STORRS – Here are some notes and quotes from UConn’s post-practice interview opportunities Friday. Looks again like everyone is healthy going in.
And, just passing it along, there are tickets available for UConn-Cincinnati, which statrs at noon at XL. …
Kevin Ollie was pretty hoarse, but he gave us a few minutes. Here are some of his thoughts:
“Experience is key. We’ve got some veteran guys and that experience plays a part, but at the end of the day this game is going to come down to rebounding and who wants it most.
You know we’re going to have droughts scoring, and they’re going to have droughts. Who can sustain it. It’s not going to be a 90-point game, we know that. During those droughts, can you stop the other team? Can you rebound? Hopefully we can stay solid. Last game we just couldn’t get over that hump.
On a littlle playing zone
“Just something to get them out of rhythm. I know they didn’t scout it. Just give the opponent something to scout again.
“… When you get in conference play, everybody knows what you’re running, you’re going to have to go to third and fourth options. Seniors and juniors pretty much know your system, they’re not running around guessing. That’s a luxury we have with one of the best point guards in the nation, we got him. And he knows exactly what I want each and every play. I can draw a play up and he runs it perfectly, and if guys mess up he gets them in the right place.
Tyler [Olander] hadn’t played significant minutes since I don’t know when, but he played 21 minutes, set great screens. Niels [Giffey] is my rock, you how much I love him, how much unselfishness he’s got.
The importance of this game
We need to win. We’ve got our own struggles to deal with. We’re not worrying about the NCAA Tournament. We’re just playing. That might’ve helped them last year, they couldn’t go to the tournament and they just played. They’re just playing basketball, that’s why I love this group.
It would be a big time big time win for us, just like USF was a big-time win for us. I can’t measure it, I don’t want my team to measure it. It’s another opportunity to show we’re a better team.
Our crowds have been fantastic. This is the last time we’ll play at XL and they’ve been tremendous to us.
On Rodney Purvis recovery
Rodney [Purvis] is like having a Ferrari in the garage that I can’t drive. It’s killing me. He’s not doing full contact, we don’t want him doing that. But he’s in drills, explosive as I don’t know what.”
Any ‘emotional lift’ from last game:
The emotional lift [after the USF game] came from Shabazz and Terrence [Samuel] – and Boatright. … Boatright sat out the second half, the first five minutes, a younger Boatright would have been pouting, the whole world would’ve been coming to an end. That kid took it, knew it wasn’t out of anything he was doing [wrong] and he came in and in that 18-0 stretch he scored [nine] points.”
The maturity of the team is something I witnessed in that game and that’s why I felt so good. A lot of guys contributed, it was an ugly first half, coming off the SMU game which was ugly, but those guys kept fighting. We took a step. I’m not saying it’s going to contribute to our winning every game but we took a step as a team. And that’s what I was proud of.
Shabazz Napier made the Naismith list of 10 semifinalists, as did Sean Kilpatrick. … Cincy coach Mick Cronin said Saturday, “knowing [Napier], he’s going to be looking for redemption against us. We’re going to have to do an even better job.”
For me, UConn, which is 0-4 against Cincy, Louisville and SMU, really needs this one to get some mojo going into the postseason. Here’s a capsule look at the matchup.
Here is our main advance for the Saturday Courant.