Monday, January 7, 2013

All Apologies: UConn Scuffles in Practice, Big East Says Sorry to Kevin Ollie, Huskies Hope for 'Layup City'

UConn held a morning practice today at Gampel in preparation for Tuesday night's home game vs. much-improved DePaul, which is fresh off a nice win at Providence Saturday night and is 4-0 on the road this season.

We'll get to the Blue Demons and old (almost) friend Cleveland Melvin in a bit. But first, a couple of interesting tidbits.

The other day in practice, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels got in a little scuffle during a box-out drill.

"We were just grabbing each other, one person got mad and it went from there," said Boatright.

Added Daniels: “We’re just out there having fun and competing, trying to make each other better.”

This is not a big deal, folks -- the two are great friends and, in fact, roommates. In fact, it might be a good thing for the team.

“I imagine they’re tired of hitting each other," Kevin Ollie said. "Nobody was going to fight, but it was good to see it … Being around each other for a week, you get testy a little bit. You don’t have classes, you’re living with each other, it’s like you’re around each other all the time. They love each other, we’ve been working hard, we’ve been having some outstanding practices. Today was off-the-charts … I really like their focus.”

Added Daniels: “Me and Boat are best friends. We came (to UConn) at the same time and have always been roommates. It’s all love. We were just on the court, trying to compete.”

*** Also, Ollie noted that both Big East commissioner Mike Aresco and head of officials Art Hyland called to apologize for the snafu in Tuesday's game, where the refs admitted the goaltend of Shabazz Napier's layup attempt at the start of overtime should have counted for two points for UConn.

“It’s overwith," Ollie said. "Satisfied or not, it doesn’t make a difference. I talked to the commissioner, the head of officials, they both apologized. I accept their apology. We move on, things happen. Hopefully, we learn from it, our guys learn from every situation. But like I’ve said before, the past doesn’t equal the future unless you live in it. We’re not going to live in that, we’re going to move on.”

*** As for DePaul, it's 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big East. The Demons lost a tough, one-point game at home to Seton Hall last week before beating the Friars at The Dunk.

“They really should be 2-0," said Boatright. "I feel like they’re a better team than last year. We’ve got to compete and don’t take them lightly.”

The Demons are led, of course, by Melvin, who averages 16.7 per game and scored 23 vs. PC. Melvin committed to UConn in the fall of 2009, only to decommit the following spring.

"Melvin's been doing what he does -- just getting buckets, getting buckets," said Ollie. "He's been an outstanding player in the Big East since he got here."

Daniels figures to find himself guarding Melvin quite a bit tomorrow night.

“I heard he’s pretty strong," Daniels said. "Obviously, every guy I play in the Big East is going to be way stronger than me.”

Brandon Young also averages over 16 per game for the Demons, who love to press and forced 23 Friar turnovers on Saturday.

That's all well and good with Boatright.

“When I see a press, my eyes light up," the guard sayd. "I call it ‘Layup City.’ As long as we do our job and break the press, we should be alright.”

*** Ollie and Geno Auriemma were filmed for a public service announcement regarding the Newtown tragedy after practice.

*** Looked like Tyler Olander was working with the starting five today.

*** Despite scoring a career high-matching 29 points vs. Marquette, Napier didn't even earn Big East honor roll recognition this week. Odd.

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