BRISTOL – Spent the day Thursday in ESPN’s NCAA Tournment “War Room” talking basketball with its analysts for a story to come in The Courant.
Seth Greenberg, former Long Beach State, South Florida and Virginia Tech coach, was most impressed with, and effusive about UConn’s Kevin Ollie, saying he should be in the conversation for national coach of the year:
“There’s no manual for the situation he came in to,” Greenberg said. “He’s replacing a legend [Jim Calhoun], and he has the legend sitting there every game. He handled it with so much grace.
“… I watched a practice. He didn’t run a good practice – he ran a great practice, the attention to detail. But it’s not just the X’s and O’s, it’s how hard you get the kids to play for you. No postseason to play for, and they played hard for him all the way through, they played for pride in the university because they saw his pride in the university. He was able to get his love, his passion, his pride across to them.
“What stood out for me was after they beat Syracuse, and he was being interviewed, and Shabazz Napier was next to him, and [Ryan] Boatright, I think, and then the whole team was there, standing behind their coach. That was vivid to me. Vivid. As a coach, that’s what you want is for your team to be behind you. I don’t think I’d ever seen that before in a regular season game. But he has a love affair with UConn, and everyone who plays for him is going to have a love affair.
“And don’t forget, he had a staff of [former] head coaches, and yet HE was the head coach. That’s not easy, either. Impressive. … Impressive.”