Kevin Ollie: "We're Playing for Each Other and This Great University"
Talk about a positive, uplifting guy. It’s no wonder that virtually everyone associated with the UConn men’s basketball program would love to see him as the next Huskies’ coach. Recruits love him (and UConn just got a pretty good pair in Kentan Facey and Terrence Samuel), current players and coaches love him and, of course, there’s no doubt that Jim Calhoun wants him as his successor. But that’s for another day.
As for today, Ollie is happy with the state of the program. He said Jim Calhoun has been back in the office several times, doing physical therapy with trainer James Doran, working out in the pool and weight room and “looking good.” He even went up to a Red Sox game recently (how that would make a noted Sox fan feel good, I have no idea.)
Ollie is very happy with the way UConn players have progressed over the summer, both in the gym and academically. He particularly points out Tyler Olander, who has made a major commitment in the weight room before a recent right ankle sprain put him in a walking boot.
“Every time you turn your ankle, you damage your ligaments,” Ollie noted. “It just takes time to heal back. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve had in my three years here. He’s worked tremendously hard to change his body, get in better shape. It’s unfortunate this happened, but everything happens for a reason. I’m glad it’s happening now and not Nov. 9 when we’re playing Michigan State. Hopefully, he can respond to it and his ankle can respond to it and he can get back on the court, because we really need his leadership.”
There is one question that Ollie, Calhoun, the players and virtually everyone around the program will be asked incessantly over the next few months (and, in many cases, have already been asked numerous times): “With no postseason tournament eligibility this season, what are the Huskies playing for?”
As I asked Ollie the question, his brow furrowed and an inquisitive look spread across his face, as if the answer was abundantly obvious.
As for tangible goals, certainly the Big East regular-season title is something the Huskies can aim for.
You listen to Kevin Ollie speak, and you start to realize that this could be a fun year to watch this team. It could really say something about their character, their will to win, along with their on-court abilities.
And it certainly makes you believe that Ollie is head coaching material, too. No question about it.