Napier, Boatright and Scott the bus driver

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UConn coach Kevin Ollie talks with the reporters after Sunday’s win over Seton Hall.

A few reactions from the particulars following UConn’s 78-67 win over Seton Hall Sunday:

— IT WAS QUITE a ride for the Huskies to get here Saturday night. They left Storrs around 7 p.m. and didn’t get into their hotel until after midnight.

But coach Kevin Ollie wrote on the board before the game “No excuses.”

Apparently the message got through.

“We had a lot of opportunities to make excuses today: late travel, the storm,” Ollie said. “I told them we can’t control that but we can control our effort and our energy. I thought they did a remarkable job doing that.”

Shabazz Napier (22 points) said he got to sleep about 1:30 a.m.

“Things happen for a reason. We were stuck and it took us a while to get to New Jersey and to the hotel,” Napier said. “This team is relentless. No matter what’s going on, we’re going to try our best when we get on the court.”

— ALTHOUGH IT WAS long, the ride through the snow wasn’t too painful for the Huskies.

“Extremely long. I’ve never been on a bus that long. It was crazy,” Ryan Boatright said. “But we had some movies. We were doing a little homework and stuff like that.”

The players didn’t even mind that much when the bus got stuck in the snow after stopping to pick up the coaches at a Hartford-area hotel. They had been through this before. After the Washington game in Hartford, their bus got stuck driving them back to campus and the players got out to push.

That effort in late December was more successful than this one, however.

“We got off the bus and pushed the bus and it went. We were ecstatic,” Napier said of the Washington effort. “This time it didn’t deliver. We all looked at each other like ‘We need to get in the weight room.’ ”

Another bus had to come and pick up the Huskies.

Ollie gave credit to their driver.

“Scott from Peter Pan was great,” Ollie said. “Scott is one of the remarkable bus drivers I’ve ever been around.”

“Scott from Peter Pan” is apparently Scott Kirkpatrick.

“He got us here in a reasonable hour,” Ollie said.

— THE ALLEY-OOP from Napier to Boatright late in the game was a highlight for the Huskies.

Ollie appeared to give it the old Lou Brown (Major League) look. You know, “Nice play. Don’t ever (bleeping) do it again!”

But the coach said after he was fine with it.

“I wouldn’t have done it but let the kids have fun. They deserve it,” Ollie said. “They went through a storm, got here at 12 o’clock. I got them up early to eat breakfast.”

“I’m fine with it as long as it goes in,” Ollie said.

Boatright figured as much.

“He don’t care what we do as long as we complete the play,” Boatright said. “Now if I had missed, it would have been another story.”

— THERE WAS A good amount of discussion about how Napier has changed this season. We’ve heard some of it before but in light of his recent mini-suspension (not starting vs. St. John’s), there was more.

“I talk less,” Napier said when asked about it. “Sometimes I would talk too much and that would get me in trouble, put me and my teammates in the wrong direction. I just try to lead by actions.”

Ollie brought up the subject first, praising his point guard.

“He’s evolving as a person. It’s nothing major but he’s understanding his leadership, understanding how to talk to his team,” Ollie said. “He has to pat them on the butt when they need it and he has to kick them sometimes.”

Ollie added: “Without him, I don’t know where we’d be at.”

As for the “violation of team rules” that saw him miss five minutes on Wednesday, Napier took the blame without getting specific.

“It was just bad communication, to be honest, and I feel like I let the team down,” Napier said. “I told coach ‘I’m sorry for that. It was bad communication on my part.’ ”

Ollie gave him credit for standing up given the circumstances.

“I sat him out the first five minutes and he took it as man and he was better,” Ollie said.

Neill

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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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