Phil Nolan is back from the Four Nations Cup in Tallinn, Estonia, where his team, the East Coast All-Stars, finished 2-1, losing the final game to Estonia, 88-79.
I asked coach Guy Rancourt how Nolan did:
“Phil did a great job,” Rancourt said. “His energy and effort on the offensive glass gave us much-needed second- and third-chance opportunities throughout. He was a very good free-throw-shooter as well, he made two cluitch shots form the line with under a minute to play in our three-point victory over Belarus.”
Nolan played 7 ½ minutes in the last game, got two rebounds and hit his two free throw attempts. In the previous two games, Nolan had five points and s four rebounds in a 93-75 win over Slovakia, four points and four rebounds in a 71-68 win over Belarus in the other games, playing about 14 minutes in each.
The East Coast stars, representing the U.S., finished third in the tournament. Russ Smith of Louisville scored 30 against Estonia and Kadeem Batts of Providence scored 14. Rakeem Christmas of Syracuse was another familiar Big East name on Nolan’s team. Rancourt is the coach at Lycoming College.
Nolan’s free-throw shooting is visible sign of his improvement – remember how shaky he was at the line early last year?
Bottom line: good experience for the sophomore. Nolan, 6-foot-9, has worked hard to build his body and he’s a player from whom UConn needs to see improvement. With Enosch Wolf gone and freshmen Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah needing time to develop, Nolan and Tyler Olander will have to hold down that position when next season begins. Nolan showed encouraging signs late last season, and this international tournament got him out of his comfort zone, forcing him to adjust to a different style of basketball. It can only help build his confidence.