HARTFORD – Some final notes, quotes, thoughts from UConn’s 61-53 win over Washington, before I head out into the snowy night.
The day started off with Warde Manuel welcoming all to “a great day in our history.” It was, indeed, a memorable day. Kevin Ollie can settle in now, he is the coach for the long term.
As I expounded in an earlier post, I think it’s the right move. The guy has been impressive in every way since he took over, and as Geno Auriemma pointed out, he stepped into a tough situation. He has earned this chance.
The players, of course, were happy. “We’re so happy and proud,” Enosch Wolf said. “We knew he deserved the contract, and we wanted to give him our all on and off the court to make sure he got it. Now we want to play even harder, we want to show he’s the right guy.”
Shabazz Napier said, “I’m just happy it happened. He’s worked hard, he’s earned this spot. He has done a spectacular job on and off the court. These coaches are the reason we are 10-2.”
Manuel told players during their shoot around, “and we clapped it up for coach Ollie,” Omar Calhoun said. “It was definitely relieving for everybody.”
Okay, so that’s over. UConn’s other big issue, rebounding also moved in the right direction. They out-rebounded somebody, Washington, 40 to 36. “You can say, ‘give UConn credit,’” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said, “or you can say, ‘they weren’t any good, what in t he world was wrong with your team?’ I’m the coach of the Washington Huskies, so I give UConn credit. There were a lot of defensive rebounds to be had, and they did a great job of going and getting them.”
It helped that Washington’s big men were in foul trouble. If Aziz N’Diaye played 35 minutes instead of 14, UConn probably would not have had the rebounding edge. But UConn went at it hard and, hey, you play the game you’re in. It was a physical game. “I needed a physical game like this,” Wolf said. “I wanted to show I could respond.”
Here is the main game story in the Sunday Courant.
UConn has won 13 in a row against PAC 12 teams, the last loss was to UCLA in the 1995 Regional, which was Ollie’s last game as a player. Romar was an assistant on that team.
“I followed Kevin closely because he was from LA,” Romar said, “but I didn’t really get to know him until he went into coaching. When he went into coaching after 13 years in the NBA, he didn’t carry himself like he was above anything, he carried himself like a student, like he wanted to learn as much as he could. … Kevin is one of those guys, the game benefits by his being in it.”
DeAndre Daniels hit the floor hard late in the game. He needed stitches on his chin. “He’ll have a battle wound,” Ollie said. “It will make him look tougher.” Daniels will be evaluated, to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion. Ollie hopes to have him for the Marquette game.
UConn really clamped down on C.J. Wilcox, holding him to five points, 2 for 12. Napier’s ball pressure was the start, and they go help. Napier said Ryan Boatright did a solid job on Abdul Gaddy. So Washington had to go to Scott Suggs, who scored 15, but was 5 for 15 from the floor. Give an assist to Brendan Allen, who imitated Wilcox in practice this week.
Here is our picture gallery from the game.
Here is your box score.
Enosch Wolf, predictably, said it doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench. … He had the hot hand, so Ollie stayed with him. Once again, the Huskies got a spark from R.J. Evans, who came off the bench when they were down 16-10 and was in for most of their 11-0 run, scoring four points. He had a big steal later in the game. … Napier said Ollie had no worries about the players school work, since it has been all good in recent years. But, of course, it was on everyone’s mind. “We’re being punished [with ineligbility over APR] for something we didn’t do,” he said.
Okay, next up: Milwaukee on New Year’s Day. Travel safe.
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