Newtown, new starters and new Huskies

Just about to leave Gampel Pavilion after watching the Huskies practice Friday. They’re getting ready to face Washington Saturday night in Hartford.

A few notes:

— The Huskies visited Newtown Thursday, spending some time with kids there and helping that town heal just a bit.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie called it a “special” day.

“It’s just a responsibility we have as human beings to give back,” Ollie said. “This is our job. This is why God created us, to help other people in need. Hopefully on the other end somebody’s helping you.”

It was Ollie’s as well as Ryan Boatright’s birthday Thursday, too.

“It was a good experience,” Boatright said. “It was something to bring happiness to that town and put some smiles on those kids’ faces. I know they’ve been through a lot.”

— There might be a change in the starting lineup on Saturday.

Tyler Olander worked with the first team for much of practice Friday. He could switch back with C Enosch Wolf.

Ollie hinted that there would be a change in the starters though he was playfully coy about the specifics.

Ollie also had some fun when asked if Olander, who had a modest five points and six rebounds in his last game (after going scoreless twice in his previous three games), had turned a corner.

“I like the way you think,” Ollie laughed.

“Yes, he’s turned a corner. Let’s keep believing. Write it,” Ollie said. “I think he’s turned a corner.”

Olander said the benching has helped him re-focus his efforts.

“It definitely did. Right away in practice when coach put Enosch in there with the first five,” Olander said. “I knew I wasn’t producing, wasn’t really playing well, so that just kind of woke me up a little more. It made me say ‘I really have to pick it up for this team.’ ”

— It’s UConn’s final non-conference game of the season. The Huskies hit the road to begin Big East play Tuesday night at Marquette.

They obviously want to shore up a few issues, primarily rebounding.

“Just rebounding. I feel like we’re hitting in stride right now with everything except rebounding,” Boatright said. “Everybody’s playing well. Me and Shabazz is clicking; we’ve got a great thing going. Everything’s clicking now we just have to rebound. The more possessions we can get for ourselves the better.”

— UConn and Washington have played three times previously. Memorable NCAA games in 1998 (Sean McDonough voice: Hamilton…Hamilton!) and in 2006 (Rashad Anderson’s heroics) obviously highlights.

— Washington is 2-12 in the Eastern Time Zone during coach Lorenzo Romar’s tenure (since 2003).



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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