet 16-- Woog would be dancing. Bensley would be dancing. And I think coach L copied a lot of those moves from them.
NIJEL PACK: His dance moves-- they're all right. I'm hoping to see some more, though. I only seen once. So I need to see it again.
JIM LARRANAGA: This is a challenge to get to the Final Four. There are a lot of-- been a lot of great players, a lot of great teams that have never reached this point in their playing career or coaching career. So you've got to appreciate every opportunity you get. And we're just looking forward to playing Saturday night. I like talking to the media. I get a chance to tell some stories about the guys I love.
You know, these guys are so much fun to be around. Someone said to me, are you-- are you tired of this? I said, no, what could be better than having a conversation or meeting someone and telling them how much fun you have? And I hope you guys have fun covering us, you know? I want our players to enjoy this moment because you know what? It'll last a lifetime.
DONOVAN CLINGAN: In the beginning of the year, when we were on a 14-0, winning a lot of games, playing at our best, you know, I thought we had a chance to make a deep run. You know, we obviously went through a tough stretch. But I feel like that made us stronger and made us better.
ANDRE JACKSON JR: I always just thought about playing the game. So it wasn't so much about all the other stuff. But to be around all the different types of things that they do surrounding the Final Four is definitely something I never really imagined. So it's a great opportunity.
ADAMA SANOGO: Last game against Gonzaga, I was, like, a little bit tired because, like, you know, I was still sick, you know, like you said. But the good thing about a Saturday game is that the game is at 7:49. And I think I will be able to-- I will be able to eat at 7:40. So that's, like, eight minutes before the game. So I think I should be fine for the game, for sure.
- Adama, you said you-- you'll be able to eat eight minutes before the game on Saturday.
ADAMA SANOGO: Yeah.
- What-- what can you eat so close to playing?
ADAMA SANOGO: I just need my coconut water. If I have my coconut water and one orange juice, I think I'll be fine.
DAN HURLEY: We're able to play in a pretty relentless fashion defensively, on the backboard, and in attacking you offensively because we're able to keep people fresh. I think Adama Sanogo has, you know, been one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament in large part because we've been able to keep him fresh this year. Last year, at this time of year, he was-- he was playing 34, 35 minutes a game as a big guy. This year, Donovan Clingan-- being able to keep him fresh has been a big reason why he's been able to dominate and that we're still playing.
All of my great mentors tried to get me ready for this-- Coach Calhoun and Geno and Tom Izzo and, you know, Coach K and Jay Wright. Like, I was smart enough to try to get some great advice from people on what to expect. You don't expect a lot of the media demands and just the feeling of exhilaration and just how big this is. I think I've said to Kamani and Luke and Tom, like, hey, this is kind of a big deal, huh?