ORLANDO, Fla. – The Huskies concentrated on film study on Friday, and spent their Saturday morning practice working on the things that went wrong at Cincinnati.
A few notes, quotes following practice, as players and coaches returned to their hotel …
DeAndre Daniels practiced without limitations and seemed to be Okay for the game against UCF Sunday night.
“I felt a lot better,” he said. “I got a massage yesterday as soon as I got in, from like head to toe, and I feel like that helped me a lot. … Last couple of games it’s been killing me, watching my teammates play without me. I definitely feel like I could have helped us win the game at Cincinnati. But I’m, just focusing on getting back healthy. … Practice today was fine, I did everything and I didn’t think I’d be able to do everything.”
This, of course, is about where Daniels was on Thursday morning. Back spasms have a way of coming and going mysteriously, so the Huskies can only hope they’re gone.
“I was fine the day before,” Daniels said. “Day before, I practiced. … Then I got out on the floor for the shoot-around before the game and I was just shooting a couple of shots, and I remember my back locking up. I couldn’t really move. I went back and forth to see if it would go away, but it wouldn’t go away.
“… I could have helped a lot of ways. Helped defend Justin Jackson better, and rebounding – we got outrebounded in the second half. I feel like I could have helped there, and scored the basketball. I feel I could have helped us win that game.”
Daniels will continue to get treatment from athletic trainer James Doran throughout Saturday and Sunday, but right now it looks good for the game.
Some other injuries, too: Ryan Boatright was banged up in the game the other night, and came away with some neck and shoulder soreness, but stayed in and seems to be Okay.
“Boats a warrior,” Kevin Ollie said. “He going to keep going out there and fighting, but we need his mind and his heart together, especially on defensive end.”
Shabazz Napier had an ice pack on his left wrist as he spoke to reporters. He said he had ligament damage he has been dealing with, on and off, for a while. Some days it’s more sore than others.
“He’s been dealing with it,” Ollie said. “But it doesn’t stop him from shooting his 30-footers, so I don’t think his wrist is hurting too bad.”
(The coach was referring to ‘Bazz’s well-covered perimeter shots at Cincinnati, a little dig there.)
Ollie on getting big men involved, as they were against Central Florida in UConn’s 84-61 win at Gampel on Jan. 11:
“We got to throw it down there to them,” he said. “We watched tape of that, too. They’re open down there. There’s going to be a lack of production if you don’t throw it to them. You got to have that balance, and I think our guards see that. They’re quick to respond. I think we’ll see that ball doing down there to ‘em. If they’re not working they’re not going to get it. But we saw a couple of times where they were working – they got to get the ball. At the end of the day, you’ve got to rebound. That’s where I think Amida [Brimah] got his 20 points against UCF, he got on the offensive boards. That’s a play for you if you’re a real big-time rebounder, you see that ball going up and you know that’s a play for you.
“We have to reward them. The bigs have got to keep running. We got to reward them when they seal down there, we got to get ‘em the basketball.
I told Amida, ‘Just watch that tape and duplicate it. Just duplicate that.’ It was nothing we can draw up, or they can draw up. He was just out working and that’s what we want him to do each and every day. I’m not expecting 20 and 8, I am expecting ‘level 5 intensity.’”
On responding from the tough loss, first Kevin Ollie:
“I thought our defense let down in the second half,” Ollie said. “First half we had three ‘kills’ [three defensive stops in a row], second half we didn’t have any. The percentage is on our side when we get five kills in a game, three stops in a row. We just didn’t do that and it was a lack of effort. It wasn’t anything they did new that we didn’t go over, it was lack of effort, communication. Those are the things we can correct. It wasn’t like something we can’t correct.
… We let an opportunity slip away. That’s why I was a little snappy at the end of the game, because that was a great opportunity, I don’t care who was on the team, we let that slip away but we’re going to get another one if we keep working, keep doing the things we have to do.
“… It’s about us growing, it’s about us maturing, it’s about us recovering and responding from that loss. It was a tough loss, but every team is going to face that, but can we respond now? That’s the challenge I put to those guys, and great thing about our team is they put the challenge to themselves.”
“[The mood] has been okay. Guys haven’t been down on themselves. We had a big film session, coach explained what we did right and explained what we did wrong. At the end of it, he felt happy with way we played. We wish we could have had that one, but we got to understand our best player didn‘t play the game. DeAndre is not playing the game we’re only down by two points with two minutes left. I’m, pretty sure if DeAndre played we probably would have beat them. … I’m not too worried. I’m a competitor, of course I want to win. But we have to learn from it and move on.”
On the rematch with Central Florida.
“We’re not thinking, ‘we beat them already.’ Every team, over a period of time, is going to be better. They’ve got a new lineup, they’ve been switching up. I’m pretty sure their coach, Mr. Jones, has some ideas about what’s best for them and what they can exploit against us. We’ve got to play good defense, stop them, get the ball in transition like we’re supposed to do and the game is in our hands.”
[Isaiah] Sykes is still there. … We have to load up to him, he comes off screen and rolls. First game we did a good job on him, I know he’s going to look for different advantages. Lasan [Kromah] is going to start out on him. But we’re going to have to do it will all five guys, 10 eyes looking at him.
And we’ve got to rebound. They average 15 offensive rebounds, we did good job at Gampel of that, too.”