Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A whole bunch of notes, quotes and video from today's AAC Media Day

It was AAC Media Day today at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. Kevin Ollie, Ryan Boatright and Amida Brimah represented the Huskies. Rodney Purvis had been slated to attend, but had classwork to tend to.

The Huskies certainly got some love from the league's coaches: Boatright was named preseason player of the year, Daniel Hamilton is preseason freshman of the year, and UConn was tabbed to win the conference. Barely. The Huskies got six first-place votes, SMU got five. And really, that's pretty fair, in my mind. Boatright seems to agree.

Here's some video, notes and quotes:

RYAN BOATRIGHT:


(on UConn barely edging out SMU, by two points, for first place in the preseason coaches' poll)

“I think it was fair. I’m never gonna put another team above us. But I was just telling Amida while Coach (Larry) Brown was talking -- SMU’s gonna be tough. They beat us twice last year, they play tremendous help defense, they can score the ball, they’ve got great players, they move the ball so they’re hard to defend. They’re gonna be a real tough opponent.”

“We’ve still got some learning to do. We’re a younger team. The legs are there, we can get the ball up and down a lot more.”

“I think we’re just as talented (as last year's team). I can’t really say it’s as talented -- we won a national championship. But, we’re real talented. The main thing for me is to work. I’ve always had to work hard and grind for everything I have. What I love about this team is they come to practice every day and work very hard.”

(on Brimah)

"His game has evolved so much on the offensive end. Everybody already knows he’s a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, but I’ve seem him put a lot of work in this summer on his offensive game. He has a knock-down, 15-footer now. He has a tremendous right-hand hook. I’m proud of the work he put in.”

(on Daniel Hamilton)

“He’s just a natural-born scorer. He has all the intangibles -- 6-7, long, lanky, athletic, a knock-down jump-shooter. He has all the things he needs to be a great player. Obviously, he’s young, so the I.Q. has to increase a little more. But as far as athleticism and intangibles, he has them all.”

AMIDA BRIMAH:

“I don’t think (his off-season surgery) held me back this summer. When my shoulder was hurt, I would so stuff with my right hand to work on my form and shooting and stuff. As soon as I couldn’t do the upper-body lifts, I was doing a lot of leg workouts and stuff like that. I made up for it.”

“I think I have a pretty good jumper. My post moves have gotten way better.”

Brimah says he'll be taking more shots from 15-17 feet out. No 3-pointers, however.

(on avoiding foul trouble)

“I’ve got to have good timing and make good decisions, and know when to go for a block and when not to go for it.”

KEVIN OLLIE:
“A lot of people had a lot of doubts about our program two years ago. So, those questions are answered. But there’s gonna be other questions -- about autonomy, the (power) five conferences, about me leaving to the NBA after I sign a five-year contract. At the end of the day, I love UConn, these players love UConn, they play they great for the university. To see the men’s and women’s teams do it together, that means everybody’s on board."

(on what former Big East teams, besides Georgetown, UConn may schedule in the future)

"Maybe Providence, I’d love to start something back with Syracuse. That’ll be great, just to get back to the Carrier Dome, Syracuse come back to the XL Center or Gampel, I think that’d be awesome. I’m glad we’re starting out with Georgetown, we’ve had some epic battles … It’s gonna allow us to stay in the D.C. area, also, where we do a lot of recruiting. It’s gonna be an opportunity for us to get better. Playing against a Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, St. John’s, to get back in the Garden -- we’re always looking for opportunities like that.”

“We’ve had some great battles against Providence, B.C. We played them a lot when I was playing there. If the opportunity arises, it works out on our schedule, we’ll definitely look at all those opportunities.”

(on Omar Calhoun, currently sidelined by a knee injury)

“Omar’s doing great. We had the MRI come back, everything was structurally sound. He does have a little sprain in his MCL, but I think he’s gonna be back, hopefully in time for the season’s start. If not, we’re gonna go with the guys that we have. But it was great results we got back from the doctor, saying there was no structural damage and he’s just gonna have to rehab.”

“You saw Omar handle adversity well last year. That’s the beautiful thing about Omar.”

(on whether or not being picked to win the conference is a "burden")
“It’s not a burden. It really doesn’t matter to me now, so how can it be a burden if it doesn’t matter to me? What matters to me is, hopefully we’re No. 1 in team chemistry. That’s gonna allow us to be where we need to be at in March and April. It can’t be a burden if I don’t care.”

“I care about Ryan getting voted, because I didn’t vote for that. I think that’s a great, humbling award for him, and how much the coaches think of him. But we’re not putting extra pressure on ourselves as a team.”

MICK CRONIN:

“I don’t know who’s on the all-league teams, I don’t know who was picked where. I try to practice what I preach to my players. I wouldn’t care if we were picked No. 1. I don’t think any of it matters. I think it’s a burden if you’re picked to win. To me, whoever was picked to win the league, I’m sure if you asked the coach, he’d probably rather not be picked to win the league.”

LARRY BROWN:

(on Emmanuel Mudiay, now playing in China)

“He’s done pretty well. He’s trying to adjust to the food. But he’s got his mom, his brother and his cousin there.”

“I’m excited for him. I’m not excited for the precedent it might set. But, you’ve got to recognize a lot of kids, when they have an opportunity to help their families, it’s tough to pass up. But, it’s not a good message for young people. Hopefully, the NBA will address it.”

“I think it’ll get worse. If he’s as good as I know he is, and he’s the first, second or third pick in the draft, which I’m pretty confident he will be, I’m worried that a lot of kids will think about it. They won’t think of Jennings or so many kids who have come out early and aren’t playing anymore. We’ve got to address that. Maybe do it like baseball -- let them come out after high school if they’re great, and if not, it’ll help make the college game better, stay in school, give us a chance to coach and teach kids.”

“If Emmanuel had stayed -- he’s the only kid we signed -- we could have played with anybody. WIth him not being here, it gives opportunities for other kids. We have depth, we have experience. We lacked maturity in big games last year, at times. If we can get over that, I think we’ll be better.”

FRANK HAITH:

“The coaches in this league -- wow. From Larry Brown, Hall of Famer, to Kelvin Sampson, who’s coached in the Final Four, to Kevin Ollie, who just won a national championship -- you know these guys are going to play at the highest level, because of the competitiveness and the coaching, the knowledge of the coaches in this league. That’s exciting for me.”


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