Category Archives: Omar Calhoun

UConn 61, South Florida 56: Wrapping Things Up At The Sun Dome

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Niels Giffey, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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TAMPA, Fla. – This UConn victory was one of those games that takes on a life of its own, or a definition of its own. Had the Huskies won easily, like they did two weeks ago against South Florida, we’d be saying, ‘oh, big deal, it’s South Florida.’

But to come from behind the way they did, it gave the game a lot more meaning, much more of an emotional lift going into the Cincinnati rematch. One of those intangibles.

Bottom line is, whatever UConn’s shortcomings, this is a mentally tough team with good leadership. Sometimes the other team is better, or shoots better, but “the size of the fight in the dog,” as the saying goes, is there. Here’s the game story for the Thursday Courant.

Kevin Ollie was fired up about this win, as emotional as he’s been all year. Here’s his complete take:

 

We found something inside ourselves. … We played together. We got a spark from everybody. We were down nine, we could have folded our tent. Then we went on an 18-0 Continue reading

Kevin Ollie: ‘I Expect A Whole Different [USF] Team’ … Notes And Quotes From Tampa

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Kevin Ollie, Omar Calhoun, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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TAMPA, Fla. – The Huskies arrived in Tampa about 6 and filed into the lobby of their hotel. A long day for them, early practice followed by a commercial flight from Bradley.

Had a chance to talk to Omar Calhoun – remember him? – about the difficult season he is having. He’s a stand-up kid, didn’t run and hide from it. He still believes in himself. “I have a lot of pride,” he said, “I’m still the player I’ve always been. There’s no adversity he can’t get through.”

Shabazz Napier said Calhoun looked like “the old Omar” in practice on Tuesday morning.

This is my top for the Wednesday Courant, BTW. Lots more on it coming on our main website.

Meantime, Kevin Ollie, Napier and the team expects USF to be much tougher on their home court than at XL two weeks ago. If they can lure UConn into a halfcourt game, with their big men, they can be.

Everybody appears healthy for the Huskies, everybody practiced, Ollie said. (“No issues.)

Here’s some more from Ollie:

 

“SMU is a great defensive team with percentages they hold teams to. You got to move the basketball against them, take ‘UConn shots’  and not your own shots. We did that sometimes, but not consistently enough to beat that defense.

I don’t imagine [the rematch with USF] is going to be 83-40. They’re better now, that was Continue reading

UConn 68, Temple 55: Wrapping Thing Up In Philadelphia

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, Kentan Facey, Kevin Ollie, Larry Brown, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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PHILADELPHIA – This was a tough one to digest. Those 9 p.m. starts are just bad for everybody …  Players, naturally, were hungry in the late afternoon and early evening and made some bad choices.

Shabazz Napier walked across the street from the team hotel and got chicken wings, Ryan Boatright got a cheese steak sandwich with peppers and the rich, spicy food didn’t sit well come game time.

“I was so stupid,” Napier said. “It was the worst decision I ever made in my life. My stomach and my chest were burning, and I was so winded. A lot of my shots were short shots and I knew that was the reason why.”

Just for reference, folks. Don’t take this too seriously. It’s part of Napier’s personality, kind of a running thing, he’s always kind of playfully complaining about an ache or pain as a lot of athletes do. It was just pretty funny, so we have a little fun with it.

As I pointed out in the main game story for the Friday Courant, conference wins on the road are supposed to be hard to come by, and they are in  the AAC. UConn really had to grind this one out against a team with a bad record, like the one at Rutgers and to a lesser degree the game at UCF. “We’ve got a veteran team with a lot of leaders on the floor that know how to grind out games like this,” Boatright said. “It was an ugly win.”

Here is Kevin Ollie’s take:

Good game by us. Offensively it wasn’t our best game, but defensively we locked down and that’s where we hang our hat. When we’re not having one of our  better offensive games we want to get stops. For long stretches we held them without scoring, and that’s what gave us the lead and we finally finished at the free throw line.

‘Bazz was great at getting to the free throw line. It wasn’t a particularly good shooting Continue reading

UConn 86, Memphis 81 (OT): Wrapping Things Up At XL …

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, AP Top 25, Kevin Ollie, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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HARTFORD – Great college basketball game. Really, the AAC can produce them.

The top five teams in the conference, all of which are ranked, are enough to make this first year of the new conference rather interesting. It will take time for rivalries to develop, and take time for some of the programs now at the bottom to build up.

And, let’s face it, UConn doesn’t really want to hang around long enough for that to happen. … But if you live in the moment, enjoy the moment, these two UConn-Memphis games have been pretty good. UConn-Cincinnati was ugly, but good. Cincy and SMU are still to come to Connecticut, so those should be good games, too. This was the first sellout at XL in two years, BTW.

For UConn, it was a great win. The Huskies will stay in the rankings now, should move up several spots and are now just about assured to be in the NCAA Tournament.  They’re clawing their way back up the league standings now, tying Memphis now. A second-place finish seems do-able now, and if Cincinnati fades, who knows?

All in all, a good day for UConn. Here’s some Kevin Ollie:

“The stat sheet is not pretty, but I’ll take a win any day. They stayed in the middle of the ring.  We didn’t knock Memphis out until the end of the game, but we kept throwing body blows, body blows, body blows.  Finally in overtime we got that lead and we didn’t relinquish it.”

They outrebounded us, they shot 55 percent., but we got to the free throw line, we kept putting pressure on them, defensively, and when we needed stops, we got ‘em. I just tip my hat off Ryan, to Shabazz and everybody. They kept grinding, it was a great game for those two and a great game collectively. What we did, we stayed in the game at the free throw line, and we stayed in the game with turnovers, we had six turnovers and they had 18. And that was the game.

It was a Connecticut win. It wasn’t the prettiest game on our end, but at the end of the day, we found a way. That’s why I love this team. They may be small, or whatever you want to write, but you can’t measure their heart. They got the greatest heart ever. I’m very proud of them.

The crowd was absolutely great. When we were down, they just willed us. That’s what we Continue reading

Tyler Olander Back, Omar Calhoun Probably Not; Notes, Quotes From UConn Practice

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, DeAndre Daniels, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – The Huskies will get Tyler Olander back for the Memphis game Saturday, but probably not Omar Calhoun.

“Omar’s [concussion] symptoms are improving,” Ollie said, “He came out today and did [a little shooting] and got on the bike. He’s day to day, it’s probably 60 percent he won’t play, but we’ll see in the morning.”

Calhoun, who sustained the concussion in the game at UCF, missed the South Florida game, as did Olander, who had flu symptoms. But Olander practiced on Friday and is good to go.

Here’s some of Ollie’s chat with reporters Friday after practice:

 

“[Memphis] is a great assist team. They get 18 assists a game. We’ve got to play good solid defense, on the first side, second side, third side. And we’ve got to get back in transition, 26 percent of their points come in transition, and 11 percent come on offensive Continue reading

UConn 83, South Florida 40: Wrapping Things Up From XL

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, Kentan Facey, Kevin Ollie, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
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HARTFORD – Okay, well there’s just not much to say about this game. UConn dominated it in every way, inside and out, start to finish.

It’s what UConn is supposed to do with opponents like South Florida, which was missing its best player, Anthony Collins, but, of course, it doesn’t always work that way. If any win is a good win, any blowout is certainly a good blowout – especially in February. This saved some wear and tear on Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.

So this one’s in the books. Memphis next.

Kevin Ollie’s take:

First, I want to give my condolences to the Hurley family. Doc Hurley was a great man. My wife [Stephanie, a nurse] was taking care of him over at St. Francis and he was supposed to come to the Memphis game [Saturday]. One of his requests was to get a new Husky sweatshirt with the new logo on it. I didn’t a chance to give him that.  “I’m going to miss him a lot, miss seeing him coming out of that tunnel and seeing him at all the games. He’s a great man and he will be missed.”

 

It was a great game. We came out and established ourselves early. Amida (Brimah) had two blocks and five points in the first two minutes and a couple of great passes. And we just kept it rolling. We packed the paint in. Everybody who stepped on the court got a basket. We had 24 assists on 28 made field goals. That’s amazing. And we out-rebounded them again.

I thought our defense has been great the last four games. I think we’ve been holding guys to a combined 33 percent. We’ve just got to keep this up….I want to keep this momentum going. I want to make sure we play defense. I just tell the guys to bring their locks. That’s kind of our motto right now. We want to be on lockdown defense. Hopefully guys are buying in. I’ve seen how it has transferred in practice over to the games. They’re following the game plan and details, and that’s what I love to see.

It’s a collective group effort. When we play defense we want 10 eyes on the ball handler, we wanted to load up, to pack the paint. And we wanted them to shoot threes. We didn’t want to give them layups. They just stayed to the game plan, and that’s what we try to do and I’m real proud of my guys.”

I enjoyed seeing Terrence [Samuel] out there running the show. Coach [Glen] Miller has been doing a great job with our big guys, getting them where they’re doing the same Continue reading

UConn vs. South Florida: Setting The Scene at XL …

by Categorized: Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah, NCAA, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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HARTFORD – We’re looking live at the XL Center, the UConn Pep Band is playing “Heartbreak Hotel,” and rocking it. The Huskies are just finishing up some shooting. Let’s set the scene about 30 minutes before game time …

First off – No Omar Calhoun, who is recovering from a concussion, tonight. That’s not a surprise, since he did not practice yesterday. He stayed back on campus, the thinking is the loud noise wouldn’t be good for him at this point. He’s still day to day.

Also, Joe D. says, Tyler Olander has the flu and is not likely to play. So the Huskies are pretty thin tonight against USF’s big front court. The Bulls won’t have their best guard, Anthony Collins, who has been out since mid-December.

Usual starting lineup for the Huskies – Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah, Amida Brimah.

The Huskies have a new walk-on: Nnamdi Amilo is taking Tor Watts’ spot. Tor hurt his ankle a couple of weeks ago. He is 6-4, from New Fairfield and wearing No. 23.

The officials tonight: Bryan Kersey, Bert Smith and

Continue reading

Omar Calhoun Sidelined; Ryan Boatright Struggling; On USF’s Big Men … Notes, Quotes From Practice

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, AP Top 25, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – A few notes, quotes, thoughts from UConn’s post-practice interviews on Tuesday …

Omar Calhoun did not practice. He has a concussion and it’s not likely he will play against South Florida on Wednesday night, though it hasn’t been ruled out

“He’s day to day,” Kevin Ollie said. “He got popped in the head pretty good. ,The symptoms were much better than they were yesterday. Hopefully he can keep getting better and we’ll get him back soon.”

As for Calhoun’s season-long woes, Ollie admonished him not to give up:

“I just want him to keep practicing hard,” Ollie said, “keep preparing for the moment that you’re going to get. Because if you don’t prepare for it, if you just give up now, you’re never going to be successful. I want him not to give in, to keep doing what Omar is capable of doing, keep coming out and controlling what he can control, which is his effort and his attitude.

The gap is effort. Just keep playing with effort. Hopefully the shots will fall, he’s working tirelessly to correct that, but he can’t give up. And he’s not going to do that; he’s been through a lot, it’s a minor set-back for a setup. Hopefully he understands that.”

 

Ryan Boatright is 21-for-62 from the floor the last six games, and his shoulder problems – he’s wearing a brace on the left side, could be a factor.

““[The shoulder] is pretty jacked up right now,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can about it until after Continue reading

UConn 75, UCF 55: Wrapping Things Up In Orlando …

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Amida Brimah, AP Top 25, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, Omar Calhoun, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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ORLANDO, Fla. – What a wonderful world it would be, in Connecticut, if it could be like this all the time … if the Huskies could rebound well all the time … if they could pass the ball and get a lot of assists all the time … if the big men could get the ball and score in the paint all the time … if there was less dribbling …

… If the Huskies played Central Florida all the time.

UConn did all the things it did not do against Cincinnati, or Louisville, or SMU in large part because they were not playing Cincinnati or Louisville on Sunday night. They were playing UCF, 9-12, 1-9-in-the league, eight-game-losing-streak UCF. So it was like a test-tube game, a chance to work on all the elements the Huskies need to be successful in a stress-reduced environment. It was good, a good, resounding 75-55 win, which was so badly needed after the game at Cincinnati.

Perhaps the Huskies can string a few of these together now – eight would be nice, with South Florida, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati and Rutgers all coming to Connecticut and the road games at Temple and Rutgers. Then the Huskies could go into the last regular season game at Louisville with confidence and a ton of momentum.

UCF provided nothing if not a chance to build confidence. For 10 minutes, the Huskies played almost perfect basketball and ran away with the game with a 24-6 spurt. The second  half … well, that was just crazy, with behemoth Justin McBride coming in and dominating for about seven minutes. Two steals by Shabazz Napier snatched the game back for UConn and then it was clear sailing. Here’s the main game story for the Monday Courant.

Here’s Kevin Ollie’s take:

“We started out in the first half playing UConn basketball. It was 18-17 and we went on a 24-6 run, and that’s what we’re capable of doing. In the second half we got a little sloppy, a little complacent. We turned the ball over.

[Isaiah] Sykes had a quick six points and then we started loading up, we got himin foul trouble. We had 10- eyes on him and made him pass it out.

… Rebounding. We rebounded and we went on the fast break. Lasan [Kromah] was terrific, getting to the rim – not only getting to the rim, he was all over the place, getting steals, making amazing layups

‘Bazz was making terrific passes, everyone was running, playing together, playing unselfish.

We started messing around with the game a little bit but we composed ourselves and got a 20-point win.

Passing a big factor, we had nine assists in the first half and ended with 11, which I’m not too happy about. But we were Sharing the basketball, getting the ball ahead, not settling. They took what we were trying to teach in practice and they brought it to the game But the key for us was rebounding.

We ran first play with [DeAndre], he got to the paint. Then they corralled him a little bit. All in all, he played a good game. He got seven rebounds, he was right around the basket, he got a lot of touches.

[McBride] is a load down there. We got to get in front of him. They were coming off the Continue reading

Cincinnati 63, UConn 58: Wrapping Things Up From Cincy …

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Andre Drummond, AP Top 25, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Lasan Kromah, Niels Giffey, Omar Calhoun, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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CINCINNATI – A few thoughts, notes, quotes from UConn’s 63-58 loss to the seventh-ranked Bearcats …

UConn probably left the arena saying, “man, we should’ve won.” And one imagines a lot of teams have left the arena after losing to Cincinnati this year saying that. The Bearcats know how to win close games. They’ve beaten excellent teams like Louisville and Memphis and Pitt in close game, and when they’ve struggled against lesser teams like South Florida, they found a way to win.

They did it again against UConn, which led by 10 points in the first half and was really looking good at that point. Cincy turned it around, got killer defensive stops, they forced UConn to take bad shots. Their top player showed up. Cincinnati just knows how to win. Experienced, tough kids – not unlike UConn, mind you. The Huskies have experienced, tough kids and have won close games against good teams, too. But the record just shows Cincy is a little better, and they were a little better Thursday night.

“All that matters is we find a way to win,” Mick Cronin said. “We can’t let statistics or individual plays affect us. Right now, we have tremendous focus. Everybody is worried about getting the win more than their own stats.”

When they come to Hartford to play on March 1, I would not be shocked if the game were much different. I didn’t come away feeling these teams were very far apart, or that UConn can’t match up with Cincinnati. But at 5-4, they’re not catching the Bearcats (11-0) in the American Athletic Conference regular season race; UConn is playing for second or third place and will have to make its move in Memphis. And the Huskies will probably drop out of the AP Top 25 come Monday, and take a hit in the RPI, even if they win at UCF.

“You learn from every loss. We usually play close games with Cincinnati. A lot of games come down to the last second when we play them.”

Here is the main game story for the Friday Courant.

******

Kevin Ollie was angry after this game. He did a lot of hollering and was hoarse when he talked to reporters for about 4 minutes after emerging from  the locker room. Here are those 4 minutes:

 

They just played hard. The second half, they came out and established themselves in the paint. Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson, they just took over the game. You know, Kilpatrick got 17 in the second half, 12 rebounds, six assists – just a hell of a performance by him. We couldn’t get him out of the game.

They just took it to us inside, 34 points in the paint and that’s the game. That’s the game. We rebounded with ‘em, but we can’t give up [52.2] percent shooting in the second half. And that’s what good teams do.

They ran, they did whatever they wanted to do.  Kilpatrick came out for the shot. They posted up. We didn’t get in front. They did whatever they wanted to do in the second half.

We stopped moving the basketball, plain and simple. We were scoring on every timeout. Continue reading