HARTFORD – A few notes, quotes, thoughts following UConn’s 90-66 win over Temple on a snowy New England night:
… After practice on Monday, one of Kevin Ollie’s parting thoughts was, “one thing, we respond, and you all know that.”
During Ollie’s year and a half as coach, the Huskies have rarely had two bad games in a row, depending on the opponents, of course. The Houston-SMU trip was an exception. Last year, there was Cincinnati-USF, when UConn had a lot of injuries late in the season.
Generally, bouncing back is something the Huskies do. This was an example. Look, Temple is pretty bad defensively and has not been a good rebounding team. But at 0-5 in the league, they figures to come in hungry. And UConn took care of its task.
This is what UConn, at 15-4, needs to do now: string a few more wins like this together against the soft bottom half of the AAC and the Huskies can start thinking about the tournament.
Highlights from Kevin Ollie:
“It was a good comeback for us. We recovered. We played Connecticut basketball. We defended, for most of the game. We had a couple of lulls here and there, but I like how the guys came out at ‘level five.’On offense, the ball was not sticking at all. It was moving. I haven’t looked at the tape yet but I think when I do I’m going to be excited about the way we were moving the ball. We say, ‘three beats,’ don’t hold the ball more than three beats. After that, either shoot, pass it or drive.
“To get 90 points, I don’t care who you’re playing – we’ve played Division II teams and haven’t scored 90 points. Ninety points is great. Temple has some great players over there and a lot of pride. Coach [Fran] Dunphy, I love him to death and I think he’s going to get that team back going in the right direction. But I did want to make sure that we defended our house. I don’t think we did that against Louisville. Louisville knocked us out and we didn’t really give ourselves a chance in the ring. Tonight we were in the middle of the ring and we were fighting.
I told the guys, ‘if we rebound, we win. You’ve got to commit to hit.’ And we did that tonight.
DeAndre [Daniels] had a great game. I want him to be more consistent. He just came out with some fire, I don’t know what he ate but we’re going to make sure we find out and keep him on that plan. I mean, every tipped ball – early on he wasn’t even scoring, but he was just going for every rebound and I always tell you that activity, that energy always finds the basketball. He didn’t settle. He made some threes, and then he got to the rim. That’s what I like. That’s when his whole game opens up, not when he’s just bombing threes. I love 12 rebounds – that’s what everybody wants to see him do, because I know he can do it. Now, let’s put them together. That energy and effort is what I want to see from him every night. You miss a shot, don’t put your head down. …
[Shabazz Napier] set the tone, I thought. He just ran the show. It makes a coach’s job so much easier when you have a point guard that knows the game as well as he does, and knows when to pick and choose his spots, but also gets everybody involved. That was a masterful job by him.
Now we get back on the road at Rutgers and try to get another road [win] in New Jersey.
“I talked to [Ryan Boatright] right before the funeral, I talked to [Ryan’s mother] Tanesha and just let them know we’re thinking about him. He sent me a text and told me to ‘get the dub’ [the win], get the players to rally around him and he’ll be back. Ryan’s a basketball player and I know he would have [done anything] to be on the court.”
“… It’s a tough situation, the kid [Arin Williams, Ryan's cousin] dies at 21, I can’t even imagine what they’re going through. I know his family is going to get through it by leaning on their God. The funeral was today, it would have been tough for him to get back, especially with the snow. But I’m glad he stuck with his family, to be there for his mother. He has younger brothers and sisters and I’m sure they wanted the man of the house to be there.”
UConn has never had two 30-point scorers in the same game. Shabazz Napier launched a three with 1:52 left that would have done it, but he missed and came out. “Shabazz would have gone for 50 if he didn’t have those fouls,” Daniels said.
Got to save something for tomorrow. I’ll write more about Daniels, his up and down season, what it means for his NBA aspirations and how to go about getting that elusive consistency. Daniels was stand-up, saying he felt he “let his teammates and fans down” in the Louisville game.
Terrence Samuel appears a bit frustrated that he hasn’t played more as a freshman. “I guess the coach doesn’t trust me right now,” he said. “But I understand we’ve got a great point guard in front of me and I’ve got to wait my turn, I guess.”
Samuel has played very little. In 16 minutes against Temple, he held things together, but was mistake prone, called for traveling a couple of times.
Napier serves as his mentor.
“I’m trying to help him out,” Napier said. “We’re going to need him down the line, we’re going to need him in games where I got two fouls or Ryan’s got two fouls. He’s got to continue to be ready. Next year, it’ll be a big step for him. When you’re not playing you feel like you’re not leaning a lot. Games like this where he’s playing a lot, this is a time for you to learn a lot. I was telling him, if you have a turnover, just go to the next play. I have so many turnovers on the season, and I’m not going to worry about it because it’s part of basketball. He’s a great talent, he’s definitely going to be a good Husky in the future. But he needs to learn how to keep his composure because as a point guard, you need that for your team to understand that you’re the leader.”
Drive safe. We’ll catch up tomorrow.