Category Archives: Rip Hamilton

UConn 60, Michigan State 54: Wrapping Things Up At The Garden

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Rip Hamilton, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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NEW YORK – What a day, what a weekend, what month.

What a ride.

I asked UConn fans via twitter if they would rather be in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Final Four. Most who answered didn’t get it, but a few did.

The point being, quite frankly, the UConn brand endures. Kevin Ollie has been promising that, and his promises have a way of being kept. The Huskies will raise a banner of some kind when they come back to Gampel, as he promised. They are back in the Final Four, waving their “Amercian” flag, as Ollie said.

Conference affiliation matters, it matters in recruiting, it matters in money. But getting t the Final Four and winning it is about who you are. The Huskies had what it took, even if the AAC didn’t impress the selection committee.

It was joyous, the nets coming down, the celebration on the floor. The crowd was phenomenal. Players were wearing bits of the nets they cut down tied to their hats as reporters entered the locker room. The former Huskies were sharing in it.

Unforgettable day.

Here’s some Kevin Ollie at the podium:

   “It was just a great game plan.  Our players, our student?athletes executed the game plan perfectly.  My coaching staff came up with a great design out there and the defense was amazing.  It was great to get off to a great start, and we wanted to fight.  We wanted to throw the first punch and I think we did that.  At the end of the first half we had a lull, and then in the second half we turned it on.

                “It started with ball pressure with Ryan Boatright picking up, then everybody denying Harris, because Harris got off on us the second half.  And we started having our attention there.  Shabazz did a great job, and then our bigs did an exceptional job.  Phil Nolan came in and give us huge minutes.  DeAndre was on the string and then didn’t let Dawson go off any.

                “It was just an amazing feeling to do it in Madison Square Garden, and for the NCAA not to be here for 50 years and then we come out and we win it, it just puts a great bow on this gift.  And we’re going to unwrap it again and we’re going down to Texas.

“We’re going to see where it takes us.  We play a great Florida team and we’re going to be well prepared, because I know about these guys’ heart, and that’s what got us through, it was a heart of a champion, heart of a lion and I love these guys.

“You can’t take it for granted.  I thank Coach [Jim Calhoun] for giving me this opportunity.  I knew what I had, though.  I had faith in my players, I had a great coaching staff, two of my coaches coached me and got head coach experience, and my belief in God.  I knew God was going to give me a way out of no way.  And I thank Him for this opportunity.  I thank Coach for always being there.  I thank my AD and my president, that gave me an opportunity and signed me for that one?year deal and then extended me during the season and their faith in me.

                “I just want to make these kids better people.  If we can do that and win a National Championship on the way, that’s good.

“We got a lot of great fans out there and we got a lot of great student?athletes that came through UConn.  You can see everybody come back Andre Drummond, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Richard Hamilton, even players that you don’t even know in the NBA.  It’s a big family.  And that’s what Coach created and I’m glad he passed me the baton, and I’m just trying to run on it and try to still create that environment, because it’s all about family with UConn.

“[The Huskies] did a wonderful job.  Yes, Big?10 is known for that, but American Conference is known for it, too.  And we got our American flag waving out our window going down to Texas.  And we’re going to keep it up high, and we’re going to keep playing the right basketball.

                “We’re physical, too.  Don’t get it mixed up.  We are predators out there.  And we’re going to go in and we’re going to do a great job.  We’re going to not only use our physicality with our muscle, we’re going to use our physicality with our mind.  I think that’s what we did tonight.  When they were physical, we played the right type of game.  We made hard cuts, we were going downhill, we shared the basketball.  And then when we get up to the free?throw line, that’s our toughness.

                “It doesn’t have to be a wrestling match.  We use our toughness mentally.  I think we put on the board ‘concentration and mental toughness’, and that’s what we had today.  Because concentration, if you go 18?for?18 in the second half, you got to be mentally tough.  And that’s what we have been doing if you’ve been watching us.  And we get up to that free?throw line, we knock them down.

 

“Madison Square Garden is a great place.  I don’t care if you ?? now from here whenever I walked in here in the NBA.

 “It’s always in the back of your mind and thinking about certain things, is this the right job?  Should I stay in the NBA?  You have those thoughts going on in your mind.  But at the end of the day I wanted to be close to my family and I wanted to come back to my second family, which is my UConn family.  And just to be around Coach all the time and him believing in me, even before this coaching thing, even as a 17 year old and believing in me that I could be a point guard.  And passing up on a lot of guards to have me come way from Los Angeles to Connecticut is like unbelievable.  And he always believed in me from day one.  And I thank him to death for it.  And that’s what I told him in his ear.  ‘Thank you for believing in me.’

                “And you know what, I can do this job, but I need a lot of help.  It’s not just a one?man show.  That’s why I got a great coaching staff, that’s why I got great players, and that’s why I want to just keep forging on and keep building.  Don’t lay on your success.  Keep building on your success.  I think we’re doing that and we are going to enjoy a trip to Texas again.

“That was just a great experience.  It’s a great time when you can get on that ladder, but I was really taking my time.  One step at a time.  And that’s what you got to do to get up top of the ladder.  You can’t skip no steps.  And the last two years we didn’t skip no steps.  We took one step at a time.  I he keep telling you that and that’s what it’s all about.

                “Guys believe.  They didn’t get out of their roles and they believe in each other, and we call it something called Level Five and that’s a championship mentality, and if we can have Level Five all the time, and not only on the basketball court, in the classroom, too, we’re going to be fine.

                That’s what we try to strive for each and every day to have that Level Five and play for one another and play this game the right way.  The right way is believing in what’s on your chest, on your chest and not what’s on your back.  We don’t play for what’s on the back of our jersey, we play for what’s on the front.  And it’s a great, great school that’s on the front.”

 

*****

Shabazz Napier was the Most Outstanding Player of the Regional. He averaged 23.3 points per game in Buffalo and Manhattan. DeAndre Daniels was also on the all-Regional team, along with Adeian Payne, Gary Harris and Duston Hogue.

Napier has now played in 141 games, a UConn record. He scored 1,925 to pass Ray Allen on UConn’s scoring list.

****

I messed up on Twitter. I thought Tom Izzo said he called timeout to give UConn fans a chance to enjoy the moment. He said he DIDN’T call timeout for that reason, but to convey something to his younger players. Want to set that straight. Here is his quote.

 “ Sometimes you got to pay the price of the process and sometimes ?? the reason I called timeout with six seconds left, it wasn’t so that the UCONN fans could really enjoy it a little longer.  I just told our underclassmen and that, that I didn’t think ?? we had a couple stretches where we didn’t bring it, but we did and I don’t want to ?? don’t trademark the line, but out?of?body experiences, a couple times I came out of the huddle and I was shaking my head, like I haven’t seen this before. Sometimes that happens with pressure.  Sometimes it happens with fatigue, and I just wanted our team to capture the moment and learn from it, so next year we can be better at what we do.”

 

****

All kinds of stuff from Paul Doyle, Jeff Jacobs, Rich Messina, Brad Horrigan and myself going up on our site throughout the night. Rich Coppola will have lots on FoxCT tonight, do check all that out.

… Well, I’ve done eight Super Bowls and 10 World Series for The Courant, never a Final Four. Glad to be adding that to my career. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some travel arrangements to make!

On Righting The Wrongs of 2012; Notes, Quotes From Practice In Buffalo

by Categorized: Alex Oriakhi, American Athletic Conference, Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, NCAA, Niels Giffey, Rip Hamilton, Roscoe Smith, RPI, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Syracuse basketball, UConn men's basketball
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BUFFALO,  N.Y. – Wrapping up a long day at the arena with some notes, quotes and thoughts.

A recurring theme in the UConn locker room – and in any sport one does get a much better feel for a team by working the locker room – was the opportunity lost two years ago against Iowa State. That’s very much on players’ minds.

“We were talented,” Ryan Boatright said, “probably the most talented team in the country. But the chemistry wasn’t right. We weren’t together as a whole.”

That team had two lottery picks, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, and two other standout big men in Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith. But the pieces just didn’t fit together.

“I wasn’t the leader my sophomore year that I should have been,” said Shabazz Napier, who was in his first season as the starting point guard.”

Boatright was in and out due to the NCAA reviews, and Jim Calhoun was in and out due to the suspension and the illness. The team faded in February and was blown out by Royce White and Iowa State in the tournament. “You lose in the first round,” Boatright said, “and then we couldn’t play last year, it sticks with you.”

That, more than the perceived slight of the No. 7 seed, will be UConn’s motivation against St. Joe’s Thursday night. Here is our main advance for the Courant.

*********

Here are some excerpts from UConn at the podium:

Kevin Ollie

It’s just a great opportunity for us.  People see obstacles that we went through, I see opportunities.  We did a great job.  My guys stayed loyal.  We thought we’d be an NCAA Tournament team last year, and now we just took over that same mindset on into this year.
It’s always a players’ game.  They kept this university afloat when everybody else was Continue reading

SMU 64, UConn 55: Wrapping Things Up From Gampel

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, AP Top 25, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Larry Brown, Niels Giffey, Rip Hamilton, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
Date:

STORRS – This was a clunker, and it hurt UConn.

The sound of basketballs hitting iron was prevalent at Gampel on Sunday. The Huskies shot 29 percent, their lowest of the season, worse even than the Stanford game (31.7). They didn’t score the first 6:14 and it went downhill from there.

And it hurts in several ways. UConn, ranked 21st, probably will fall out of the rankings again on Monday. They were in real good shape in RPI at 25th, but losing at home will probably drop them some. And it now seems certain they will not finish in the top three in the AAC and have to start the league tournament with the  4-5 game against the host, Memphis.

Then there is the sting of losing on the day the 1999 champs were honored. Just a bad, bad day.

“It’s a setback because we lost,” Ryan Boatright said. “I don’t think we played a bad game as far as things we really need to work on. I think we did everything well. We just didn’t make shots. We even executed our plays. We just missed the shot at the end. . We were off as a team. We were missing shots but even after all of that we were only down two points at halftime. We can’t make other excuses. We just have to make shots.”

The Huskies were 16 for 54, and didn’t get many open shots. They missed too many of the ones they did get. They outrebounded SMU, though that seemed impossible from watching the game, and played pretty good defense, especially in the first half.

 But SMU used the key to success against UConn, forcing the Huskies to play in the half court game and the Huskies could not execute, did not move the ball side to side – first side, second side, back to third side, back again to fourth side, as Kevin Ollie describes it.

“We should have cut better to give ‘Bazz and ‘Boat more options,” Niels Giffey said. “… Our offense was stationary at times.”

This is where UConn needs to get better, or more consistent, and do it against the better teams. The Huskies are 7-1 against the AAC’s bottom half, but 2-4 against the top half. Next up, at South Florida on Wednesday.

Here is the main game story for the Monday Courant.

*******

Some of Kevin Ollie’s take

“Tough game [for] us. Coach Brown had those guys ready to play. They loaded up the first and second side. I told the guys the whole time we were preparing “we’ve got to get to the third and fourth side.” We just didn’t have enough discipline to do that and we didn’t stay solid enough to do it.

We out rebounded them, but you can’t shoot 29 percent. I’m looking at our starters, Continue reading

UConn vs. SMU: Setting Things up at Gampel

by Categorized: Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Lasan Kromah, Rip Hamilton, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. … Let’s set the scene at Gampel, with the start of UConn vs. SMU just a few minutes away.

Same lineup for the Huskies: DeAndre Daniels, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Lasan Kromah, Amida Brimah.  … Seems like everybody’s healthy and available.

Refs for today: James Luckie, Michael Stephens, Tim Nestor.

Looks like a near sell-out crowd, but not quite.

Was up in the lobby talking to some of the members of the 1998-99 championship team, which is being honored at halftime. Rip Hamilton is back at Gampel for a game for the first time since ’99.

“I’ve been in Hartford for games,” he said “but Gampel is special.”

Hamilton has been out of the league this season, but has been talking to teams about returning for the playoff push. “I could’ve made a decision before the season,” he said, “but want to see how the Continue reading

UConn 65, Florida 64: Wrapping Things Up From Gampel …

by Categorized: DeAndre Daniels, Kentan Facey, Kevin Ollie, Niels Giffey, Omar Calhoun, Phil Nolan, Rip Hamilton, Shabazz Napier, Terrence Samuel, Tyler Olander, UConn men's basketball
Date:

STORRS – Okay, wow, what a game. … It’s late and there’s a ton to talk about, but let’s start here:

There’s such a thing as “knowing how to win,” though some hate intangibles. … And there is no substitute for it. UConn’s experience in games like this means they stay calm at the end, and calm  – as in Shabazz Napier with a second to go – is what often makes the difference.

Here’s the game story for the Tuesday Courant.

Now, Kevin Ollie’s take:

“I’m happy, but I’m a little exhausted.  Another one-point game but, once again, we showed our resolve. We didn’t do a lot of things but, at the end of the day, we got a win, because it’s about our heart.  We’re not the biggest team in America but, man, I wouldn’t trade our heart for anybody.”

“It’s heart that’s going to get you through.  Sometimes you can’t go over the top of it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go right through it. That’s what this team is doing. 

“I don’t know how we do it. You look on this stat sheet.  I don’t know how we do it…They shoot 49 percent and out-rebound us but, at the end of the day, we get it done.  It’s a magical team.  They’ve been through a lot.

“The three-point line really helped us….That allowed us to stay in the game. 

“[Florida] is going to be real good.  That’s money in the bank right there. They’ve got a couple of people hurt right now, but in March, they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with.  [Their big men] have muscles on top of muscles.”

“People who h ave been around here a while know what we do. We outlast our opponents. We did that one more time tonight, we outlasted them.”

 

“Shabazz was phenomenal.  Whenever we need a big shot, he makes that.  Whenever we Continue reading

Facts and Figures: How Much Former Huskies Are Earning In The NBA [collegespun.com]

by Categorized: Caron Butler, Jeremy Lamb, Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Rudy Gay, UConn men's basketball
Date:

Last weekend, the website Collegespun.com posted some interesting research about various major college basketball programs and the money their players have gone on to earn in the NBA. UConn, which currently has 13 players who earned more than $76 million this past season, ranks second on the list. Duke’s players earned $77.2 million, but there are five more, 18 of them.

Rudy Gay ($16.4 million) and Emeka Okafor ($13.5) led Huskies in the salary column.

Anyway, here is a link to collegespun’s piece.

This is a list of UConn players in the NBA and their current salaries. Imagine this might spur some Continue reading

For DeAndre Daniels, It’s About Maturity, Confidence …

by Categorized: Big East, DeAndre Daniels, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Rip Hamilton, UConn men's basketball
Date:

 

STORRS – Had the chance to sit down and do some interviews at Gampel on Monday and I’ll be offering parts of them through the week here …

DeAndre Daniels’ first year at UConn was a struggle. He appeared in 31 games and started many, but didn’t play starter minutes. He averaged just three points, 2.1 rebounds and frequently drew the ire of coach Jim Calhoun. Before his sophomore season, when asked about the new coach, Kevin Ollie, Daniels often said he “wasn’t as mean.”

Daniels had a break-through during this past season, and it was a break-through in many ways. For instance, he now understands what Calhoun was trying to do and their relationship has become a solid one.

“I talk to coach [Calhoun] every day,” Daniels said, “every time he comes in we have a conversation about life and basketball. He’s had confidence in me since day one. He tries to instill it in me. My freshman year, when I didn’t have confidence in myself, he was just trying to make me tougher, trying to tell me what to do, how to carry myself.

“It’s tough love. But everything he does, he means it with love. He really cares about all the guys on the team.”

Calhoun, at the State Capitol last week, was raving about the change in Daniels, how he no longer “slumps his Continue reading

Season Complete: A Look At UConn Huskies In The NBA

by Categorized: Andre Drummond, Caron Butler, Jeremy Lamb, Kemba Walker, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Rudy Gay, UConn men's basketball
Date:

The NBA regular season ended on April 17. Here is a look at how UConn players fared this year:

Ray Allen – Heat

79 games off the bench for defending champs, averaged 10.9 points in 25.8 minutes, Shot 44.9 percent from three-point range. Scored 63 in four games vs. Celtics.

Caron Butler – Clippers

Started 78 games for Division champs. Averaged 10.4 points, 24 minutes. Scored 33 vs. New Orleans on Nov. 26. Steal on a “fake high five” duped Jonas Valanciunas in Feb. a YouTube moment.

Andre Drummond – Pistons

60 games, 10 starts, 7.9 points, 7.6 assists in 20.7 minutes. Missed 22 games with knee injury, but had a Continue reading

Pregame at the Garden: Countdown to UConn-West Virginia

by Categorized: Jeremy Lamb, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, UConn men's basketball
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NEW YORK – Arrived and set up at Madison Square Garden for another day of Big East Tournament action.

After a night of diligent research, UConn’s sports communications staff determined that Jeremy Lamb is the sixth sophomore to reach 1,000 points for the Huskies. The others were Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen, Ben Gordon Continue reading

UConn 81, DePaul 67: Wrapping Things Up at The Garden [Updated, 6:45 p.m.]

by Categorized: Alex Oriakhi, Andre Drummond, Big East, Jeremy Lamb, Jim Calhoun, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Roscoe Smith, Ryan Boatright, UConn men's basketball
Date:

Some notes, quotes and thoughts from UConn’s win over DePaul.

I asked Jeremy Lamb if he was somehow more comfortable shooting at Madison Square Garden. He said he didn’t know about any of that, “but I do like this gym.”

To some it’s The World’s Most Famous Arena, to Lamb it’s “this gym.” The low-key, even keel approach can be an asset this time of year. Lamb doesn’t get fazed. Here’s my Lamb-centric game story for the Wednesday Courant.

“I’m not trying to be Kemba,” he said. “But everybody would like to lead their team to a championship.”

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It really is so much better to cover a game when you can work the locker room, like we can at the Big East Tournament. Just putting that out there. … I asked Roscoe Smith about the way he’s putting up jumpers with Continue reading