STORRS – As one would expect, Kevin Ollie had little to say on conference realignment. It’s not really his concern at the moment …
“I’m happy we’re breathing,” he said, after UConn’s practice Wednesday. “I’m happy we’re in the league we’re in, and we have the games we’ve got. Wherever we are, we’re going to be trying to win games, win league championships.”
“… I will leave it up to Warde Manuel and our great president [Susan Herbst], I have faith in them to do the right thing for this university, and I love this university.”
UConn (5-1) is playing New Hampshire (2-3) on Thursday night at XL. UConn has been out-rebounded in each of its six games.
“K.O., coach Ollie, emphasizes rebounding so much, it gets annoying sometimes,” Ryan Boatright said. “We know we have to rebound better to win. We escaped the first four or five games, getting out-rebounded, but against New Mexico it came back and bit us in the butt.”
Niels Giffey said, “we have to know who we’re boxing out, and when the big guys box out the other guys have to jump in t here sometimes. It’s a team thing.”
Ollie: “I’m seeing progress, I’m not going to say I don’t. We’re going to embrace the struggle. We’re going to rebound, and we’re going to go on the break. … One day this thing is going to explode, and you’re going to say, ‘wow, look at those guys.”
The Unified Team from Kennedy High in Waterbury, special needs students who play at halftime of Kennedy’s regular basketball games, was on hand to watch all of UConn’s two-hour practice. Afterward, Ollie and the Huskies players came over to greet and shake hands.
Alex Oriakhi, who has transferred to Missouri, continues to express opinions regarding his last season at UConn under Jim Calhoun. He told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com:
“It was hard … to help a team win a national championship and then you’re on the bench. Everyone talks about loyalty, but it’s one-sided. Coach [Jim] Calhoun tried to get me to stay, but my mind was made up. I was laughing at him in my head. … What he did last year was ridiculous, especially to a junior. I figured I’d get a little leeway. I didn’t get treated like that as a freshman.”
I imagine even on this day dominated with ACC’s snubbing of UConn, this will generate some discussion!
R.J. Evans, recovering from the sprain in his sternum-clavicular area, was doing some light shooting. He’d like to return for the game vs. NC State at The Garden next Tuesday, but UConn athletic trainer James Doran says that is “very optimistic.” A return for Dec. 7 vs. Harvard is more realistic for Evans.
Leon Tolksdorf, who missed the Stony Brook game with a sore knee, practiced full out and will be available for New Hampshire. UConn will have 10 scholarship players available.