Took in my first UConn practice of the season today (I
wasn’t able to get to the Huskies’ first open practice a couple of weeks ago).
The thing that stuck out the most to me in the 45 minutes
we were able to watch practice was how vocal and intense the team was at times,
particularly during rebounding/box-out drills. Shabazz Napier started it off by
grabbing a pair of boards during the two-on-two drill and riding the two big
guys – Amida Brimah and DeAndre Daniels – for getting outrebounded. All in all,
the whole team was enthusiastic during the drill, which is a good sign, as
boardwork (or lack thereof) was a huge issue last season for the Huskies.
“It’s definitely a point of emphasis, to make sure we do
better,” said Kevin Ollie. “I know we have a team that’s very athletic, very
versatile. If we get out on the fast break, we can do a lot of damage. First
thing with defensive rebounding is getting back in transition, building a wall
and then boxing out. And hitting first. I don’t think we did a lot of that last
year. They know, if they rebound, they’ll play. I’ve put that nugget out there,
we’ll just see who grabs it. Whoever grabs it will be playing.”
Tyler Olander understands.
“I think everybody, that’s definitely been an emphasis in
practice,” he said. “We do three or four box-out drills every day. If we mess
up on those, we’re on the line running. If we give up offensive rebounds in
drills, we’re on the line running.”
“I’m more happy with Tyler because I’m checking every
appointment that he has, every class that he has,” said Ollie. “I could care less
about the energy here, if he’s not showing the energy off the court then he’s
got a problem with me. I told him this is his last time. He’s stepping up to
the plate and changing his ways. It starts with him. I love that about him.
Hopefully, he can just continue to create something special for his life. His
time here at UConn is expiring. There’s a date on that. Hopefully, he can use
this time to be better as a young man, and also have a great senior season.
That’s just going to make us a better team. But I need everybody.”
Olander addressed his Sept. 7 arrest and subsequent
suspension from the team that was lifted on Oct. 3.
“Probably one of the first things I thought about was, ‘This
is going to be all over ESPN,’” he said. “That’s probably something that stuck
with me: everybody’s going to know.”
Being away from the team for about a month hurt him, as
“It was pretty difficult. That’s all I’ve done for the
past four years. To be taken away, it was an adjustment. But it did its purpose.
I realized what I had to do and that the things I had done were selfish. And
that if I really wanted to be a part of this, which I do, that I need to change
*** It appears there will be no dunk or 3-point contest
at First Night festivities next Friday. The intra-gender scrimmage, featuring
teams comprised by members of both the men’s and women’s teams, will have to
*** As it stands now, Napier, Daniels and Ryan Boatright
are slated to accompany Ollie to AAC Media Day on Wednesday in Memphis.
*** Stanley Robinson was helping out at practice today.
Always great to see “Sticks.”
*** Some obligatory practice facility video footage. It's worth noting that, immediately after UConn's practice ended, the women's volleyball team staff started setting up equipment for its 7 p.m. match with Rutgers. It only served to reinforce the notion of how badly the basketball team needs its own practice facility.
Labels: Amida Brimah, DeAndre Daniels, Kevin Ollie, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Stanley Robinson, Tyler Olander