STORRS – The Huskies practiced long and hard on Monday afternoon, and Kevin Ollie was in a good mood when it was done.
“I love this postseason,” he said, “I love this team. I love the way they bounced back today. We went a little longer and they responded. I was proud of them today.”
The Huskies were trying to work off the lingering “bad taste” of the 33-point loss at Louisville on Saturday. They’re heading to Memphis for the first American Athletic Conference Tournament, and start off as the No. 4 seed, playing the host school on Thursday night.
“It’s a new day,” Ollie said. “It’s our fourth season. We had preseason, out-of-conference and conference. Now this is our fourth season, everybody is zero-and-zero. We had a great season, 24 wins, seven losses is a great accomplishment and a testament to how hard they played.”
UConn has beaten Memphis twice this season, by 10 points at Memphis’ Fed Ex Forum, where the Tigers have since won nine in a row, and at the XL Center in a grueling OT game on Feb. 15. “Those were two totally different games,” said Ollie.
The Fourth Season, unlike the first three, leaves no room for bouncing back. One loss in Memphis, and the Huskies come home. One loss in the NCAA Tournament which lies beyond and they come for good.
“The way I explained it to [the younger players],” Shabazz Napier said, “when you’re growing up and you’re on the playground – five on five, there are about 20 people waiting. If you lose that game, you’re not getting back on the court. Think about that, you want to stay on the court as long as possible. If you lose that game, you get to stay home and watch on TV and nobody wants that feeling.”
Ollie: “There is no reason not to believe. These guys got the mindset they can get it done. I know these guys are hungry for that. They thought they should be a postseason team last year, they couldn’t go, this is a new year.”
Jim Calhoun, who made the trip to Louisville and say behind the UConn bench, offered some advice to his successor. “If you coach long enough you’re going to go through a game like that,” Ollie said, “that’s what The Big Kahuna told me today.”
Calhoun will be sharing his thoughts on local TV on Tuesday. He will be the guest co-host on Continue reading