Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rick Pitino: Kevin Ollie 'About as Perfect a Choice for Head Coach as Any School Could Have'

With a tough game against a very good Notre Dame (maybe the second-best team in the Big East) on the road coming up Saturday, UConn's thoughts are obviously on the Irish.

But with No. 3 Louisville coming to town two days later on Monday for one of the biggest games of the year in Hartford, beat writers have to be looking ahead a little more than coaches do (or at least say they do).

With that in mind, I asked Rick Pitino on today's Big East coaches' conference call about what he thinks of the Huskies thus far and, particularly, the job that Kevin Ollie has done.

Pitino said he hasn't seen much of UConn since watching the Michigan State game on TV and won't start studying them until Saturday night, after the Cardinals' bout with South Florida. But he had this to say:

"I knew this was going to happen with Kevin Ollie. "He tried out with us (presumably with the Celtics in the NBA). Kevin Ollie is about as perfect a choice for head coach as any school could have. He's the perfect match: extremely bright, the players are going to love playing for him, a fierce competitor. It's a tremendous marriage."

Pitino added that UConn appears to be an "outstanding ballclub, great backcourt play," and that playing Monday night in Hartford after Saturday's game at the KFC Yum! Center is no big deal.

"I spent eight years in the pros, playing four games in five nights," he said. "None of this affects me in any way."

UConn, of course, plays at Notre Dame Saturday, hosts Louisville Monday, then travels to Pittsburgh next Saturday in a heck of a gauntlet.

"The schedule-makers didn’t do us any favors," Ollie said. "We don’t look at it as obstacles, we look at it as opportunities, to show America what we’re made of."

He was also asked if his new contract extension is helping on the recruiting trail.

"It’s helping out. It takes a question off the table that a lot of parents, players have – is the coach going to be there? Now, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, I will be here."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any updates on practice facility?

January 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM 

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