Monday, January 20, 2014

Ryan Boatright '50-50' for Temple Game; Terrence Samuel Ready to Step In

According to Kevin Ollie, it's "50-50" whether Ryan Boatright will be there for UConn's bout with Temple Tuesday night at the XL Center.

"He left and he said he wasn’t going to be back, but then we talked and he might be back," Ollie said. "I’m planning on him not being back, making sure Terrence (Samuel) is ready, Lasan (Kromah) plays a little bit of point guard. If Boatright comes back, it’d be great. But if he doesn’t, we say this all the time: next man up.”

It appears funeral services for Boatright's cousin, Arin Williams, are on Tuesday. Williams was killed by a gunshot to the head on Jan. 14. Perhaps that means he'll attend services, then try to fly back for Tuesday night's game, but that's not clear at this point.

When Boatright does return, Ollie hopes basketball will be a "sanctuary" for him.

“You go and get away from it a little bit," he said. "Hopefully, he understands that once he comes here, he has nothing but love. He has a brotherhood that’s got his back and is going to be here for him. Hopefully, it relieves him of that tension or thinking about his cousin, or the pressures of dealing with his family and the different dynamics of what’s going on. Hopefully when he gets on the basketball court, he can just think about basketball.”

*** If Boatright doesn't play Tuesday night, Samuel is ready for some more playing time. In fact, he seems to have been chomping at the bit for more PT.

“I’ve been ready to get in, show what I can do and help the team win," Samuel said. "I’ve been waiting for my time, I’ve just got to step in, make the right decisions.”

Samuel's played in just 10 of UConn's 18 games, averaging just 6.3 minutes per contest. He's played a grand total of six minutes in the Huskies' first five AAC games.

Samuel said the lack of action has been tough.

“It has, actually. At first, it kind of got to me a lot. I might have said, just stop working for a while, but I’ve still got to keep my work habits, keep working in the gym, get better, working on my shot and getting ready to play when my name’s called.”

He added: 

Said Ollie: “You never want somebody to lose or see somebody hurt, but if they go down, I’m like, ‘It’s my time, I’m ready to go.’ Hopefully Terrence, Omar (Calhoun), Lasan understand that. They might get that situation where they’re going to have the ball in their hand a little more.”

Ollie added that Samuel has been "getting better understanding the offense, the defense, the next play, not putting his head down as much, being confident in who he is. I see him being a terrific player here.”

*** Asked if he'd heard from any of his "mentors" after Saturday night's ejection, Ollie said: “I heard from my mother. She said calm down a little bit. That’s the best mentor of all.”

He hasn't heard from Jim Calhoun yet.

“Jim’s in Cabo, man," Ollie said with a smile. "He’s on a golf course. But I will hear from him. I know he’s seen the incident, but let him be on vacation. When he comes back, we’ll have our usual talks.”

He added that Kevin Freeman did a good job of escorting him back to the locker room.

“He did his job. I wasn’t going to go punch anybody. I just wanted to get my money’s worth a little bit. Kevin did a good job restraining me, so I didn’t overreact – which I did, a little bit, when I ran down the baseline. But, it happens. Hopefully, we can move on. Hopefully, (Mike) Stuart can move on from the game, and we can all be better from it. That’s what my hope is.”

Then, he reiterated: “That was a foul.”

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