O'Brien speaks on Patriots, Super Bowl loss

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O'Brien speaks on Patriots, Super Bowl loss

Remember the backlash that came when it was announced the Bill O'Brien would become the next head coach of Penn State? At the time, there was this false glimmer of hope that Joe Paterno might return -- or maybe that it was all just a bad dream. It Wasn't. O'Brien was hired.

But before he could do a whole lot with the Nittany Lions, O'Brien had to finish his duties as offensive coordinator with the Patriots. Since the official introduction as head coach, it seems like the perception of O'Brien has lightened a bit. He certainly noticed it while at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

"I'll tell you, it's been great. I can tell you at the Super Bowl it was excellent," O'Brien said to Penn State Sports. "When you walked out on the field for warmups at the Super Bowl there were a lot of people there that either went to Penn State or had Penn State connections and wished myself and our staff the very best."

The same goes for letterman of the school, "upwards of fifty" that O'Brien has talked to.

But while the warm fuzzy feeling of being welcomed to the Penn State family was nice, the sting of losing Super Bowl XLVI probably hurt O'Brien just as much. Still, he recognizes how special the team was that he was a part of, and talks about the experience.

"It's my second Super Bowl, so anytime you have a chance to go to the Super Bowl it's a very special team, it's a very special experience," O'Brien said. "The Giants made a few more plays than we did on that night. I guess there's a lot of decisions or plays that we would all like back -- coaches and players -- but we can't get them back. But we had a very special season, it was a team that I was very proud to be associated with, and hopefully I keep in touch with those guys for the rest of lives."

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”