Crimson coming to town


Kevin Ollie talks to reporters Thursday at Gampel Pavilion. If you look carefully behind Ollie’s right shoulder you’ll see a picture of Doron Sheffer embracing him on the court. (Neill Ostrout photo)

THE HUSKIES ARE in the middle of practice right now (Thursday evening) but we’ve already had a chance to talk to them about Friday’s game against Harvard.

A few items:

— THERE MAY BE a change in the starting lineup against the Crimson. Could it be what one astute observant annoying writer suggested in today’s JI?

We’ll see.

Head coach Kevin Ollie said there might be a change, but more because of F DeAndre Daniels’ back injury than anything else.

“There might be one lineup change. I’ll see after practice,” Ollie said before the Huskies took the floor at Gampel Pavilion. “We have to see how DeAndre’s back is responding.”

Daniels tweaked his back the other night at the Garden.

“Yeah, I couldn’t play as hard, move as fast or go 100 percent,” Daniels said.

Daniels said he thought he would be able to play Friday against Harvard.

“It flares up on me sometimes but I’ve been treating it every day,” Daniels said.

— THE OBVIOUS CHOICE for a new starter would be Enosch Wolf. The junior center has played very well lately, including his 12-and-9 performance against N.C. State Tuesday.

“He’s had some glimpses, the Wake Forest game, a couple other games, Michigan State,” Ollie said. “But I want it more on a consistent basis.”

“I’m not asking for 12 (points) and nine (rebounds) every night. That’s asking a lot,” Ollie added. “But we see he’s capable of doing it.”

The new offense UConn is running now may have helped Wolf’s development.

“He always knew how to play,” Ollie said. “And this system, where he’s at the high post, gives him a little more free range to show his talents _ his passing talents, getting out to where he can shoot his jumper.”

— TH OTHER INJURY UConn is still dealing with is R.J. Evans’ sternoclavicular issue.

“When I woke up that morning I was really sore,” Evans said of Wednesday, the morning after the game. “I expected it. The doctors told me I would. It’s not fully healed yet. There’s some pains here and there.”

He expects to play against Harvard, too.

And Evans is itching for a win against the Crimson. A graduate student who transferred from Holy Cross, Evans was 0-4 against Harvard during his “first” college basketball career.

— HARVARD IS PROBABLY not as good a team as it was last year when it made the NCAA field. Losing Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry to the academic scandal that rocked the school in the offseason has hurt coach Tommy Amaker’s bunch but not a ton.

“Harvard’s not a bad team. They’re a great team with a great coach,” Shabazz Napier said. “And they’ve got a great little freshman point guard (Siyani Chambers) that I watched play for a while.”

Napier, a Boston native, was asked if Harvard is more of a “name” program than it used to be because of Amaker’s success and Jeremy Lin’s stardom.

“I mean, they made more of a name during the summer with that little scandal they did,” Napier said with smile. “But basketball-wise they’ve always been a good team.”

— OLLIE HAS SOME key areas he’d like to see improve in the near future.

“Our assist-to-turnover ratio is 1-1, that’s not going to get it done in the Big East and we all know that,” Ollie said. “Shooting 42 percent is not going to get it done in the Big East. We have to raise that up, we have to get better shots, we have to rebound better.”

For the record, the new coach is not like the old coach. Ollie’s numbers are pretty much right on. UConn is shooting 42.5 percent this season and has 91 assists to 90 turnovers.

— OLLIE ALSO WANTS the rebounding to improve, obviously. He was asked if there’s an undersized player who rebounded well he’s familiar with that he could use as an example for his team to emulate.

“There’s one right here, our director of basketball operations,” Ollie said of former Husky Kevin Freeman. “I don’t have go too far. I don’t have to go in the memory bank. I say ‘Look at Kevin.’ He’s not the biggest guy but he was fearless, he was relentless.”

Is Ollie using any new drills to improve rebounding.

“No, I just do the same things we’ve been doing. It’s just yelling a little bit more,” Ollie said.



About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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