DALLAS – Some notes, quotes and thoughts from practice and brand-spanking-new Moody Coliseum:
… Practice went long, about a half an hour longer than expected. Kevin Ollie worked the Huskies hard the last two days, to try to get rid of the taste of that game at Houston.
It looks as if Tyler Olander is going to get the start at center. He would be the third in the last four games, though Ollie said that will be a game time decision.
Karl Hobbs and Ricky Moore were not at practice, they’re out on recruiting trips.
Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson, both of whom played with Ollie and for Larry Brown on the 2000-01 Sixers, are expected to come to the game. It’s been quite a trip for big names, with Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone in Houston.
Here is my interview with the legendary Larry Brown.
The Huskies visited Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, site of the Final Four. They drove by the site of the 2011 Final Four in Houston, “and I saluted,” Ollie said.
Here are highlights of Kevin Ollie’s interview:
[Practices] were good. Getting back to basics, we lost a little bit of that edge in the first half [in Houston]. I thought we played great in the second half. One person who stood out in the first half was Ryan Boatright, he had an outstanding game with 19 points and nine assists. We need him to continue to share the basketball, be a person that penetrates and goes down the lane. We need Shabazz [Napier] to pick it up the entire game, we want DeAndre [Daniels] to pick it up. I could go right down the list. I’ve got to pick it up. I might have to smash two clipboards instead of one. It was disappointing, the way we came out in the first half, but I like how the guys stood up. They responded the right way. Good teams have road bumps, but they identify them and try to solve them. It can’t always be coaching – it’s got to be the players within, coaching themselves. Hopefully we can get that back tomorrow afternoon.
We need to get back to our principals and understand who we are and what we represent. They have enough pride, and you’ve seen that through a lot of games that they play with t hat intensity. It’s nothing I can force, I can just try to help them find that every single day. As a coach I try to be the keeper of the vision.
We want to be an NCAA tournament team, and we can’t let opportunities slip like we did on the 31st down in Houston.”
On playing against Larry Brown.
I just think he’s a great man. Any time I can see him, it’s great. I know he’s going to be on the opposing sideline, but every time I see him I get back memories of when I first met him and the type of person he was and what he really taught me about being an assertive leader.
But when we’re between the lines, I want to see UConn on top. I call him one of my mentors, he helped me grow from being a young man into a man. It’s going to be great to embrace him and hug him, know his spirit, but at the end of the day he wants SMU to be on top, too.”
What he tookaway from Brown:
Just his working with the young guys. I wasn’t playing a lot, he’d be down with us guys going three on three and he’d let the other coaches go down and work with Allen Iverson and the guys going five on oh. The time he spent with the other guys. He made us all feel important, and that’s the one thing I try to do with my team, make sure even the walk-ons know they’re important to our team.
One thing I learned from him, and from Coach Calhoun, being that type of person that’s detail oriented, all things done right. That’s one of his sayings, play the game the right way, whether you’re up 30 or down 30, play the game the right way. I try to have my guys do on a day-to-day basis.”
On touring the site of the Final Four
“I’m a big Cowboys fan. Just to see the place, I never seen it, the team has never seen it. We’ve got some Giants fans, ‘Bazz is a Patriots fan, but they still took pictures. I know I had a couple of moments where I looked around and said, ‘Boy, wouldn’t it be great to have UConn on that big jumbo tron up there” or Niels Giffey’s name be called out and Shabazz’s name and their pictures up there. Hopefully those guys got a feeling of that.
Hopefully guys reflect, we got to work really, really hard, you can’t have slip-ups like Houston if you want to be an NCAA tournament team and have a chance to win it. Houston played tremendously,. I give them all the credit.
… I have to do a better job on my end of getting my team ready, that’s a straight reflection of me. I take that responsibility seriously, get my guys out there playing. If I can’t, I got to find some guys that can
What I gave the guys was an Illustration of an ice berg. You see 10 percent of it, what’s below the water line is the big mass. There’s some things I can’t see, if you’re going home and thinking about the scouting report, if you’re watching tape, you’re doing the things that are unseen. If you’re not thinking about the game, about your matchup, your body and your sleep, how many shots your getting up, it’s not going to work.
I want us to be pros, professionals do it over and over and over again and come out and practice hard. No matter if your tired of feeling well, you’re the same way all the time. it might be hard but that’s what I preach,. Hopefully they’ll understand that and I’m not going to accept it if it’s [otherwise]. I’ll find some new guys, I’ll tolerate it until I can get some more recruits.
“Toughness is not going to go punch somebody. Toughness is going to set a screen. Toughness is running back on defense. Toughness is every available hit, I’m going to box out. That’s toughness to me, it’s not beating on your chest and going to fight somebody. It’s not that. It’s being consistent. That’s what I believe toughness is. We got to be these big bad guys with leather coats on going to fights somebody, that’s not toughness to me. Toughness is being consistent; you saw the game, were we consistent? No. we weren’t consistent in every aspect, we didn’t rebound, we didn’t get back on defense, we didn’t take defensive pressure, we didn’t go through out plays. It’s not being big bully guys, toughness is being who you are, recognize it who you are and going it over an over again.”
On possibility of starting Tyler Olander
I’m looking at that, he looked good the last couple of days. We’ll make that decision at game day.
On the 2000-01 Sixers, who lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals:
“That was the most special team I’ve been on,” Ollie said. “What we went through, the toughness that we showed. Now that team was tough. We had a couple of guys who didn’t get the basketball a lot, let Allen Iverson do his thing. George Lynch, Eric Snow, Dikembe, Theo Ratliff was there. There were some tough guys, mentally and physically, and that’s how I want my team to perform.”
From Niels Giffey
We had an intense practice yesterday. We’ve just got to bounce back. [Ollie] talked a lot about energy, focus. We watched the film, watched the whole first half, and analyzed it. It was just a lack of energy, a lack of focus. You have to realize it and find a way to get energized for the next game, there shouldn’t be another game where we come out like that.
“You could tell there was no toughness, no hustle. It’s really tough to play that way.
We have to come back to the basics. We broke down in so many of our principals – keeping guys out of the paint, keeping guys from penetrating. They made some tough shots.
“Obviously teams have scouted us and see how I get my shots. They switched on me and ‘Bazz on a couple of pick and rolls. We have to keep analyzing that and utilize that, when they switch on me and ‘Bazz, then that’s an open shot for ‘Bazz.
We have to bring the game to them. [Houston] brought the game to us, it wasn’t the game UConn should have played.”