Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kevin Ollie Has What it Takes to Coach UConn

Here's my story from today's Register about Kevin Ollie, how he views this upcoming season and how he's viewed as Jim Calhoun's potential successor.

A lot of people want Ollie to replace Calhoun (whenever that may be, perhaps even this fall), but AD Warde Manuel has backed off on essentially naming Ollie as a "coach-in-waiting." Let me say that I don't blame Manuel at all for being hesitant about this. If he simply kowtowed to Calhoun's desire to name Ollie as his replacement, it appears as though he's being bullied by the Hall of Fame coach. Manuel is the boss, and he has every right to take a long look at what type of candidate pool might crop up once Calhoun decides to ride off into the sunset (hopefully not on a bike).

But ultimately, with his UConn and NBA pedigree, the respect he garners from virtually everyone in the basketball world and his already impressive ability to recruit, Ollie would seem to be the right hire. And if you're worried about his lack of head coaching experience, consider this: when Shaka Smart took over at VCU after Anthony Grant left to coach Alabama in 2009, he had zero head-coaching experience, as well. Less than two years later, Smart had the upstart Rams in the Final Four, and he's one of the most coveted young head coaches in the nation. And, in fact, the man some hope someday takes over in Storrs.

The thing is, hiring Ollie is almost a no-lose for Manuel. If Ollie fails, the perception is that Ollie wasn't necessarily his man and he can go out and find a Smart or another hot young coach to take over. And if Ollie succeeds, everybody at UConn wins.

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