Author Archives: Dom Amore

Daniel Hamilton: ‘Coach Ollie’s An Inspiration’ … Notes, Quotes From Jordan Brand Games in Brooklyn

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NEW YORK – Got the chance to watch Daniel Hamilton play, though the conditions weren’t conducive to drawing conclusions at the Jordan Brand national game.

“Defense was out the window,” said Mike Bethea, who coached the West.

Hamilton scored 10 points in 11 minutes, and got two rebounds, as his West squad lost to the East, 158-147. The score tells you all you need to know – not much defense, as Bethea says. Hamilton was 4-for-6 from the floor, and hit a couple of threes, so we can say that for a kid his size, 6-foot-7, he’s quick and versatile, a player right up Kevin Ollie’s alley.

Hamilton and Ollie spoke again before the game, the topic, as one would expect, about when he might sign a National Letter of Intent. He has not yet pulled the trigger on that.

Some of this territory was covered when we spoke on Wednesday in Manhattan, but here are highlights of Hamilton’s interview Friday night, postgame at Barclays Center.

On the game:

“… I think I did pretty good in the minutes I got, 10 points in 11 minutes. I think I could have contributed a little more, a couple of easy layups I missed that I could have made.”

Winning a state title at John Bosco High:

“… Going home, there’s bragging rights. It’s something to talk about at the family table. It’s a blessing. We had to persevere and get through adversity.”

On DeAndre Daniels

“… I’ll just let him decide. Let him do his own thing. We’ll be able to have another chance for a run if he comes back. We’ll be able to be that much better because he’s a force playing that power forward position, a lot of power forwards can’t guard him because he can put it on the floor and he can shoot, so it’s hard to guard him. … I always played up, because of my brothers I had to play up. Even when I was in sixth and seventh grade, I was playing with DeAndre.” Continue reading

After Breakfast In Bristol, Napier, Dolson No Longer ‘Hungry Huskies’

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Shabazz Napier and Stefanie Dolson spent an interesting day at ESPN. Among other things, they were “fed” by, or we should say, with permission from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Emmert, of course, was among the dignitaries on the court when Napier proclaimed “This is what happens when you ban us … meet the Hungry Huskies” after the UConn men won the title on April 7. Earlier in the tournament, he made waves when he said there were times he “went to bed starving” because of the NCAA’s rules governing food for athletes.

(BTW, this is an issue Napier had raised a few times before, though no one was paying attention.)

Emmert was on the ESPN campus in Bristol for interviews, and crossed paths with Napier and Dolson. Trey Wingo served them breakfast during the show “Numbers Never Lie.”

 

(Updated 7:35 p.m., we’re deleting a quote that was here originally because there was confusion as to who said it.)

A proposal to eliminate all restrictions on feeding athletes was passed by the NCAA’s legislative council this week. It had been in the works for months, but timing is everything – Shabazz Napier will always be connected with this positive change.

Here is what Emmert told ESPN’s Mike and Mike about it.

 

 

A Happy Homecoming For Ryan Boatright

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Ryan Boatright has always been very proud of his hometown, and has always taken the opportunity to be a role model for young people in East Aurora, Ill., very seriously.

He has never had a better opportunity than he does now to bring a positive message back home, and he will be honored at a program Saturday at the Paramount Theater.

The Aurora Beacon-News reports on it here.

Boatright told his  hometown paper:

“It means the world to me to be coming home to Aurora as a national champion. This can encourage a lot of kids to pursue their own dreams.”

Boatright, like DeAndre Daniels, is weighing his options regarding the NBA Draft. One imagines he will be discussing things with his family this weekend.

NBA? Kevin Ollie Tells Gayle King, ‘Not Now … But Never Say Never’

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Kevin Ollie was interviewed on CBS This Morning Wednesday by Gayle King. He covered a lot of territory he has already covered recently, but he did address the prospects of coaching in the NBA, appearing to close the door on it now, but not in the future. (Talks for a new deal with UConn are just beginning, or about to begin.)

Here is the transcript of Ollie’s interview, as provided by CBS News. … The video clip will be available here after the show airs.

GAYLE KING: Well, LeBron James said this about you, that Kevin Ollie has the coaching gene.  Kevin Durant said, “He taught us a mindset and professional.  And all of us wanted to be like him.

KEVIN OLLIE: Wow.  That’s– that’s pretty awesome.

KING: What’s the Kevin Ollie formula for success?

OLLIE: Oh, man, it’s just a lot of hard work.  It’s believing in yourself. It’s a pride that I gotta get better at something every time I wake up.

KING: Okay, so we’ve been on YouTube.  We’ve seen that “‘Cause I’m happy.” You even had a thing where you did a Jay-Z brush your shoulders off, too, Kevin.

OLLIE: Yeah, we have to brush the doubters off.  We always gotta brush the doubters off.

KING: Let’s talk about the doubters for a minute. ‘Cause you inherited a team that was on academic probation.  It wasn’t these particular players. But because of that, U-Conn wasn’t allowed to play last year.  What do you do to motivate that group of– that group of players? Because everybody says, “We’re going to win.”  Everybody says that.

OLLIE:  Yeah, I mean, you’re exactly right.  Everybody brings it in before the season, say, “One, two, three, championship.” I’m not chasing championships. Championships are chasing us.  I’m not doing that.  I want my players to be better people, once they leave campus. Because this is a life lesson.  This is more than basketball.  This is life lessons that we’re trying to teach.

KING:  Let’s talk about unionization.  A lot of college campuses are talking about it for athletes.  Where do you stand on that?

OLLIE: I just think they need a voice.  Whatever that voice is.  Somebody needs to be talking on their behalf. You know, NCAA can use your likeness for a lifetime.  We have to do something for our student athletes.  We have to change.

KING: Did you ever have any trepidation about stepping into the shoes of Coach Jim Calhoun?  I remember Jim Calhoun.

OLLIE: I cannot step in his shoes. Only thing I’m glad that he passed me the baton.  And I’m trying to run as fast as I can with it.  And, you know, he’s a great man. He’s a father figure to me.  But I gotta be Kevin Ollie.  He seen something inside of me before I seen it.

KING: Before you saw it in yourself?

OLLIE: Oh yeah, even when I was a 17 year old coming from Los Angeles to Connecticut.

KING: What did he see?

OLLIE: Oh, he’s seen a fighter.  You know?  He’s seen somebody that– you know, like, when I first got to campus, I’m a freshman.  I’m playing against all these great players.  And I’m like (MAKES NOISE).  And I’m– I went to the dorm after our first practice, I called my mother, said, “Mom, I’m coming home.”  I was crying.  Last thing I heard was a click.  (LAUGH) That’s all–

KING: She hung up?

OLLIE: She hung up.  And then– I was like, “All right, I gotta go back, ’cause I can’t go back home. So I just had to stick it out.  And he just always told me, “Be the hardest worker.  No matter what, just be the hardest worker.”

KING: Mom did a favor hanging up on you.

OLLIE: She did a big time favor.  She was like, “I sent you there for a reason, to get your degree and play basketball.”

KING: You played 11 different teams in 13 seasons You’ve been to a lot of different teams.

OLLIE: A lot of different teams.  And I wasn’t the most talented guy.  So I had to watch tape.  I had to– I was playing, like, ten minutes.  So I had to– I had to make sure I knew every play, not only on my team, but the opposing team.  So I had to do my homework.  And when you put the work in, great things happen.

KING: Do you think that that– what you learned as a player made you a better coach?

OLLIE: I’m so glad, when you look back at it, that I went and I was able to be around so many different players and so many coaches.  Of course, when I was in the NBA, I wanted to stay in one city and have a 20-year contract and all that.  But, It’s good to come in the locker room.  And you say, ” Ollie’s on one of those jerseys.”  So I don’t care if I’m on a ten-day contract.  I was on a make-good contract.  Make-good contracts is– every day, they can cut you. So I’ve been on all those. But that’s what made me.  And I’m so glad God took me on that journey.

KING: This was in the USA Today right before the tournament.  Did you see this?

OLLIE:  No, I didn’t.

KING: Okay, this– I thought this was really great.  “Coach’s pay, Kevin Ollie, $1.25.  Billy Donovan, $3.9.  John Calipari, $5.5.  Bo Ryan, $2.2.”  There’s a rumor that they’re gonna renegotiate your contract.  Should they just back up the truck? BEEP BEEP BEEP. What does Kevin Ollie want?

OLLIE: I just want the right conditions around my players.  I want the right condition around them.

KING: I knew you wouldn’t tell me the salary.  But you are thinking, “I could probably get a little bit more than $1.25.”

OLLIE: I mean, I imagine, because of a national championship, yeah.  I mean, just like– just rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  When your stock is up, yeah, I mean, it’s more.  But money don’t move me.  I played in the NBA.  That don’t make a man. We’re gonna sit down and negotiate.  But I want the best for U-Conn.

KING: So even coming in here today, somebody sees you, somebody on the street, and says, “Hey, Kevin Ollie, you going to the NBA.”  Has the NBA called?

OLLIE: No, NBA hasn’t called.  No.

KING: If the NBA called, would you answer?

OLLIE: No, not now in my life.  Like I say, I can’t never –say no–

KING: Don’t let me pick up the paper next week Kevin and it says, “Guess what? (LAUGH) So and so has called and Kevin has accepted the call.”  There’s no secret meetings?

OLLIE: No. I’m just worried– worried about my kids here at the University of Connecticut. And I got three guys– four guys is gonna graduate on time.  And I want to be there for the graduation.  That’s actually, that’s gonna be even better than the national championship. I’m never gonna say never, but I’m having so much fun.  It’s my dream job.

President On The Line For Ollie, Auriemma …

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President Barack Obama called Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma to congratulate them on UConn’s dual championships and invite them to the White House. Here is the official White House release of the info, dated April 15:

Today, the President called University of Connecticut Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kevin Ollie and University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Head Coach Geno Auriemma to congratulate both teams on their respective National Championship wins in the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments.  The President commended Coach Ollie and his team on their decisive championship victory and noted that he enjoyed watching the team throughout their tournament run.  On the call with Coach Auriemma, the President expressed how impressive it’s been to see the team continue to dominate the field of Women’s NCAA Basketball and commended Coach Auriemma on yet another championship win.  The President told both Coaches that he looks forward to congratulating their teams at the White House in the coming months.

 

UConn Men, Women To Be Honored At Fenway Park April 22

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UConn’s two national championship basketball teams will be honored in a ceremony next Tuesday at Fenway Park, before the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Details aren’t set yet,  the Red Sox say first ball honors have not been determoned, but one imagines Shabazz Napier, as a Bostonian, will get the honor of throwing out a first pitch, as Jim Calhoun did after previous championships.

We’ll provide more details as we get them. Both the Yankees and Mets would also like to have the UConn teams come to be honored in New York the near future, but dates and details are still to be worked out. Kemba Walker, joined by teammates, threw out a first pitch at Yankee Stadium in 2011.

Obviously, the schedule is filling up and final exams are approaching.

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As expected, the American Athletic Conference announced an agreement to play its men’s basketball tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., in 2016 and 2017, so the XL-Hartford deal will only be for 2015. The league will announce Thursday that the women’s tournament is returning to Mohegan Sun next year.

 

Ray Allen’s Camp Coming To East Granby in August

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Got word today of Ray Allen’s 2014 summer basketball camp, and wanted to pass it along. … This year, the Citi Ray Allen Basketball ProCamp, presented by Sunny D., is set for Aug. 2 and 3 at East Granby High.

Allen, finishing up another season with  the Miami Heat and heading for the playoffs, will be on site, helping teach fundamental basketball skills. The camp is open to boys and girls grades 1- through 12.

You can get more information here.

Hartford IS ‘Capital of American’ … Notes, Quotes, Thoughts

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During his remarks on the Capitol steps Sunday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy referred to “the basketball capital of America – Hartford, Conn.” It sounded a little odd, normally it would be “capital of the world” and possibly placing that distinction on Storrs.

Did the Gov know something? That Hartford would, next year, would be men’s basketball capital of the Amercian? The American Athletic Conference is passing up its option to play its men’s tournament in Memphis again, and is coming to the XL Center next March. Exciting news.

And though commissioner Mike Aresco has said he did not favor playing both in the same market, it appears he has had a change of heart on that. The women’s tournament is expected to stay put at Mohegan Sun, an announcement to come soon.

The official announcement of the men’s tournament relocation will be at 1:30 p.m. Monday. We will bring you the quote and details as they come.

Meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the commentary for the UConn parade Sunday on FoxCT, thanks to a couple of great pros, Audrey Kuchen and Eric Clemens, who guided the rookie through two-plus hours on live TV. While I was in the studio, our intrepid Nick Greene and Matt and Colin McDonough were chasing down fans, coaches and players for interviews. Here are some of the quotes:

Shabazz Napier on SI cover:

“That’s so surreal. My stepfather had bought a couple magazines, and seeing it first glance, that’s so surreal. I can’t believe that.”

 

Ryan Boatright on the NBA: 

 

“I’m just taking it all in right now, I’ll just enjoy the moment. I’ll probably start talking about my future tomorrow (Monday).”

 

On parade: “It was great, I’m glad I got a chance to be a part of that. It was just a wonderful experience. It really shows how much support and how much love they got for us.”

 

Kevin Ollie 

 

On DeAndre and Boat making decisions: “When they come to my office I’m going to be all ears, Continue reading

Incoming Husky Sam Cassell Jr. a JUCO All-American

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There will be big shoes to fill in the UConn backcourt next season, with Shabazz Napier leaving and, Ryan Boatright, too, if he chooses to test the NBA Draft waters.

But the Huskies have some solid guards coming in to join sophomore Terrence Samuel, who began to come into his own late in the season. You know about Rodney Purvis, who transferred from NC State and had to sit out. “He’s like a Ferrari in  the garage I can’t use,” Kevin Ollie said late in the season.

Well, now the ignition can be turned, Purvis is recovering from shoulder surgery, but should be ready to go when practices start.

Sam Cassell Jr., who comes in next year, added to his list of credentials. He was named a First Team All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association. Cassell, son of the long-time NBA point guard and coach, averaged 18.7 points per game for Chipola College in Florida this past season, leading his team to a 26-6 record before they lost in the national quarterfinals.He also averaged 3.7 assists, and shot 43.3 percent from the floor across 30 games.,

What makes this a positive for UConn: Neither Cassell nor Purvis are freshmen. Purvis, with a year of big time college ball behind him, and Cassell, who spent twp years in JUCO, are essentially juniors. With their experience, they should be able to step in and perform at a high level.

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… Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma rang the closing bell on Wall Street on Thursday – unfortunately it ended a bad day on the markets, but perhaps the coaches were able to give the downcast investors a pep talk.

… I’ve heard from both the Yankees and Red Sox that plans are in the works to honor the UConn championship teams soon, but no dates have been nailed down as yet.

… I will be joining the FoxCT team covering the parade in Hartford on Sunday, so do tune in. Will give you more details as I get them. Also, I joined Scott Gray on the Stan Simpson Show coming up this weekend.

… We’re putting out a special, commemorative section on UConn’s dual champions, which will be in  the Sunday Courant. Be on the lookout for that.

… We continue to have tecnhical issues with the blog, so check our main website, as well as he blog, for UConn content.

 

 

 

 

Terrence Samuel: ‘I See Us Getting Back Here’ … More Notes, Quotes and Thoughts From AT&T Stadium

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ARLINGTON, Texas – A few notes, quotes and stuff from the delirious UConn locker room, and  AT&T as we wrap up this unforgettable night …

Warde Manuel, as he said last week, plans to sit down with Kevin Ollie as soon as possible to discuss a new contract. “Right now, I’m going to a game tomorrow night in Nashville. I’m going to enjoy this. I have a love for this university. Kevin knows how I feel about him, and I know he has a love for this university. When we sit down, I think it’s going to be a great conversation.”

DeAndre Daniels was clutching the trophy. “I’m going to eat with it, sleep with it,” he said.

Asked about his future plans. “I’m not worrying about that right now. I’m just going to enjoy the moment.”

Ryan Boatright said the same thing, BTW: “I’m not worrying about my future. I’m  just going to celebrate with my teammates.”

Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton were in the locker room for a good long time.

Was that level six? “Definitely,” Ryan Boatright said.

Niels Giffey, who hit a couple of big threes down the stretch:

“I knew coming into these games that we might not get scoring from other guys. I had to get myself comfortable, realizing that this is my team. I’m a captain of this team and I had to step up.

On the advantage of veteran leadership: “I hope one of the things that our story, the story we wrote, really tells that people can see and learn a lesson from that. It can really work out if you stay with a program four years, and you stay with a core group of people and you really get to know each other on and off the court so well. You just create bonds that you will never forget and you will always have.”

 

Terrence Samuel: “I see us getting back here. That’s definitely my goal and I’m going to work hard this summer. I am going to start the next couple of days. I’m just trying to get better and now I know what it takes to get here. There is pressure because you have big shoes to fill, but I have to accept the challenge.”

Samuel made some important free throws down the stretch – just as Shabazz Napier did as a freshman.

Tyler Olander: “Coach Ollie is going to keep UConn up in the elite status of basketball. We just have extreme belief in each other, we have belief in a system. It doesn’t matter who is on the court.”

Phil Nolan: “It’s crazy and one of the best moments of my life.”

Kevin Ollie’s mother was in there for a while, and his family. And Jim Calhoun.

John Calipari was pretty gracious. “Kevin Ollie is one of the great guys of all time. I hate to lose, but I’m glad he won.”

The All-Final Four Team: Julius Randle and James Young of Kentucky, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels and, as Most Outstanding Player, Shabazz Napier.

There were 79,238 in the building for this game, 3,800 more than at Houston in 2011.

UConn is 4-0 in championship games, three playing in Texas – - here, Houston and San Antonio.

UConn is the first team to win a national championship without winning its conference regular season or tournament title since Arizona in 1997. The Huskies are the first team to win a title without playing in the NCAA or NIT the previous year since NC State in 1974, but, of course, UConn would  have played in the tournament last year if eligible.

Steve Fischer, who won a national title as Michigan’s interim coach in 1989, was the last to win a title within his first two seasons as a head coach.

UConn is the first team to win a title after going to overtime in its first NCAA Tournament game since NC State in 1983.

Shabazz Napier joins Kemba Walker, Derek Rose and Larry Bird as the only players to score at least 125 points, get at least 25 rebounds and at least 25 assists in a single NCAA Tournament.

Ray Allen was in the locker room after the game with fellow former Huskies Richard Hamilton and Boo Willingham. Khalid El-Amin was also lingering after the game.

“It shows great determination and resiliency of this team,” Allen said. “We had a great regular season. I’ve seen a lot of these kids coming into this program as freshmen. I’ve known Kevin [Ollie] for 20 years. We played in Seattle together. It’s been a great ride and I am so proud of them.

“Nothing surprised me about [Ollie]. You know his spirit. You know his personality. You know what he is capable of doing and what he has in him. He is a person who will never give up on you or anyone else.”

Jim Calhoun: “I am so proud of our university, every one of those guys out there and the seniors. They have stuck with the program all the way through.”

And Calhoun has this to say about Napier: “He is a great player. I think that when Chris Smith came here, the only thing we had was an NIT championship and Shabazz is like him when he take it to another level, when the team needs him to. That are great, great players. When you talk about Ray [Allen], when you talk about Emeka [Okafor], Kemba [Walker], and now Shabazz, you talk about greatness.”

Kevin Ollie as he walked down the Hall: “Can’t wait for the women to win the NC tomorrow night. It’ll be deju vu all over again.”

Once again, tons of content is on our main website, get to it here.