Huskies Bull-ish about rebounding from loss

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UConn coach Kevin Ollie chats with reporters Tuesday night in Tampa.

Just left the UConn team hotel after a brief chat with the Huskies. UConn is in Tampa for Wednesday’s game against South Florida (7 p.m., CBS-SN).

Here are a few notes and quotes from the particulars:

— THE HUSKIES ARE coming off a 64-55 loss to SMU Sunday in Storrs, a game in which they made just 29.6 percent of their shots.

The loss snapped a four-game win streak for UConn (21-6, 9-5 American Athletic Conference).

USF (12-15, 3-11) has lost four straight games but hasn’t played in over a week. USF forward Victory Rudd had 27 points and 10 rebounds in his team’s last game, am 80-54 loss at Louisville.

UConn wants to finish the regular season with a flourish.

“It comes on the defensive end. We’re not playing good defense,” Shabazz Napier said. “We need to step it up and I’m going to do a much better job of leading my teammates on defense. I’ve been slacking on that a little. Defensively I’m going to do what I have to do in order to get my teammates going.”

— THE HUSKIES HAVE just four games left in the regular season.

Napier sounds like he plans to step it up.

“It starts with me. I have to make sure I prove to them that I’m going to work hard,” Napier said. “There’s only four regular season games left. I have to do my best and let guys understand that this is definitely where it counts.”

UConn coach Kevin Ollie has some specific goals.

“I want to shoot better. The last three games we’ve been shooting, I think it’s like 38 percent,” Ollie said. “And we’ve been given up the last three or four games 45 percent field goal shooting. Our numbers are still good but we don’t want to have that trend going into the postseason.”

— APPARENTLY THERE ARE no injuries of note for the Huskies.

“Yeah, everybody practiced,” Ollie said. “Everybody seems like they’re ready to go.”

But Napier did hurt his pinky finger and his back against SMU. Well, sort of.

The finger?

“It was just swollen, sprained,” Napier said.

And his back is fine, too, Napier says.

“It happens. The court was definitely slippery. But it’s part of the game,” Napier said.

— IN A GAME that threatened to set UConn opponent futility records, UConn won the first meeting between the teams 83-40 on Feb. 12 in Hartford. The Bulls made just 12 field goals in the game.

Ollie doesn’t expect the same.

“Oh yeah. I don’t imagine it’s going to be 83-40,” Ollie said. “They’re better now and that was a while ago.”

But the Huskies were beaten in two of their last three trips here including the penultimate game of last season, a 65-51 loss that Napier missed because of an injury.

— NAPIER HAS 599 assists and will become just the fourth Husky to reach the 600 mark tonight (Kevin Ollie, Tate George, Taliek Brown).

— OLLIE TALKED A bit about the struggles guard Omar Calhoun has experienced this season.

“I think he’s holding up great. I speak to Omar a lot and we talk about different things,” Ollie said. “For me, just watching him as a coach and being in his situation before, being hurt and not playing well _ not playing at all in my stops _ I know it wears down on a person mentally.

“But he’s been showing up every day in practice. … He hasn’t given me any problems. He shows up in practice, he goes hard, he gives me full effort.”

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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