Bearcats headed to Hartford

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UConn’s Phillip Nolan, left, plays a little 1-on-1 with teammate Rodney Purvis after practice Friday in Gampel Pavilion.

A few words from the Huskies as they prep for Saturday’s game against Cincinnati in Hartford:

— IT’S A PIPE dream that UConn (22-6, 10-5) will catch Cincinnati (24-4, 13-2) and Louisville in the AAC standings but the Huskies would like to get a win against one of the conference’s “big boys.”

UConn is 0-4 against the top three teams in the standings: 0-1 against Cincinnati, 0-1 against Louisville and 0-2 against SMU.

“We know this game is going to come down to rebounding and who wants it the most,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Hopefully we come out on top in those categories.”

For the most part, Ollie is trying to downplay the importance of this game alone.

“It’s just another game. It would be a big-time win for us but just like USF was a big-time win for us,” Ollie said. “I can’t measure it. I don’t want my team to measure it. It’s just another win, another opportunity we can show that we’re a better team.”

— IF YOU’RE INTERESTED, UConn has launched an All-American page touting Shabazz Napier.

— THE HUSKIES LOST the first meeting between the teams 63-58 on Feb. 6 in Cincinnati.

— SOME TEAMS MAY be thinking too much about the upcoming NCAA Tournament but Ollie says his group isn’t among them.

“Not with these guys. I’m not seeing it,” Ollie said. “We need to win and we’ve got our own struggles to deal with. We’re not worrying about the NCAA Tournament.

“I think it really helped those guys not going to the tournament last year. They just kept playing,” Ollie said. “I think you could have looked at it both ways. We could have stopped and said ‘We’re not going to the tournament.’ And last year we didn’t do that. It’s just vice versa now. They’re just playing basketball. That’s why I love this group.”

— OLLIE WAS ESPECIALLY pleased with the way Ryan Boatright handled himself Wednesday night.

“Boatright sat out the second half, the first five minutes. You know, a younger Boatright would have been pouting and the whole world would have been coming to an end,” Ollie said. “That kid took it…came in an played. And in that stretch, the 18-0 run, he had 11 points. It wasn’t all Shabazz.”

— OLLIE HAD A little fun talking about Rodney Purvis, the guard who is sitting out this season after transferring from N.C. State. Purvis is nearly fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, too.

“He’s like a Ferrari in the garage that I can’t drive,” Ollie said. “It’s killing me. But he’s looking good. He’s dunking and all that stuff. He’s not doing the full contact because we don’t want him doing that. But he’s doing everything else, shooting drills, and he’s explosive as all I-don’t-know-what.”

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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