MILWAUKEE – Kevin Ollie trailed his players and coaches into the historic downtown hotel and was immediately greeted warmly by its staff.
It’s a scene at could be repeated a lot. Ollie played a half-season with the Bucks and recalled he lived here for over a month, “with those make-good contracts, you know,” he said, “you’re not looking to go buy a place.”
Milwaukee was one of 12 stops during Ollie’s NBA career, and, of course, he’s well liked everywhere he has been.
Phil Nolan is a Milwaukee kid. He tried out-of-state prep schools, but came back home to finish at Riverside. Now he has a chance to play for UConn in front of his hometown friends and he said he got about 15 tickets. Nolan has watched games at Bradley Center, but never played there.
“I don’t know Omar Calhoun felt going into the Garden,” he said, “But I wouldn’t call it a mecca.”
Growing up as a basketball player in Milwaukee, Nolan said he experienced some “pretty intense” games. But with the Bucks often struggling, there wasn’t a lot of buzz about the NBA. “A lot of kids in the inner-city are Marquette fans,” he said.
Nolan, though he was offered a scholarship, said he and Marquette were never close to coming together. But the chance to play in Milwaukee “was one of the draws when I committed to UConn,” he said.
The 6-9 Nolan played six minutes against Washington. Ollie is always exhorting him to be more aggressive, more physical and he hopes to work him in for more minutes with Tyler Olander and Enosch Wolf as he improves.
“Phil is asking a lot of questions about the nuances of the game,” Ollie said. “After two hours of practice, he’s grabbing me, grabbing coach [Glen] Miller and he’s looking for feedback. You like to see that in young player. He’s not going into a shell because he’s not playing, he’s asking ‘how can I get better? How can I get on the court, coach?’”
Here is the our main story on the UConn-Marquette game on our main website, and in the Tuesday Courant.
Shabazz Napier was named on the Big East Honor Roll last week. He had 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win over Washington.
A new Ollie-ism: “The past doesn’t equal the future. If you think the past equals the future, then you’re living in the past.” His point was, he thinks his team’s best basketball is ahead of it.
The Huskies did not make it back into the Top 25. They were eight back of the top 25 in “also receiving votes” in the AP writers poll, and nine back in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Here are the complete rankings from ESPN.
Ryan Boatright will have a long list of friends and family here from Chicago. “We we travel, we travel in packs,” he said.
Buzz Williams will not be coaching this game for Marquette; he is on suspension, a school-imposed sanction for NCAA infractions. On Saturday, when he got the news of Kevin Ollie’s extension, he said: “I think [Ollie] is a stud. I love it. I’ve loved him before he got into coaching. I love his path, I respect his path, I think he’s a star. It’s hard to follow a Hall-of-Famer, but I think he has enough bravado to do it.”
Here is our capsulized look at the game, for the Tuesday Courant.