Tom Moore, Scott Burrell, Kevin Ollie, Others Talk UConn-Quinnipiac Matchup
The Huskies haven't lost to an in-state foe since. That's 67-0: 19-0 vs. Fairfield, 13-0 vs. Hartford, 12-0 vs. Yale, 9-0 vs. both CCSU and Quinnipiac and 5-0 vs. Sacred Heart.
UConn is also 15-0 against former Calhoun assistants.
So there's got to be some pressure on the Huskies to avoid an upset by upstart Quinnipiac in the Paradise Jam on Sunday night, right? Wouldn't want to end that impressive streak in Ollie's fourth game at the helm, right?
Meh, not really.
"I wouldn’t necessarily call it pressure," said Ryan Boatright. "We're not gonna take them lightly. We tell each other we’re not going to let them make a name off us.”
Here's what some of the other key figures are saying about the game, which will be televised on the CBS Sports Network Sunday at 9 p.m.:
“It’s a great opportunity for a team like Quinnipiac to be playing a team as storied as UConn, both nationally and in-state. It has huge implications for our alumni and our students and fans. Years and years of living in Connecticut, hearing all about UCOnn, it’s nothing but respect and good feelings towards them.”
“As our program grows, we’ve tried to treat this trip as a chance to sort of grow our national name a little bit. Playing on national TV against a team like that will help that. Now, the task is on us to play well.”
“Their two guards really pressure the ball well. I thought they were terrific (Friday) rolling off screens. Kevin has them working really hard defensively, they have great resilience, and they’re running some really good stuff offensively, too. They looked organized, well-coached, committed.”
“We’re excited to play them. Our guys are really happy and excited to play them. We’re really looking forward to it.”
(on the only other time Moore has faced UConn while at Quinnipiac, an 82-49 loss on Dec. 16, 2007)
“It was a real awkward feeling on my part, just playing Coach Calhoun and all the kids I had recruited and stuff. We both felt more comfortable not continuing the series at that point. Maybe someday in the future it’ll continue, I’m not sure.”
(on Quinnipiac's overtime win over Iona on Friday night)
“They just played hard, stayed within their sets.Their bigs are really relentless on the backboards, Ike (Azotam) came out and had another big game with 10 rebounds, their guards were effective, they had five guys in double figures. It’s a good team we’re facing (Sunday) night.”
“I just want to coach the game, not worrying about who’s on the other side. We’ve got to come out with the identity we’re trying to establish, play hard. I don’t care who’s on the other side.”
“There’s distractions all over the place – contract, this, that. I can’t control that. I can’t control what Quinnpiac is doing in their practice. I can’t control Scott, I can’tcontrol Coach Moore. I know their team is going to be prepared and ready to play. If they’ve got extra motivation, that’s fine. I’ve got motivation for this team to compete and succeed at the highest level. That’s my motivation every day I wake up.”
R.J. EVANS, who was recruited by Moore while at Norwich Free Acadmey and made an unofficial trip to Quinnipiac.
"(Coach Moore) has done a great job with that program. They’ve competed in the NEC the past couple of years, and I definitely respect them as an opponent.”
"It’s exciting. It’ll be fun, especially for our guys. For me, personally, I don’t think it’s any different … it’s a challenge for us as a staff and for our guys. They’re going to try to play against a Big East, high-level team that we don’t play too often.”
(on his friendship with Ollie)
“(It's a) good friendship. We played two years together, play golf together in the summer. We have a good relationship. We’re just going to compete against each other as coaches tomorrow. It’s different.”
(incidentally, Burrell says Ollie is much improved as a golfer and has lowered his handicap from the 20's to about a 9. Burrell, however, says he's around a 4).
IKE AZOTAM, Quinnipiac's star forward, who teamed with Shabazz Napier on the Metro Boston AAU team and remains a good friend with the UConn guard:
"It’s gonna be challenge, but it’s gonna be fun. Coach Moore used to coach there, it’s going to be nice to play them.”
“Shabazz and Boatright are pretty good with the ball in their hands. We’re going to attack them, they’re going to attack us. We’ve just got to play strong.”
“I think our frontcourt can play with them. We’ve just got to be aggressive, make free throws, rebound and defend.”