STORRS – Some notes, quotes and thoughts from Monday practice, and an eventful day for the Huskies …
Kevin Ollie stopped practice at one point, held his thumb and forfinger an inch apart and told his team, “We could be 3-3, we’re this close. That’s why I get on you guys, I want you to be great.”
The Huskies 6-0 start includes a 1-point wins over Maryland and Indiana and a 2-point win over BC.
“We’re glad we got those wins we only got by 1 or 2 points,” Shabazz Napier said. “It just shows us that through all the tick and think and we can still get out of there with a win. Every game is not going to be easy, every game is not going to be a blowout. For us to get that experience early, it’s going to better us in the future.”
More from Ollie:
On Dylon Cormier, who is averaging 29.8 points per game …
“He’s averaging eight rebounds, he’s got 20 offense rebounds [in four games]. He’s taking 20 shots per game, he presents a big-time challenge. You just want to make his possessions hard.
We play defense. We load to the basketball and that takes care of itself He’s taking 20 shots a game, so he’s going to have the basketball in his hand. We load up to our opponents, we play ball pressure and we have a shell behind. We try to take them out of different sets that they like to get into and we just want to make the night difficult for him, we don’t want to give him easy layups.”
He’s getting to the free throw line a lot, and that’s where he’s had his big nights, get to that line 12, 13 times.”
On Phil Nolan’s struggles with foul trouble …
“It’s a combination of him not getting there early, and breakdowns of our guards giving up penetration. He’s got to be on the cour. He’s got to understand, I want him to play aggressive; I want him to anticipate better. They’re calling the ticky-tack fouls, so if you’re over there early and help maybe you can get a change. Get in better position to get a defensive stop instead of a foul. At the end of the day [he has] got to be our rim protector.”
On his decision to play Lasan Kromah and Niels Giffey instead of Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun during the final minutes vs. Indiana:
“The only guy we had with a hot hand was Shabazz. Hot hand on defense? I’ve never heart of that. But, Okay. Their defense was good and I just thought Lasan made Yogi [Ferrell’s] life a little difficult with his length. He was playing tremendous on the pick-and-rolls and Niels gave us another rebounder in there.
“Some games it’s going to happen that way, some games it’s not. You have to accept it as a basketball player and everybody’s got to step up and play better. If you expect minutes at the end of the game, you’ve got to produce during the game, you’ve got to play defense. It’s a product of the [depth] on our team. We can go big, we can stay small.”
On avoiding a let-down for a mid-major on the schedule between Indiana and Florida …
“Every game counts. It always comes down to leadership, not only playing the game but coaching the game, too. Hopefully, these guys who have been around here a long time are able to do that. … If you’re good enough to be on the court, you’re good enough to be a leader. … But they will hear it from my mouth a lot of times.”
More from Shabazz Napier, on the Huskies’ mindset vs. Loyola:
“It’s another great team we have to play against,” Napier said. “Granted, they are a mid major. We just came off Indiana. We don’t think, ‘oh, we just played Indiana, we should beat this team.’ We have a new mind set – Indiana is Indiana, it’s over with. [Loyola] is undefeated. They’re going to want to come in here and stay undefeated. We have to make sure they leave with one in the loss column. A win is a win, no matter what. “
Dylon Cormier is just the latest of a series of talented, high scoring guards the Huskies have faced. But once again, they have an advantage in preparing – Rodney Purvis simulating them in practice. For the Tuesday Courant, I spoke with Purvis about the productive use his is making of his year sitting out, helping his teammates in practice. Here is that story.
Loyola’s Denzel Brito, to plays 22 minutes off the bench, was a teammate of Napier’s at Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts. UConn’s first commit from the Class of 2015 is Prince Ali. The Huskies moved up five spots in the AP poll, to No. 13, and five in the USA Today Coaches poll, to No. 14. UMass is ranked for the first time in 15 years. … Here is the UConn notebook for the Courant.