Larry Brown on Kevin Ollie: ‘UConn Has Something Special Here’

by Categorized: Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, UConn men's basketball

I had the chance to speak to another coaching legend today. Larry Brown, 72, who is returning to coaching with SMU, spoke by phone from his office in Dallas and offered some of his thoughts on Kevin Ollie and Jim Calhoun.

Brown, who coached Ollie with the 76ers, 1999-2001, clearly thinks highly – and cares very deeply – about the new UConn coach.

“He’s a great kid, a great teammate, he was great to be around,” Brown said. “He was a mentor to our young players. Like all of the players I coached who had been with [Jim] Calhoun, he accepted coaching the right way, he allowed you to make him better.

“… Two years ago, he called me. I know he was thinking about going back to Oklahoma City [as a player], and I told him, ‘you know you want to coach eventually. What better opportunity than to go back to your school, and with your coach, who loves you.’ … Two years with [Calhoun], Kevin has all the preparation he needs.”

Brown on Ollie’s one-year contract.

“Not to be a jerk, but I’m not happy about the one-year contract. … It’s not going to be easy. But Kevin has been in so many situations and he knows how to handle it and I know he can be successful. I hope they realize at Connecticut that they have something special here. Coach Calhoun recognized it.”

Some of his memories of Ollie as an NBA player

“We had a lot of young players, Todd MacCulloch, Nazr Mohammed, Raja Bell, and I would have workouts just for the young guys who weren’t playing much. And Kevin would show up, and set an example. I’d  give the veterans a day off and Kevin would call me on the phone and say, ‘coach, what time is practice.’ And you know, a lot of those young guys ended up getting long- term contracts and staying a lot of years in the NBA, and Kevin helped them achieve that.”

On Jim Calhoun’s retirement

“I can’t imagine The Big East without him. I can’t imagine college basketball without him. I love what he stood for. I just think of all his former players I coached in various places, Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Kevin, and how they respected the game, how they played the game the right way. [Calhoun’s] contributions to the game were just tremendous.”

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4 thoughts on “Larry Brown on Kevin Ollie: ‘UConn Has Something Special Here’

  1. Mike McManus

    Maybe the recent comments from two well-knowm NBA coached, Paxson and Brown, will offset the concerns of the pundits…including a few journalists whom we know..who kept repeating that “he’s never been a head coach!” Just maybe Jim Calhoun, who seems to be respected by many in the profession in contrast to some of our local “experts,” has a better perspective on what qualities his replacement should possess and why he went to bat for kevin Ollie. Time will tell but I’m solidly in Ollie’s corner.

    1. Chris

      LOVE IT. spot on. these “experts” dont have a clue what theyre talking about. NBA coaches, GM’s, current players, former players, college coaches, recruits, everybody RAVES about him. NOBODY has a single bad thing to say about him. We will see about his in game coaching abilities, but I dont think theres any doubt he will be a force on the recruiting trail and an effective leader for our program.

  2. Pat Finn

    It was about time Jim retired. He was in no condition to continue. Ollie is a good pick as he knows the UConn style of play.

    Thanks Hartford Courant for putting UConn women’s sports on your site. My greatest fear now that UConn has abandoned CPTV for SNY after 18 years is that they will make another stupid decision and leave the Big East. If that happens, I hope they go to the SEC as then TN will have to play UConn again. Thanks for your equal coverage of the woman’s team.

    1. Paul

      They will have to leave the big east or they wont have anyone to play! It will be the ACC though. SEC will not want uconn because the football program isnt a national power. Application is already into the ACC as well. Its a great fit all around.

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