STORRS – Some notes and quotes from Gampel, as UConn completed its preparation for the Rivalry Renewed, the game against BC at the Garden. As the Huskies were wrapping things up and talking to reporters, the bus was outside waiting to take them to New York
Here is Kevin Ollie sizing up BC:
“They play very well on offensive end. Olivier [Hanlan] is a great player, he’s going to be hard to defend, but we’re going to have to do it as a group, as a team, as we try to shut down every other guard.
Ollie on rebounding, UConn’s persistent bugaboo …
“The numbers say they’re not rebounding well, but we’re not going by those numbers. They have been giving up a lot of rebounds, hopefully we take advantage of that. It’s going and getting the basketball. We don’t have a guy that’s getting 20 rebounds a game, we don’t have a big rebounding man that’s doing that now. We’re doing it by committee, we’re boxing out. We can’t come up with any more drills. It’s the desire you’ve got to have. I know ‘Bazz is getting [9.5 per game]. He was the only one leaving the floor for a rebound. If I ran in there when [Dikembe Mutombo was there [for Georgetown], I’d probably have a bloody mouth.”
On the 2K Classic …
“It’s an opportunity to play for a championship, to go back to Madison Square Garden. I’m not sure they know the history of the BC and Connecticut rivalry. It’s been so far away.
I think they’re excited to play BC, excited to play an ACC opponent, and it’s in our back yard. It’s a New England rivalry. ‘Bazz being from Boston, I know he feels a little bit more energy for this game.
“We want to hoist that trophy up Friday night.
On UConn depth
“People say we can go to 10, I think we can go to 12. There are just not enough minutes in the game. We got a real deep bench, hopefully we can tire their bench out, hopefully that gives us a chance to go into Indiana [or Washington] fresher than the other teams.”
“They were always tough matchups. The guard matchups were exciting. Every time we played them, it came down to the end, down to a one possession game, and we executed at the end to win just about every game.”
“I’d ike to renew that rivalry, but we’ll see.”
There was a little talk on National Letters of Intent, UConn has not announced the receiving of any from its three verbal commits. Ollie said he was comfortable with whatever they choose to do …
“You got to be comfortable with it,” he said. “We can’t say ‘I don’t want you to come here.’ That’s their decision. I’m comfortable with it. We got verbal commitments and we’re going to stick by it unless they say they’re de-committed. And if they’re de-committed … a lot of people want to come here, if they don’t want to come then we keep moving on. It’s not like we’re an ugly duckling and nobody wants to marry us. We’ve got some other choices.”
Should a player be bound by a letter, even if a coach leaves?
“If you’re committed, you’re committed,” Ollie said. “Sometimes it hurts when a coach opts to go to the NBA like Brad Stevens, you’re kind of [bound] in that way. I understand where the player is coming from. But if you’re committed to a university, you’re committed to it.”
Shabazz Napier, UConn’s leading rebounder, on his success:
“Some of them just drop in my hand, some of them are because the big men are boxing out and I’m there to pick it up. I make a big point of emphasis on trying to rebound.
It started with Detroit. I was trying to rebound, and I got hit. BU was definitely like that, Maurice [Watson Jr.] and [D.J.] Irvin and their big guy [Dom Morris] hit me a couple of times when I was going for a rebound. It’s probably on scouting reports that I’m leading rebounder. I expect our big guys to rebound the ball. They’re doing their best, they’re boxing out I’m just picking up the scraps.”
“I got a lot of history with BC. My older brother used to play for them. When I was 13 years old, I was at BC playing in that gym. When I was coming up I was kind of surprised they didn’t offer me a scholarship until [late].”
“I understand UConn and BC have a rivalry, it’s a New England thing. These are two totally different teams that haven’t played in a while. I expect this to be a good game.”
Do you think UConn and BC should play every year? Weigh in here.
Some news from earlier in the day: UConn signed on to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic in November 2014 – and BC is in the field there, too.
Spoke to Jim Calhoun, Dee Rowe and former BC star Malcolm Huckaby about the Rivalry Renewed, for our main story on the website and for Thursday’s Courant.
This will bring back some memories – a huge gallery of old pictures from UConn-BC games of the past.
And here is our capule look at the UConn-BC matchup.
Will touch base with you from The Garden Thursday night.