Some notes, quotes and video from Puerto Rico Tip-Off
A few early notes, quotes and videos from today's goings-on (we'll have many more updates later, after UConn's shootaround which ends at noon (EST):
*** This is the second season in a row Charleston will play against a defending national champion. The Cougars opened up the 2013-14 season at Louisville and were thrashed, 70-48.
“It’s always fun going out and playing some great competition like the defending national champion," said senior guard and leading scorer Anthony Stitt. "UConn has a great team, we watched some tape on them. They’re really good in transition, they’ve got some good guys. We’re looking forward to take the challenge.”
Head coach Earl Grant: “We’ve got some older guys. I’m sure they’ll look forward to the challenge. We know it’s a challenge, but that’s why you play the game -- you like to be challenged.”
*** If you remember, Grant was hired back in early September after a month-long coaching search. Also interviewed in that search? UConn assistant Karl Hobbs, who could have been coaching against UConn, not for them, on Thursday had things played out differently over the summer.
*** Along with UConn, fellow Big East expatriates West Virginia and Boston College are here. Of course, Ryan Boatright once committed to Bob Huggins at WVU, only to de-commit a short time later when he found out Jabarie Hinds had committed a day later.
Asked about the (granted, ancient history) on Wednesday, here's Huggins' classic Huggy-Bear response:
*** Charleston sophomore Canyon Barry is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry. Like his dad, Canyon shoots free throws underhanded. He's yet to go to the foul line this season, but here's hoping he gets to the stripe on Thursday. I really want to see this, for some reason.
*** Boatright said he's got "about 16" family members and friends arriving for the tournament.
*** Boatright and Rodney Purvis talked about the tournament and what they expect on Thursday:
*** The court at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente features double-rims, but that won't be a big deal, according to Kevin Ollie.
“It’s alright. That’s what we had in the park. It’s fine. It’d be a problem if we just had to shoot on the double-rims, but everybody’s got to shoot on them.”
Ollie seemed interested that Boatright had mentioned the double-rims to reporters.
“I’ll make sure I note that with the guys tonight," Ollie said. "No excuses.”
*** Purvis noted that Jim Calhoun pulled him aside in practice last week and told him to slow down a little bit and "just be ready to make a play, just be ready to catch and shoot, things like that."
Noted Ollie: “That’s the luxury of having Coach there, because he knows so much about the game, and how to get to players. I’m just glad that he’s there if they need him. It’s just another that’s got my players’ backs, and I welcome it every day.”
*** Ollie on Calhoun's ESPN debut Tuesday night: “He did a real good job. He explained things very, very well, right to the point. It was real good.”
*** Omar Calhoun didn't practice on Wednesday and would appear to be unlikely to play against Charleston.
*** UConn will stay an extra day and take part in some team activities on Monday before flying back home Tuesday morning.