STORRS – Notes, quotes, thoughts as UConn wrapped up preparation for the game at Rutgers. … The Huskies got Ryan Boatright back on campus Wednesday, back to practice on Thursday. He’s good to go.
“It’s great to have Ryan back,” Kevin Ollie said. “I know he’s still got a heavy heart but he gives us another dynamic, he’s so quick with his scoring ability, he’s somebody else they have to scout. Hopefully, we see his speed and see him take over a game like we know he’s capable of doing.”
Boatright has been dealing with death of his cousin, Arin Williams, a shooting victim in Aurora, Ill. As Ollie pointed out last week, athletes, in similar situations, sometimes find solace in their work, find the games a “sanctuary” to get some relief from their grief for a while. Hopefully, Boatright can be one of those.
DeAndre Daniels noted after his career game against Temple that with Boatright out, he stepped up and he compared it to the big games he had late last season when Shabazz Napier was hurt.
Maybe there is something there, and Daniels can find the formula to play a big role when everybody is on the court.
“Now, we have Ryan back,” Daniels said, “and I feel like, if we can keep doing what we did last game, keep moving the ball, we can be even better.”
The RAC will be sold out for this game, 8,000, and the team is asking fans to wear black. One imagines Rutgers will produce this same electricity for the brand-name Big Ten teams that come in there in the future, but it will be hard to top the home-court buzz the Knights have generated against nearby Big East schools.
Eddie Jordan, Rutgers coach, told reporters in Jersey this week that, when he got the coaching job with the Wizards in 2003, he was told there was money under the cap to spend. He recommended to GM Wes Unseld that they split the money up and get a couple of players, including Kevin Ollie, a point guard who would have been less expensive. “But Gilbert Arenas popped up and we gave all the money to him,” Jordan said.
Jordan likes to use “back-door cuts” ala Ivy League teams. UConn handled that fairly well in beating Harvard. They’ll have to do it again.
Napier, who made the final 25 for the Wooden Award, has also made the mid-season cut for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, a national player of the year award presented in April. Napier is one of 23.
Here is the list: Keith Appling, Michigan State; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Cleanthony Early, Wichita State; Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State; Joel Embiid, Kansas; Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; Tyler Ennis, Syracuse; C.J. Fair, Syracuse; Aaron Gordon, Arizona; Nick Johnson, Arizona; Rodney Hood, Duke; Jabari Parker, Duke; Cameron Bairstow; New Mexico; DeAndre Kane, Iowa State; Doug McDermott, Creighton; Shabazz Napier, UConn; Lamar Patterson; Pittsburgh; Casey Prather, Florida; Julius Randle, Kentucky; Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State; Russ Smith, Louisville; Xavier Thames, San Diego State; Chaz Williams, UMass.