What Connecticut is saying

Here’s what UK’s opponent in the Final Four is saying heading into the game:

1. Fatigue is a non-issue.

Connecticut played five games in five days during the Big East Tournament (and won all five). Many people have said it would tire them out come NCAA Tournament time, but the Huskies continued to roll.

“A lot of people go overboard about the five games in five days, and wondering if we were going to be tired,” said Connecticut freshman Roscoe Smith. “We just needed to get back on the court after that. Most of the guys were still staying in the gym late.”

2. The Final Four is a big deal for them.

The week before the game, head coach Jim Calhoun said he was telling his players to enjoy the experience and soak it all in. The players sound like they listened.

“I always watched this and dreamed of being here. When you get here, you never know what to expect. Really this is a dream come true.”

The same was said by Charles Okwandu, a senior on the team.

“This is my last time to be here and it is fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to go to the Final Four? That is every college basketball player’s dream.”

3. Connecticut is undefeated in tournament-style play, having captured the Maui Invitational and the Big East Tournament.

“I really don’t know what it is,” said Alex Oriakhi. “From Maui to the Big East to the NCAA Tournament, I think we just understand that it’s one-game elimination. If we lose, we go home.”

Added Walker, the biggest factor in Connecticut’s ability to continue winning: “We don’t want our season to end short. We want to finish it off the right way.”

4. All the teams have a hectic schedule leading up to the actual game.

In a talk with former Ohio State player Mark Titus, he said one of the most under-recognized aspects of the Tournament is the ability to stay focused through all the off-court activities. Not that they are necessarily distractions, just that it can be a drain on players trying to gear up for the biggest games of their lives.

Kemba Walker, who has been through a Final Four two years ago, noticed that happening.

“We do a lot of things. We took pictures yesterday. We did a lot of media and practiced. We already had our own practice. Now we got to do an open practice. It’s just a lot going on before the same game.”

Roscoe Smith said the additional media attention wouldn’t affect his game since they “aren’t out on the court.”

5. Jim Calhoun could join four other men with three or more national championships.

“As a basketball junkie, I clearly would be awed by being in that kind of company,” Calhoun said. “I would treasure it as much as any other single human being, only because my dad told me, ‘You’re known by the company you keep.’