Not much talk about basketball today. Nor should there have been. And it has nothing to do with Maryland-Eastern Shore being 0-9 and Monday night's game holding little challenge for UConn.
It had to do with the Newtown tragedy. Here's what Kevin Ollie had to say:
He added that the Huskies are planning to head down to Newtown at some point over the coming days to offer whatever help they can.
“Hopefully we can do something that can help just a little bit, bring some encouragement for the people down there, the families, make sure they know they’re in our hearts, on our minds," he said. "I don't know if it's going to help, but it's better than us just sitting here, doing nothing."
Ollie added: “That could have been any of our kids that got on that bus. I walk my daughter to the bus every day. Twenty families didn’t get their son or daughter back. It’s just tough … go home and love your family, because you never know.”
Tyler Olander and Shabaz Napier also talked about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
Finally, there was some basketball talk, as Ollie addressed the Catholic schools' departure from the Big East, and other issues:
“It’s what they feel is right for their schools. They have that right. We have a right to position ourselves the best possible way. I hate to see them go, but they made a path for themselves going forward. We’re trying to do what’s best for our university. We can’t blame them. We’ll miss them, but we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do. I know we’re working very, very hard, and I know our president and our AD will get us in the best situation.”
“We’re in a situation where we’re going to go forward. We’re going to do that. Some people might say it’s worse, but every time it’s worse, something good’s going to happen. That’s what I believe. I believe it happens for a reason. We’ve got to be ready for our next step. We can’t sit back and have a pity party. ACC, Big 10 call, or we stay where we’re at, if we have a pity party, I don’t care what conference we’re going to, we’ve got to continue to be able to recruit and sell this university.”
What's he telling prospective recruits?
“We’re a great university, our brand is still strong, we’re going to keep going forward. We’ve got a great president, we’ve got a great AD, we’ve got some great players and (a wry smile spreads across his face) we’ve got a terrific coaching staff.”
On what he tells recruits about how long he'll be at UConn:
“I’m going to be here for a lifetime. It’s not seven months, seven years, 27 years … I’m going to be here. That’s what I believe. Until somebody comes in my office and says, ‘The keys don’t work,’ I’m going to be in my office. Until I find that out, then I’m going to go out and find the next chapter in my life. But, I wholeheartedly believe I’m going to have a lot of chapters in my career at the University of Connecticut as head coach. It’s not all up to me, but it is up to me to have these guys ready to play and have our recruits believe that.”
And, on no overlooking 0-9 UMES Monday night:
“I want them to respect their opponents. By respecting their opponents, they come out with effort. You play hard on defense, you play hard from the start, and you go home. I want them to respect every opponent we have.”