Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kevin Ollie: Shabazz Should Be 'Full-Blast' on Sunday for UConn

Kevin Ollie was on the Big East coaches conference call this morning, and here's some of what he had to say about Shabazz Napier and the Huskies' game vs. Rutgers on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Hartford:

"(Shabazz) definitely needed a coule of days. He wasn't going out and playing the type of basketball we needed him to play. He told me he could go (against Pittsburgh), and that was it. I didn't want to hear about his shoulder, I just wanted him to perform."

"He hasn't been able to do full-contact (drills) yet. When we come back (to practice on Friday), I think he'll be full-blast, the Shabazz of old -- getting to the rim, making 3-point shots, being more aggressive and attacking on offense."

(on Rutgers)

"They're a tough team. They have some outstanding guards, a three-guard lineup, kind of like how we start. And they've got some good bigs down there. We're going to have our work cut out for us, like in every Big East matchup. Hopefully, our team comes out on top and gets back to its winning ways."

The Scarlet Knights, who ended a 10-game losing streak against UConn with a 67-60 win last January that led to a rather grumpy Jim Calhoun at practice the following morning, are 12-6 overall and 3-4 in the Big East. They are led by the guard tandem of Eli Carter and Myles Mack, who combine to average 28.8 of the team's 69.4 points per game (though Carter is coming off an ugly, 1-for-14 night on Wednesday in a loss to St. John's).

"They're playing exceptionally hard," said Ollie. "Carter is shooting from anywhere, Mack is right there with him. They're shooting three steps from halfcourt, just letting it go ... they're guard-heavy, but they also have some explosive players down low. And they always have a complicated, match-up zone. We're going to have to figure it out ... gonna have to move the basketball a little better than what we've been doing."

Rutgers coach Mike Rice noted his team missed 17 layups and 12 free throws against St. John's. He said he wasn't dismayed by Carter's shot selection, however -- though didn't seem to rule out possibly bringing him in off the bench in the future.

As for UConn: "Big challenge ahead, containing and defending their guards. I love what Coach Ollie's doing with his schemes, his X's and O's. They've got great ball movement, their spacing the floor is excellent. I look for a big challenge at UConn on Sunday."

Rice also had this to say when asked how tough it must be to coach a team (like UConn) that has no postseason to look forward to.

“I think it would be difficult, especially with everything that Coach Calhoun built, what their standards are. To be honest with you, you don’t see it on film. Coach Ollie’s done a tremendous job, how hard they’re playing. They've got a little depleted roster in terms of numbers, etc. But you can’t tell by watching them on film. They’re playing really hard, with passion. I imagine it’s difficult, I’ve never had to do something like that. I give them all the credit in the world, because they’re playing real, real hard.”

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