Monday, November 25, 2013

Balancing Depth, Egos May be Toughest Part of Kevin Ollie's Job

Kevin Ollie believes all 12 scholarship players on his team can give significant contributions on any given night. Such depth is a blessing -- but also a bit of a curse. Maybe curse is the wrong word to use, but it becomes tricky to dole out minutes to everyone, keep everybody happy. Ollie's job is not only coach, but to a degree, also psychologist.

Sometimes, established players may see their roles diminish in certain games, depending on the opponent or how the game is going.

Witness Friday night against Indiana, when Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun sat out the final two minutes or so of the key, close game. Lasan Kromah stayed in to guard Indiana star Yogi Ferrell, and Niels Giffey found himself out on the floor over the final two minutes, as well.

"I just thought Lasan made Yogi’s life a little difficult with his length," Ollie said on Monday. "He was playing tremendously on the pick-and-rolls, and Niels gave us another rebounder in there. Some games, it’s going to happen that way, some games it’s not. You’re going to have to accept it as a basketball player."

Asked Shabazz Napier if he felt his teammates understood that -- that there will be some games where others are asked to step up in key spots.

“I hope so," Napier said. "That’s one of the things that guys have to know. We can’t have a lot of egos. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing on the court … we’ve got more depth now. Lasan played tremendous defense on Yogi, so he had to get back in the game. I hope everyone knows that. I’m not gonna score a lot. There may be a game where I’m on the bench, so you’ve got to put your egos aside and realize it’s more important for us to win games.”

Asked again if he felt his team grasped that concept, Napier responded: “I hope so, I don’t know. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem that way. Hopefully, they understand that for now on.”

Added Ollie: "Everybody’s got to step up and play better. If you expect minutes at the end of the game, you’ve got to produce during the game. They understand that … it is a product of the depth we have on our bench. We have a very versatile team – we can play big, we can stay small. I thought that lineup (Friday night) gave them trouble, because every player on the court besides ‘Bazz had some length. And ‘Bazz was doing just an exceptional job on the offensive end. I couldn’t take him out of the game.”

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