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Kevin Ollie: ‘Our Principles Are Not Going To Change’

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GLASTONBURY – Had the chance to speak to Kevin Ollie before he hit the links for his annual golf classic. Here are highlights of his 13-minute conversation with reporters:


New year, new team:


“It’s always a change. It was a change my first two years. Last year’s team was different from the team before. But it’s always a difference in make-up, how the guys are going to react to o ne another. But one thing, our our principles are not going to change. That’s not going to change, you’re either going to buy in, or you’re going to find yourself somewhere that you don’t really like. We’re going to buy in, but we’re going to adjust, it’s not just something that’s in a box and you’re going to take it out every year, it’s something that’s able to adjust and I’m able to do that.

But our principles are not going to change. We’re going to work hard, we’re going to share the basketball, we’re going to play fast. Hopefully we can do some things we didn’t do [well] last year a little bit better, and continue to do some of the things we did well – free throw shooting, low turnovers. Continue to have those small things we did, hold onto dearly.”

On preparation:

“… It’s going to be tough. I don’t run an easy practice and these guys have to be ready mentally and physically to endure it. That was one of our big hallmarks last year. We weren’t the strongest team, we weren’t the fastest team but we were a team that could endure the most, and was able to bounce back. The disadvantages, losing by 33 at the end of the season, getting down in different games, we always had a comeback in us. And I think that happened because we worked so hard in the offseason. That’s our motto here, ‘out-will, out-match all our opponents.’ That comes with just working in the summer time, and the effort. When you feel like giving up, it’s no, you’ve got to keep going. That’s what resonated with our team last year and we’re going to keep that same motto.” Continue reading

Looking At UConn’s Non-Conference Schedule

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It’s wall-to-wall football today, with the AAC Media Day underway, so it will be a little while yet before league basketball schedules come out. But UConn has posted some information for season-ticket holders, and games are appearing on opponents’ schedules, so let’s piece together the defending champs’ non-league schedule for 2014-15, keeping in mind there might not yet be signed contracts for all of these games and dates:


Nov. 14 – Bryant

Nov. 20, 21, 23 – Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Boston College, Dayton, George Mason, New Mexico, Texas A&M, West Virginia, College of Charleston)

Nov. 30 – Texas

Dec. 5 – Yale

Dec. 14 – Coppin State

Dec. 18 – Duke (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Dec. 22 – Columbia

Dec. 28 – CCSU

Jan. 2 – at Florida

Jan. 17 – at Stanford


First thing one would notice, with Coppin State and Columbia completing the slate, is that the home portion of the non-conference schedule is less than awe-inspiring, with Texas, a Sunday noon game just after Thanksgiving, the highlight. The Duke game, a great get for UConn, is a neutral-site game at Izod Center, a reasonable drive from Connecticut. With Stanford and Florida having come to Connecticut last season, the Huskies must now go on the road – and this is the tough part of scheduling high majors; it means playing home and away.

UConn has been discussing games with former Big East rivals, like Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, et al, but none of that worked out for this season. … Down the road.

UConn would like to extend its series with Florida.

Hartford wanted to play UConn, but things didn’t match up on UConn’s end.

The game at Stanford proved to be the trickiest part of the schedule. It was originally to be before Christmas, but when the opportunity to play Duke came up, UConn asked to postpone its trip to Palo Alto for a year. Stanford was willing – until UConn won the national title. A home game against the defending champs was too good to let pass, so Stanford wanted to keep the game in 2014-15. The AAC was amenable to giving UConn time to play the game during the midst of conference play in mid-January, Stanford and the Pac 12 agreed, and so the Huskies were able to fit both Duke and Stanford in, along with Texas, Florida and the potentially strong opponents in Puerto Rico. It makes for a good out-of-conference schedule overall, with comfortable spacing between games. … But it did not help the home slate.

Happy Campers Will Get Their Chance to ‘Ask Shabazz’

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SOUTH WINDSOR – Caught up with Shabazz Napier at his camp, which is running all week at Nomad’s Adventure Quest. I’ve watched him before, running drills for young kids, such as during the trip to Germany and it’s obvious that it’s something ‘Bazz enjoys.

He is very comfortable around kids, and they are with him. Napier did a clinic in Glastonbury on Sunday and will do another at RHAM this week. (Info is here.)


Here are some highlights of our conversation, with much more to come on our website and in the Tuesday Courant:

“It is something [I enjoy doing], for the kids. It’s quite funny to me. The roles are reversed. I was one of those kids growing up, inspired by Antoine Walker at his camp and a lot of other camps I went to, so for me to be in the position now – it’s something that I’m grateful for. I appreciate it those kids that inspire me because I inspire them. That’s just something beautiful to know.

… At this stage right now, I’m just trying to figure it out. This is something new to me, me hosting a camp and all that. I want to be as hand’s-on as I can, because that’s how I realized how much fun camps are. When I was younger and when guys were hand’s on, that’s when a camp was super-enjoyable. So that’s what I want to do. Those guys, I want to open up the floor for these kids to ask me questions, to ask me as much as they can.

When you go to the camp, the best thing you get out of it is when the guy is hand’s-on. You don’t want the guy to be sitting back, and it just seems like it’s not his camp. They came to see me, they want to interact, so that’s what I want to do.

I want to make it a great one. If I’m a part of something, I got to give it everything I have. That’s how I am. They’re giving me a chance to be a something special.

You always remember the first one. I was seven or eight. I started playing basketball when I was 5½. At that age, I didn’t know better. Some of these kids don’t understand a lot yet, so you don’t want to give them too much. You just try to give them the basics and just let them enjoy the basketball, because at this stage the sport is supposed to be enjoyed. When you get older, you realize that it’s more business. You just try enjoy as much basketball as you can at this age My experience, I want to kind of learn on my own. I’m trying to put my own spin on it and do the best I can.”

[The summer league experience]: “It was great. I learned a lot. Of course, I didn’t play up to the way I wanted to play. But my body was just done. I put a lot of workouts, on and off, going from place to the next. I didn’t have enough time to recover.

It’s something you got to understand, you may not be playing up to par but you learned something,.

I’m just trying to adjust as quickly as I can. I’m just trying to give myself some time off. Getting ready to go after it in camp.

[What to work on]: “I work on everything. You know how I am. I don’t pick on one thing. Everything, my decision making, my shot selection, everything about it. Going into a new offense, a new organization, there are new schemes you’ve got to learn. Some of the schemes we did at UConn, they’re not teaching in Miami. So I’m trying to understand and adjust to the way that organization their rules and their schemes. It’s something you’ve got to learn and it’s not going to come quuicjly’. It’s going to come in time

[On LeBron]: “That’s something I’m not worried about at all. Not at all. It’s [business], that’s why I’m not worried about it.”

[Rest of the summer]: “I’ll be getting ready. Getting ready to do what I can to provide the best ‘Shabazz basketball’ for the season.”

P,S. – Shabazz said he is not sure if he will play in the Calhoun All-Star Game on Aug. 8.



An Impressive List Of Former Huskies Will Be On The Court Aug. 8

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Jim Calhoun’s charity All-Star Game, featuring distinguished former Huskies, is only two weeks away. We have an informal list of players expected to attend:

Jeff Adrien, Ray Allen, Taliek Brown, Scott Burrell, Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon, DeAndre Daniels, Rip Hamilton, Jeremy Lamb, Donny Marshall, Donyell Marshall, Shabazz Napier, A.J. Price, Charlie Villanueva, Kemba Walker.

This is a partial, unofficial list. Between now and Aug. 8, there figures to be more. The game will be at Mohegan Sun at 7:30 p.m.; ticket info is here.

Napier Returning To Connecticut for Camp in South Windsor

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Shabazz Napier is returning to Connecticut the week after next. Following in the footsteps of many other former Huskies, he will be running a camp in South Windsor July 28 to Aug. 1.

Napier will be on site, two hours each day. The camp, for boys and girls age 8 to 16, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Nomad’s Adventure Quest on Bidwell Road. You can get more info here, or by calling 860-292-6311.

Napier has been playing for the Heat in the NBA Summer League, playing in both Orlando and Las Vegas. He was 32-for-107 from the floor, 11-for-48 on three-point shots. He had 43 turnovers in 10 games, averaging 9.8 points, 3.9 assists per game.

Rodney Purvis: ‘I’m Super-Ready’ … UConn Notes, Quotes From The Pro-Am

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WATERBURY – Spent Saturday at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am, which started up last week and runs until mid-August at Crosby High.

Rodney Purvis, who will finally be able to show his talents for UConn fans next season after sitting out, dropped by to play for Eblens in the late game and scored 26 points, showing some of the slick moves in traffic that made him an elite recruit. Purvis, who transferred from NC State in April 2013, had to sit out a year, and he had shoulder surgery last winter. He played a  few games in a pro-am league back home in North Carolina earlier this summer.

We’ll have a full story in the Courant this week. Here are some of Purvis’ thoughts:

On his recovery from shoulder surgery:

“It’s 100 percent now.”

On helping Amida Brimah recover from his similar surgery:

“Any questions he has, I help him get through whatever he needs to. The day of his surgery I went to go see him to make sure he was in great spirits because it is a long process, a six month recovery. That’s my brother so I had no choice but to be there for him.”

On getting ready for the season.

“I really appreciate all the love and the support from the fans. I’m just preparing myself every day to be ready for that moment. It’s right around the corner. I’m preparing for that first game, and I’m just ready. I’m super-ready.”

How difficult was it to sit out a year?

“I heard from different guys that it was rough on them, and of course, it’s rough having to sit out,. But I couldn’t have played anyway because of my shoulder. I was around a great group of guys, they always made me feel like I was in the loop, never made me feel like I was outside. The only thing I didn’t do was play in the games, everything else, I did. So I felt a part of the team.

Sitting out of basketball for a very long time is rough, but I’ve tried to make it worth it

I took advantage of everything, going up against guys like Shabazz [Napier] and Boatright every day in practice, I was in Shabazz’s ear all the time, in the room watching film with him, asking questions, and he gave me a lot of great feedback before he left.”

What did he learn from UConn’s championship run?

“We stayed together. That’s the most important thing. We stayed together no matter what. Anytime you saw one of us, there was always five or six of us. I don’t think people understand how being close off the court carries on to the court. We’re really brothers. We don’t put on a front for Twitter or the media, we take our relationships seriously amongst each other.

We’re always there for each other and it carried on to the court. That’ show we did it, we stayed together.”

How to recapture that feeling?

“I’m in the guys’ ear every day in the locker room, ‘let’s stay together, let’s do things together.’

Me and Sam [Cassell Jr.], we’re roommates, we go everywhere together, do things together. Same with [Daniel Hamilton and Rakim Lubin] – I don’t want them to feel like outsiders because they’re new guys. I’m real strong on brotherhood, that’s how I was raised and I saw what brotherhood can do last season and we want that same thing this season.”


On playing with Ryan Boatright:

“I honestly feel like, with us having relationship we have off the court, that’s going to carry on to the court. He was my roommate last year, he took me under his wing. Help me learn.

… Not many people know this. But the whole, entire year [until the surgery] me and Boatright were in the gym every single night, basically beating each other up, some days going back to the room not speaking to each other because one of us got the better of the other that one day. … I just appreciate Boatright. He’s a great guy and I can’t wait to play alongside him. Continue reading

Napier, Heat Wrap Things Up In Orlando

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Now we know Shabazz Napier won’t be playing with LeBron James after all. In fact, the Miami Heat will likely be a shell of what they were when next season begins. The summer league, which concluded Friday, was the first step in preparing Napier for what could be a larger role as a rookie.

In the Heat’s fifth and final game, Napier played 28 ½ minutes, going 1-for-4 from the floor, 0-for-2 on three-pointers, with two rebounds, seven assists, three steals and five turnovers. Miami (1-4) lost to Oklahoma City 103-98. Jeremy Lamb, who had averaged 17.3 points per game, did not play for the Thunder on Friday.

Napier’s final stats in Orlando: 27.5 miniutes, 10.8 points, 14-for-51 from the floor, four assists per game.

Neither Niels Giffey (Grizzlies) nor Lasan Kromah (Nets) got into a game in Orlando.

The Las Vegas summer league starts up Friday night. DeAndre Daniels, with Toronto, playing the Lakers at 6 p.m.

Talks Hoops with Jim Calhoun or Geno Auriemma? The Bidding Is On

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With the ESPYs coming up, and UConn up for several awards, the Huskies basketball programs and ESPN are teaming up for auctions to raise money for the V Foundation.

How does this grab you? One UConn experience is a chance to sit and talk basketball with Jim Calhoun courtside at UConn game, and take in the game, and other activities, with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg. The bidding on Ebay is here.

Or, you can go to a UConn women’s game. This package includes meeting Geno Auriemma and partaking in the pregame meal. You can bid here.

For all the ESPYs action items, click here. Be sure to read the entire description and get all the details before you bid. The ESPYs will be on July 16, the day bidding ends.

UConn News and Notes: Scholarhip For Lenehan, A Talk with ‘Sticks,’ Etc.

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Hope everybody enjoyed their 4th of July. Just catching up on a few things …

UConn rewarded Pat Lenehan’s diligent work in the classroom, and dogged work in practice. They’ve put him on scholarship for his senior year coming up. Lenehan, from Cheshire and Xavier-Middletown, was a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship, which goes to outstanding students in the fields of science, math and engineering. Lenehan, who has had a 4.0 GPA, is a molecular cell biology major and plans to earn an MD/PhD and become a research oncologist.

He has been a walk-on the last two seasons, and works hard to push his teammates in practice.


As you know, Will “Turtle” Jackson de-committed from UConn and committed to Georgia earlier this week. These things happen when kids commit early, as both Jackson and Prince Ali did from the Class of 2015. UConn kept recruiting, and when they landed Jalen Adams last week, Jackson saw that playing time might be scarce. So he probably made a wise decision. UConn has benefitted from players de-committing from elsewhere and coming to Storrs, such as Ryan Boatright. It’s just part of the recruiting process, which still has a long way to go with 2015 kids.


NBA teams still want Ray Allen. The Cavs are said to be pursuing him now. Allen’s “Ray of Hope” golf tournament at the TPC is set for Aug. 4, by the way. Here is some info on that.



Shabazz Napier has been up and down in the NBA summer league. Here is the update from his latest game with the Heat.



Had a nice talk today with former Husky Stanley Robinson, who played pro ball in Canada last year. “ Continue reading

The ESPYs: Red Carpet Treatment For Huskies?

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UConn’s run to the dual national championships is a gift that keeps on giving. The latest accolades beckoning the Huskies are the ESPYs – ESPN’s glitzy award show, which will be aired live on July 16 from Los Angeles. Drake is your host.

UConn men and women are up for several awards, for which you can cast a vote here.


  • Breanna Stewart is up for best female athlete, along with former Husky Maya Moore.
  • Stewart is also up for top college female athlete, and Moore for best WNBA player.
  • The UConn women, who went 40-0, are up for best team, along with the Red Sox, Kings, Spurs, Seahawks, Florida State football.
  • The UConn men’s run from No. 7 seed to the championship is nominated for “Best Upset,” along with Mercer’s win over Duke in men’s basketball, and Weidman over Silva in UCF.
  • Shabazz Napier is nominated for Best Championship Performance, along with David Ortiz, Kwahi Leonard and Jimmie Johnson.
  • In the Best Coach/Manager category, Geno Auriemma and Kevin Ollie are both nominated, along with John Farrell, Pete Carroll and Gregg Poppvich – that is quite a group.