In the seconds after the Huskies' Elite 8 victory over Michigan St. put them back in the Final Four for the second time in four seasons, Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, who led UConn to three national titles during a quarter-century in Storrs, hugged Kevin Ollie, the second-year coach with 49 wins in that span, the most in school history.
It was the unofficial passing of the guard, old giving way to new, but with the results unchanged: Winning.
So what did Calhoun, who hand-picked Ollie as his replacement, tell his protege during their embrace?
"He just said, 'I'm proud of you, keep doing what you're doing, keep battling and thinking about the team,' " Ollie said Monday, via the Hartford Courant. "I was trying to hold back tears. I just said, 'Thank you for believing in me,' because a lot people didn't. There were a lot of doubters."
Ollie offered more context Sunday following the win.
"It's always in the back of your mind and thinking about certain things, is this the right job?" the coach said. "Should I stay in the NBA? You have those thoughts going on in your mind. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be close to my family and I wanted to come back to my second family, which is my UConn family. And just to be around Coach all the time and him believing in me, even before this coaching thing, even as a 17-year-old, and believing in me that I could be a point guard. And passing up on a lot of guards to have me come way from Los Angeles to Connecticut is like unbelievable. And he always believed in me from day one."
Two weeks ago, Ollie told Huskies fans that he planned to return to Connecticut with a championship. At the time, it seemed like one of those things coaches say because, well, they're coaches. More for motivation than a prediction of things to come. Four wins later and the Huskies are in the Final Four. Two more and they're national champs.