Sam Cassell Looks Forward to Son's Future at UConn, Fondly Recalls His Own Past vs. Huskies
Cassell's son, Sam, Jr., of course, is heading to UConn next year. Sam talked about how excited his son is to play for Kevin Ollie, with whom Cassell played while with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2002-03. He had a lot of nice things to say about Ollie, and also had fond memories of his only visit to Gampel Pavilion as a player: an 86-74 win over the Huskies on Feb. 6, 1993.
"We kicked UConn's (behind) up there in Storrs, CT!!!" recalled Cassell, jumping out of his chair. "It was so crazy. We had guys form Florida who had never been in snow. We get there, and there's 10 inches of snow up there. They were shocked at how much snow was on the ground. We didn't have coats, we went to school in Florida. We had sweatsuit jackets but it was freezing. So, of course, after the game, we stayed in the hotel."
UConn fans will forgive him, of course, has his son gets ready embark on his career as a Husky next season.
"Yeah, he's excited. It came down to Louisville and UConn, and he told me, 'Dad, this is the place for me.' I said, 'I think so, too.'"
Here's the story for the Register. And here's more of what Cassell had to say:
(on what made it the place for him)
"Kevin (Ollie) and how he allows his guards to play. My son can do a lot of things off the dribble. He can shoot off the dribble, he's a pretty good shooter. Kevin told him, 'Work hard on the defensive end and you can play a lot of minutes. Don't work hard on the defensive end and you can play minutes, but you won't play the minutes you think you deserve.'"
(Cassell's memories of Ollie as a player)
"Kevin was a guy who maximized, as a player, everything his body had to offer. He wasn't really a knockdown shooter, but if he had to take a shot, he had no problem taking a shot. He was a leader. He know how to play his position, point guard. He was pretty good defensively. He did everything pretty good."
(Did Cassell believe someday that Ollie would make a good coach?)
"I saw it because he loves the gym. He played in this league. If you played in this league, most likely you know what it takes to get to this league. He definitely knows what it takes to be successful. I think a lot of guys who go to UConn, their dreams are to be professional basketball players -- including my son."
"Kevin sold himself. (Sam, Jr.) asked me questions about him, but Kevin did an excellent job of selling himself and the UConn program to Sam. Sam loved it. He went to visit, they played Michigan, it was a bad weekend up there, the weather was bad, but he said he had a blast."
(on how tough it was for his son, after he committed to Maryland two years ago but was ruled a non-qualifier due to some courses he took at Notre Dame Prep)
"It was tough for him, but I said, 'Sam, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' It's a blessing, because now he gets the opportunity to follow in my footsteps. I went to junior college, became a JUCO All-American. I went to Florida State, he chose UConn. It's the same kind of pattern. If he has the success rate I had, he'll be OK."
Sam, Jr., sat out at Chipola Junior College in Tallahassee last year to focus on his studies. He's playing this season)
"It was great for him. I think he grew up as a young man during that time, too. Adversity hit him, he understands it, so he's just going with the flow ... He was down, because he got a raw deal. They know he got a raw deal."
(Will Sam be visiting UConn for a lot of his son's games?)
"Yeah! Any chance I get. I've gotta get Kevin to send me some UConn gear, so I can have my UConn hat on. Or I may just have to go buy a damn hat. But I'll be there ... Go Huskies!"
*** Meanwhile, UConn redshirt freshman Rodney Purvis will be undergoing surgery on Tuesday morning at the UConn Health Center in Farmington for a left labral repair.
According to UConn: The surgery, a left shoulder arthroscopy, will repair a torn labrum as well as tighten up muscles to stabilize a condition that has bothered Purvis since high school. The surgery is expected to alleviate sporadic episodes of pain he has suffered throughout the past few years while playing basketball.
An MRI done earlier this year revealed the condition and the decision was made to have the surgery now, while Purvis is forced to sit out this season following his transfer from North Carolina State. The recovery period is usually 4-5 months, allowing him to have a full off-season when he is able to return to basketball activities.
Purvis, a 6-4 guard, had been practicing with the Huskies up to this point. He will have three seasons of eligibility, beginning in 2014-15