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PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 12, 2014


Kevin Ollie


TIM SIMMONS:  Give us a thought on your team's practices so far.  I guess you've had one exhibition game so far.  What are your thoughts?
KEVIN OLLIE:  Yeah, we had two exhibition games, and they fairly went good.  We didn't have no injury, which is a good sign, and guys are falling in love with the process.  We have some new starters that's playing different roles for our team now, and like I said, the process is upon us, and we're looking forward to the challenge, and we keep getting better each and every day is what I like.
There's a couple things we emphasized after our first exhibition that showed up in our second one, and those are different things that I look forward to our success.¬† Hopefully we can continue to do that on Friday and get started off on the right foot and then head down to Puerto Rico where we're very excited to be a part of the Puerto Rico Tip‑Off tournament.
TIM SIMMONS:  What are you thinking about the strengths of your team?  Any concerns now that you see?
KEVIN OLLIE:¬† Just concerns.¬† You know, we shot free throws very, very well last year, and the past two games I think we missed nine each exhibition game and 11 I think our first exhibition game, so we definitely want to correct that because we did a lot of great things on the free‑throw line, and when someone makes a mistake, when they foul on us, we want to convert, especially when you're pretty much up there by yourself and not being guarded.¬† We want to do that better.
We want to push the pace more.  I think our last game we had 17 fast break points, which I want to get even more than that, and just also continue to rebound.  We have to do a better job.  I think our second exhibition game we didn't do as well as our first exhibition game, so I want to get those numbers up, better, so we can allow ourselves to run and get out and use our athletic talents to our team to lead us to victory, hopefully.
TIM SIMMONS:  What players have stood out?  Obviously you've got Ryan Boatright, who might be your top returner, but talk about your top players.
KEVIN OLLIE:  For starters, Sam Cassell has been shooting the ball excellent.  I think he's 13 for 21 in two exhibition games shooting it from deep, gives us that veteran experience playing from JuCo, coming in from Chipola.  He's been able to play in numerous games against top competition, and he's bringing that veteran experience to our team.  Ryan Boatright, of course, is our only senior.  And then we have some sophomores that's mixed in there that some of them didn't play a lot of extended minutes last year because we had DeAndre, we had Shabazz, and Niels Giffey, but now they've come into their own because they didn't have to step up.  Ken Facey is going to have to step up in that 4 man role, and we have another freshmen, Rakim Lubin, that's been playing very, very well.  Got a newcomer in Daniel Hamilton from Los Angeles that has been playing very, very well, been a versatile player for us, had 12 rebounds our last exhibition game.  He's kind of like a stat stuffer, and he's been doing an excellent job for us.  We're just going to keep pushing, and Rodney Purvis is doing well, struggled shooting the first game but the second game came back and played with more energy and intensity, and he's a terror when we get out on the fast break and have him pushing the ball and running the lanes.
TIM SIMMONS:  I know you have a couple games, or one game prior to the tournament.  What's your thoughts about College of Charleston?  For the second straight year they'll be playing the defending national champion in the preseason.  What are your thoughts about Charleston?
KEVIN OLLIE:¬† Yeah, they are a good team.¬† I know Coach Grant is coming in and been there over two, three months, and inherited a team, and I know he's putting his imprint on there.¬† We don't know his imprint yet, but I know they're going to be a defensive‑minded team and different things that he's brought over from Clemson.¬† I just know they're going to be well‑prepared.¬† He's a great young coach, and we're going to have to have our hands all on deck and ready to play a full 40 minutes, and hopefully our guys understand that.
I know they have a couple starters that's back, Anthony Stitt, and they have Baru that's coming back, too, that was all‑defensive team in the Colonial Athletic Association.¬† I know it's going to be a good test for us, and we've got to be ready to play.¬† We've got to play, like I said, 40 full, and make sure we come out prepared.
TIM SIMMONS:  What do you think about the format, play two days, off a day, and then play the placement games championship game on Sunday?
KEVIN OLLIE:¬† Yeah, hopefully we will be able in a position to take care of our bodies after hopefully two wins and have the championship game fully fresh and injury free.¬† I do like the format.¬† It gives us an opportunity to break if you have two challenging games, and you can play that third for the championship.¬† I think it lends to a better championship game where some other tournaments have three straight days where you're playing.¬† Hopefully we take advantage of it.¬† Hopefully we take one game at a time and not worry about the break on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday.¬† Let's take the first game, get ready to play, play UConn‑style basketball, that's defensive pressure and being efficient on the offensive end, and playing together.¬† That's the one thing we believe, and we'll just allow it to continue and let the journey take its shape, and we're going to go out there and play our type of basketball hopefully in the Puerto Rico Tip‑Off tournament.

Q.  I love what you say, and I've heard you say it before, fall in love with the process.
KEVIN OLLIE:  Yes.

Q.  How did you come up with that?  Where did you get that from?
KEVIN OLLIE:  You know, I just know about the process, and the biggest thing is so many people fall in love with the prize at the end, and you know, it's always a process, there's always some ups and downs.  There's different things you've got to tend with during the season, some ups and downs, but you can't get distracted with the crumbs, and that's the prize at the end.  I've got to do this and I've got to score because of something else that's happening external, and I've got to do me and play my type of basketball.  We've got to play UConn type of basketball, and that's what we believe in the process, and there's going to be some ups and downs like life is, but if we fall in love with that and get better each and every day and improve, I think we're going to be a successful team, and not only a team, they're going to be successful men, and that's what we're really trying to create here.

Q.  How do you think Calhoun is going to do in his new career?
KEVIN OLLIE:  I know Coach likes to talk, so I think ESPN likes him to get up there and talk.  He's not a person that shies away from his opinion, so I mean, that's going to be great for ESPN, and I think he's going to be very opinionated, and he's got a wealth of knowledge.  I mean, anybody who's sat around here and just spent two minutes with him, kind of knowledge from basketball to life, that he's able to hopefully give out to whoever is watching out there in TV land.  I think he's going to do an excellent job.  I know he's very excited about the opportunity, and you see that spirit that he always had when he was coaching, and now into a new endeavor, he's going to have that much more spirit.  I love him to death, and I think he's going to do an excellent, excellent job.

Q.  I was watching you guys throughout the tournament, obviously, and I love your approach, and the one concern that I had was when you played against the bigger teams, Phillip Nolan and Amida Brimah had a tougher time scoring inside.  Could you talk about their development and what you've seen improvement wise in them over the summer?
KEVIN OLLIE:¬† Yeah, it's definitely a concern about our team having those guys really finish inside because I think that's very demoralizing to the opponent when you can score and you can just throw it in and you can get a bucket or they can get to the free‑throw line and put the opposing big in foul trouble.¬† They're doing a great job.¬† Phillip Nolan actually gained 20 pounds over the summer and became a lot stronger.¬† His base has been a lot stronger and him being able to elevate.¬† And our guys have to finish through contact.¬† Any big guy is going to be contact there.¬† We have to not get distracted by their contact and lose where we're at and where is the basket, and we've got to adjust to contact and finish strong.¬† I think that's what we're working on.
Glenn Miller does a great job with our bigs and Amida and Phil, but Amida, he takes it to another level.  He is a worker bee.  He works and works and works, and you try to kick him out of the gym and he gets in through the back door.  It's an amazing thing that that kid has a spirit of getting better, and he's going to have his ups and downs, he's just a sophomore, but he's going to be great.  He's going to open a lot of people's eyes on the offensive end with his ability to shoot over the right and left shoulder now.

Q.  I'm doing a story for Basketball Times Magazine about team camaraderie in sort of the social media and smart phone era.  From your playing days to now, your coaching days, have those things, phones and headphones and Twitter, sort of weakened the bond among players?  In other words, are they not talking as much as they used to, instead they're buried in their phones and things like that?
KEVIN OLLIE:  I mean, I imagine you can say that across the board.  I mean, just even in the family dynamics before it even gets to our program, you know, you used to eat as a family and sit and watch TV, and now with the video games, you go upstairs and play video games, and like you say, put on the headphones.  You see families go out to dinner and everybody is scrolling through their phone.  I mean, it's just different ways of getting information, and it's kind of taken over, but at the end of the day, it's our job to make sure our team is communicating the right vision, communicating amongst each other because that's so vital to team chemistry, and being able to challenge each other.  I think anybody that knows me thinks one of our pillars for our program is to challenge each other and be voiceful and verbal in your challenges, and the next man take it and don't take it personal.  We want UConn to win.
Hopefully they can start doing that, and just walking around with the headphones and different things like that is really kind of isolating yourself from the student body.  We just don't really advocate our guys always walking around with the headphones.  We want them to immerse themselves in the student body and enjoy their time here at the University of Connecticut.

Q.  I wanted to ask about Omar Calhoun, if there's any updates on him.
KEVIN OLLIE:  Yeah, I had a breakfast this morning, and I just got in the office, so James always comes around and gives me an update, and hopefully (inaudible) rehab yesterday, and hopefully he has another one today, and we'll just check it day by day, so I couldn't give you a definitive answer on that until Thursday, and if he can't practice Thursday, most likely he'll be out on Friday.
TIM SIMMONS:¬† Coach Ollie, thank you very much, and look forward to seeing you next week here at the Puerto Rico Tip‑Off.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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