A couple of notes and quotes from the UConn basketball team’s practice, which we were able to watch the final moments of Friday afternoon:
— FRESHMAN BIG MAN Kentan Facey’s situation isn’t any more clear, it seems.
The Jamaican native and Long Island high school graduate is still working with UConn’s compliance office and the NCAA to determine his eligibility.
There is a sense that he could lose a year of eligibility, perhaps this season. (essentially being forced to redshirt).
Coach Kevin Ollie said there’s nothing new on that front.
“No, nothing new. We’re just waiting for the NCAA to get back to us,” Ollie said.
— ANOTHER UCONN BIG, Tyler Olander, is, as you probably know, back working out with the team.
Ollie says Olander has been great since his return.
“I’m more happy with Tyler because I’m checking every appointment that he has, I’m checking every class that he has. I can really care less about the energy here (on the court),” Ollie said. “If he’s not showing energy off the court then he’s got a problem with me. I told him this is his last time and he’s stepping up to the plate. He’s changing his ways.”
Olander admitted it was tough being away from the team, in the offseason and the start of practice.
“It was pretty difficult. That’s all I’ve done for the past four years,” Olander said. “To be taken away, it was an adjustment. But it did its purpose. I realized what I had to do and that the things I had done were selfish. And that if I really wanted to be a part of this, which I do, that I need to change that.”
— AS EXPECTED, rebounding continues to be a major focus in practice.
Ollie has added a 2-on-2 box-out drill that seems pretty intense.
“That’s a new one. We usually do 1-on-1 but I think he’s pulling out all the tricks in terms of boxing out and rebounding,” Olander said.
Ryan Boatright says the Huskies have heard about how poor they did on the glass last year.
“He’s really emphasizing boxing out this year,” Boatright said. “We spend quite a bit of time during practice on rebounding. He pounds it into our head that we were 290th in the whole NCAA last year. He refuses to be that low again.”
— OLLIE SAYS THE first few practices have gone pretty well.
“We still have to get better,” Ollie said. “We have to be the best conditioning team in America.”
“They have to understand they make their roles. I don’t make roles for them,” Ollie added. “They have to find their niche on this team and find their way into the rotation.”
— OLLIE SAID THE freshmen on the team have played fairly well.
“Kentan had a rough first practice then he bounced back,” Ollie said of Facey.
He said Terrence Samuel has been a bit of a surprise.
“I’m not saying he’s Marcus Williams or anything like that but just the instinct, it reminds me of Marcus a little bit, where he can just make people better.”
Center Amida Brimah is apparently the team’s junkyard dog. Well, he’s at least guarding the yard.
“Amida is our big fella that we’re looking for who can come in and guard our yard. We want him to guard our yard, that’s our paint. We want him to block shots and be a presence down there,” Ollie said.
— IN CASE THERE was any doubt, UConn officials confirmed that there will be no dunk contest or 3-point contest associated with the First Night festivities next Friday. The multi-gender scrimmage could be fun, of course.
The teams, in case you missed them, are:
Team Geno (Auriemma): Omar Calhoun, Saniya Chong, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Bria Hartley, Pat Lenehan, Shabazz Napier, Phil Nolan, Briana Pulido, Terrence Samuel, Breanna Stewart, Kiah Stokes and Tor Watts.
Team Kevin (Ollie): is Brianna Banks, Ryan Boatright, Amida Brimah, Stefanie Dolson, Kentan Facey, Moriah Jefferson, Lasan Kromah, Tierney Lawlor, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Tyler Olander, Rodney Purvis, Leon Tolksdorf and Morgan Tuck.
I’m setting the line at Team Geno -11. I’ll take all the action (Kidding…Not really….maybe)