STORRS – Some notes, quotes and thoughts from the Huskies’ post-practice interviews on Wednesday …
DeAndre Daniels’ availability for UConn’s game against Houston is still up in the air. Coach Kevin Ollie said Daniels was “probable for the next game,” by which he apparently meant at Cincinnati on Feb. 6.
As for Houston on Thursday night, Daniels was to be re-evaluated when the Huskies came out for shoot-around at about 4 p.m. “If we hold him out of the shoot-around we’ll probably sit him out,” Ollie said.
Daniels sustained a high ankle sprain, the right ankle, when he fell over teammate Ryan Boatright at Rutgers. He came back and gutted out a few minutes in the second half, after the medical staff taped up the leg.
But he has not practiced since. Injuries like this do tend to swell up and get sore the second day. If Daniels cannot move around well, there would not be a lot of sense in sending him out against Houston’s TaShawn Thomas, who would be a bear of a defensive assignment.
Without Daniels, the Huskies will be playing it “by committee.” Amida Brimah, Phil Nolan, Tyler Olander, Kentan Facey all get a shot.
Ollie had encouraging words for Omar Calhoun, who missed last game with a sprained left ankle but is expected to play Thursday.
“He has been working his butt off, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Ollie said. “He’s going to get another great opportunity to get out of his slump. He’s been coming to practice each and every day, practicing full speed, level five, and that’s why I think there’s going to be a breakthrough real soon.”
UConn worked on transition defense this week; the Cougars killed them on the fast break on New Year’s Eve. Niels Giffey and Lasan Kromah both noted the Huskies had too many players crashing the boards, not enough getting back on defense that night. They want to get Houston in a halfcourt game if they can. L.J. Rose and Danuel House, both of whom missed the last game, will be back for Houston. House scored 22 against SMU, a Cougars loss.
Ollie on Shabazz Napier’s recent scoring binge:
“He’s taking it to the rim. He’s getting to free throw line. He’s in attack mode. I can isolate him, run him off pick and rolls, I can run him off screens. That’s a great luxury as a coach and I manipulate all of that. [Rutgers coach] Eddie Jordan did a good job doubling him, so I took him off the ball and ran him off screens. I see the way teams are trying to play against him and I got to find a way to get the ball in his hands and so he can score.”
The Huskies are 0-3 in these 9 p.m. starts … coincidence? “I never thought about it,” Lasan Kromah said. “To me, a night game’s a night game, it doesn’t make a difference.”