I’m off at another assignment today, but our intrepid Colin McDonough was out at the Travelers for the Pro-Am event Wednesday and picked up some UConn basketball notes and quotes for me.
Here’s some stuff to chew on:
UConn has a couple of more out-of-conference games to fill, and there has been some talk that Villanova will be one, perhaps at a neutral site. The Huskies have long expressed interest in renewing some of the old Big East rivalries. Warde Manuel said, “Hopefully [the schedule] it will be finalized this week and we’ll be able to make an announcement, but we’ll continue to work…we always have had conversations with other Big East schools about playing and will continue to have those conversations and see what we do.”
From Kevin Ollie:
“Duke [Dec. 18 at Izod Center] is going to be great, just like Florida, just like any other game. We love to play Duke, and get back into the New Jersey-New York area is always great. It’s going to be great to coach against Coach K, somebody I really respect.”
On recruiting: “We’re like a pretty girl walking down the street. It’s nice when players are attracted to our university. For us to get through what we went through 18 months ago, and to come out winning a national championship, I think a lot of recruits see that and focus not only on me, but our coaching staff and our players, how they stuck together and bleed blue. A lot of people want to be a part of that, and then they see our fan base, too. Also something that resonates.”
(Note: highly rated big man from Milwaukee, Diamond Stone, was on campus for an unofficial visit June 7-8.)
On the new facility: “I’m getting excited,” Ollie said. “We take tours all the time. It’s going to be a beautiful facility. Men’s side, women’s side, with all the trophies together.”
“… I’m not going to lace ‘em up [for Jim Calhoun’s all-star game Aug. 8]. I’m going to retire from that now and just enjoy the festivities.”
On The Draft:
“Shabazz [Napier] is doing a wonderful job. I think he is definitely going to go in the first round, and DeAndre [Daniels] is having some great workouts, talked to Toronto, Cleveland. It’s just a matter of one team liking you, thirty teams don’t have to like you. Hopefully we’ll have two more of our guys in the NBA – and our guys stay in the NBA, that’s the beautiful thing about UConn.”
Earlier in the day, before teeing off, Ollie told reporters that Daniel Hamilton had texted him a picture of his plane ticket to Connecticut, so he, as well as Rakim Lubin, are still expected to arrive for summer classes next week.
Jim Calhoun received a prestigious award from the American Cancer Society, one of the many causes for which he has helped raise millions of dollars. The St. George Award is given annually to a volunteer who has made a significant contribution over a long period of time.
Calhoun, who has beaten cancer three times, has been involved with the Society for more than three decades, serves the ACS as the honorary chair of the organization’s CEOS Against Cancer, New England chapter. He is a founding member of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative in New England, and has participated annually in the national Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Invitational, and has joined other coaches lobbying Congress on legislation that benefits cancer patients and their families.
“Coach Calhoun has been a great friend to the American Cancer Society, tackling his commitments to the organization with the same level of passion that made him one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history,” said Peg Camp, Executive Vice President and New England Division Operating Officer with ACS. “One of his greatest strengths is the power of his personality, and the enthusiasm he exudes has served to rally and unify in the fight against cancer individuals from a cross-section of life – from CEOs to fellow survivors to those in the athletic arena.”
Calhoun stopped to talk after his round on Wednesday. On his event Aug. 8:
“The [fans] reach out to me, to Kevin Ollie, Ray Allen, Cliff Robinson and UConn. It’s always a great day and it’s a celebration of UConn. Rudy [Gay], DeAndre, Kemba, Shabazz, Charlie V, we have about 14 commitments.”
Comparing the 2014 champs to 2011:
“The teams are different, circumstances much different, but winning is winning. Every season, good bad or indifferent, is a story. I remember sitting with Kevin back in early February, we were saying, ‘it’s not going the way we thought.’ Tough game against Temple. Real tough game with South Florida, we just weren’t playing great. Then we got by St. Joe’s, played pretty good against Villanova, then we just got better and better. Each team has a story; this was a very special story.”
On the Draft:
“I’ve talked to Shabazz twice, DeAndre has come by to see me. For teams at the 29-30 mark, I’ve talked to San Antonio – he’s an intriguing kid, a first-round talent, maybe not the maturity, physically really, of a first rounder yet. … Shabazz called me because he was going to Boston [this week] and we had to talk about Boston. When you watch the game, his savvy, basketball IQ, all those things, there’s no tangible measure, no matrix, on making big plays, on siezing the moment, which he has done a good job with. I don’t know if he’s undervalued, but I’d certainly like to have him on my team.”
On Ollie’s new contract:
“I never felt he was going any oplace, but he should look at things, it worked out well for everybody.”