Kevin Ollie goes back far enough with UConn basketball to remember the rivalry with Boston College.
“It’s a great team right in our region here and we had a lot of wars in the Big East,” Ollie said Monday, speaking with reporters on a conference call to advance the upcoming 2K Classic games at Madison Square Garden. “I remember a lot of them when I played at the University of Connecticut. … We would like to rekindle that rivalry again.”
The rivalry, as we know, ended in 2005 on bad terms – bad terms even by the standards of a rivalry. BC pulled out of the Big East, which was the first step of the painful process that eventually broke up the conference. Jim Calhoun vowed never to play them again, and a few years later AD Gene DeFilippo said that it was BC that blocked UConn from joining the ACC.
But the cast of characters has changed, and UConn and Boston College will meet again on the Garden floor on Thursday night in the semifinals of the tournament. Indiana and Washington play in the other game, with the winners and losers to meet o n Friday night.
UConn was 8-0 against the Eagles during Ollie’s playing career, and won 28 of the last 31 meetings between the schools. Ollie remembered one game in particular …
“We were down 29 or 30, I may be exaggerating – I get that from Coach Calhoun – and we came back,” Ollie said. “I remember that game vividly. We always had some tough battles. I love the challenge Boston College presents every game.”
Ollie was apparently referring to a game on Feb. 9, 1994 in which the Huskies were down 18 in the second half, and ended up winning in Double OT.
UConn and BC hooked up on occasion at The Garden in Big East Tournaments. They played there, also, in the NIT semifinal in 1988.
“We always had some great guards and they had some great guards,” Ollie said, “and it was always a battle.”
Those old Big East days are gone, and to remain a presence in New York, something very important to UConn for many reasons, it’s necessary to schedule games like this, regardless of the opponent and the history involved. Ollie would like to find a way to play in MSG once or twice a year.
“Whenever we have the opportunity to play down there,” he said, “we’re going to play down there.”
Indiana Tom Crean and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar offered some thoughts on UConn during the call, and we’ll have some of that on the main website and in the Tuesday Courant.