HARTFORD – Some highlights of Kevin Ollie’s remarks, following UConn’s 66-54 win over Rutgers at the XL Center:
“The game was filled with ups and downs, but we played hard, we played aggressively on defense. I put a couple of goals on the board and we achieved those. We improved. It’s about wins and losses, but it’s really not about wins and losses. It’s about growing as a team, improving as a team.
“We were plus four on the backboards, which I love to see. We held them under 40 percent, which I love to see. So, that’s improvement. Now, we have to be consistent. Now we have to go to the next game and the next game and start stringing them together.”
The defensive effort is one thing that we stressed throughout this week of practice, and I thought we got it from everybody. It was a team win….Everybody contributed. It’s good to get off that schneid and get a win, especially after a long time off. The kids played hard and played with a lot of heart today.
“… I’m happy, I’m happy to be breathing – to get up this morning. We are wearing sneakers for people with cancer. I may get down when we lose, or don’t play well. But I bounce back. Sure, I’m happy with 13 and 5, but we have to continue to get better every day. If we get better every day, I’ll be happy.”
“… You got it, [the two goals] were rebounding and defense.”
… It was more than just points [for Shabazz Napier] today. It was his leadership, especially with Boatright getting into foul trouble. He had to play most of the point in the first half and he did a remarkable job….He makes timely shots, he makes winning plays. That’s why I love the kid. He’s getting better as a leader. He’s improving each and every day about that. We always say `you’re not born a leader, you make the choice to be a leader.” He is really making a definite choice to be a leader on this team. It’s not going to be perfect. He’s going to have his times, which we all know because they’re young adults. But he is really making a constant effort to try to lead….What he gave us in practice this week was remarkable.
… When I look up versatility in the dictionary, I see Niels Giffey’s picture by it. I call on him to play the three, the four, two, one, he just steps up and does it. I love him to death. He played an excellent game. … That [steal, basket, and-one] was crucial. And then he went up strong. And that’s what we’ve been telling Niels. Niels is so athletic, and sometimes he goes in, but not with force. He went up with force. He went right through Judge and got the foul. We always talk about playing through contact…It really energized us and propelled up to a nice victory.
“… DeAndre [Daniels] played an excellent game, coming in and getting rebounds, playing aggressively.
“… I thought Enosch [Wolf] stepped up in the second half, just being big. I thought we were going into our second game with no blocked shots, and then he came up and got three for me in the second half. I’m very proud of him.”