Monday, December 31, 2012

No Buzz for UConn-Marquette Tuesday, But a Homecoming for Phil Nolan

As you prepare to get on your New Year's Eve buzz, remember that there will be no Buzz to UConn's Big East opener tonight at Marquette (8 p.m., ESPNU).

Marquette coach Buzz Williams will be serving a school-imposed, one-game suspension for a recruiting violation the program self-reported over the summer, per the Journal-Sentinel's Michael Hunt. Williams wound up firing an assistant for the violation.

Williams, who can't have contact with his team either Monday or Tuesday, did have this to say about UConn: "I think they're extremely fast. Like, really, really, really fast. They pressure you defensively, put pressure on you offensively because of their speed ... We'll have our hands full, but we can't make it into a track meet because we'll lose. We have to handle their speed. We have to make them guard us inside."

No word yet on who'll coach the Golden Eagles. It's possible former DePaul head man Jerry Wainwright could take the reins.

*** Tuesday's game will be a homecoming for UConn freshman Phil Nolan, a Milwaukee native. It's a sort of homecoming, as well, for Kevin Ollie, who spent much of the 2002-03 season playing for the Bucks.

In fact, as I explain in this feature story I did on Nolan back in June, it was the friendship that Ollie had with Trevor Trimble, stepfather of one of Nolan's good basketball buddies, that helped lead Nolan to UConn.

Nolan told me over the summer that Marquette offered him a scholarship back after his sophomore year in high school, but ultimately the school was "a little too close to home."

But, he added: "There weren't a lot of people from the inner-city who were Marquette fans. It wasn't like Marquette was like UConn is."

*** Although Ollie only spent about half a season with the Bucks before being traded (with Ray Allen) to Seattle, he made plenty of friends in his relatively short time here (not surprisingly). That was evident when the bellman at the team's hotel, the Phister, greeted him with a hug as the team arrived.

In fact, Ollie said he lived at the hotel for about a month-and-a-half -- wisely choosing not to setttle down and buy a home in the area. Eleven different teams in 13 seasons will do that to you.

*** Ryan Boatright is a native of Chicago, which is about 90 minutes down the road from Milwaukee. He'll have plenty of friends and family at the game, too.

"When we travel," he said, "we travel in packs."

*** Tomorrow will be UConn's first true road game -- obviously the first ever for freshmen like Omar Calhoun and Nolan.

Added Ollie: “It’s all about growing. You grow in life. This is going to be another growing step for us. I want to see how they respond, of course, I want to see how I respond, our coaching staff response. It’s just going to be a good test … in one of the most hostile environments that we have in the Big East.”

*** Ollie likes the improvement he's been seeing lately from Nolan.

“I’m seeing the consistency now. He’s working, not only the two hours I have him in practice, but he’s grabbing Coach Miller and myself and asking the different nuances of the game and how can I get better. He’s willing to ask for feedback, and I think that’s a great thing for a young player. Instead of just getting in a shell and saying, ‘I’m not playing,’ he’s not doing that. He’s saying, ‘What do I need to do to get on the court, Coach?’ I keep telling him to rebound. That’s what he’s going to continue to do. I’ve seen him start to hit people first in the minutes that he’s got.”

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home