STORRS – The Huskies, who last played on Dec. 7, got back to work on Sunday and tried to focus on basketball, but the tragedy of Newtown was on everyone’s mind.
“It hit home,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “We want them to know they’re in our hearts and on our minds.”
Ollie said, at some point, when he would like to take the Huskies to Newtown to offer support.
“I don’t know if we can help,” he said. “But it’s better than being here doing nothing.”
The men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams will observe a moment of silence before games over the next few weeks, and a commemorative patch is being readied, hopefully for the UConn men’s game against Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday night.
When Shabazz Napier heard what happened, he could think only of his 2 ½-year-old niece, who comes to every one of his games.
“I called my sister and said I wanted to talk to her,” he said. “There are kids five and six years old and they won’t get to live their lives. One of those kids might have gone on to find a cure for cancer, or something like that.”
Napier was especially touched by the story that he saw of Emily Parker on TV.
“I still can’t believe it happened,” he said. “It makes you cherish what you have.”
“It hit home in a lot of ways,” said Tyler Olander, who is from Mansfield. “You just don’t understand what happened, the events that occurred.”
After 9/11, New Yorkers got caught up in the play of the Mets and Yankees. Perhaps now, the State of Connecticut can turn to its teams for some respite from the tragedy.
“We’re going to try,” Napier said. “We want to put joy and happiness in the eyes as many people as we can. I just want to do the best I can do, go out and play with the energy that I can.”
On the basketball front, UConn will be playing Maryland-Eastern Shore, which is 0-9.
“I want us to respect our opponents,” Ollie said. “And you do that by going out with all the energy you can. … We’ve been having let-downs, getting up on teams and then letting them back in the games.”
Ollie on the departure of the seven schools from the Big East:
“I hate to see them go – we’re going to miss them. They have that right, and we have the right to put our university in the best position. I know our president (Susan Herbst) and our AD [Warde Manuel] are working feverishly to put us in the best position.”
Jarrod Davis and Kevin Myers, both freshmen, have been added to the M-ES roster. It’s not determined whether they will be declared eligible to play in this game. … UConn players completed their final exams. Ollie is optimistic that all went well, but he is awaiting the results.