It is, as they say, go time. And for the Huskies men's basketball team, that means the start of the 2013-14 season that is full of promise. A year after so much uncertainty, UConn, with a first-year coach, facing postseason probation and having lost four players to either other schools or the NBA Draft, somehow managed 20 wins.
Now they're not sneaking up on anybody, and Ollie expects his veterans -- Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright in the backcourts and DeAndre Daniels in the paint -- to shoulder the leadership burden.
“When we install our offense, the veteran guys know the offense, so we’re going to add some layers to it, some layers to practice I couldn’t add last year," Ollie said via the Hartford Courant. "Our veterans are going to know the foundation, and we’ll build on that. I don’t have to break down everything. …
“There’s less teaching,” Ollie continued. “We do a certain pattern every day, our veteran guys know that. I don’t have t break everything down, I can be more efficient with my time, which I can’t get back. That’s precious to me. If I have to keep going over things, that takes time away.”
And unlike their UConn football counterparts, the players have no reason to doubt their coach.
“Coach Ollie, he’s a mastermind,” Napier said. “He’s got great coaches on the side, those guys have a lot of intel. Experience wins you games, sometimes. They understand how much talent we’ve got and they’re going to work with it.”
Ollie set the tone early in the team's first practice.
"We wanted to really concentrate on physicality, on hitting first," Ollie said. "And also push the pace. We think we're going to have a quick team this year; we're going to be able to get out and run. Today was gut-check time. They fought through it. …
"They're going to be a good team," he continued. "They're going to have to challenge each other, play hard, and that's what we started here today. It takes different freshmen different amounts of time They've got a long way to go. I don't expect them to know the intensity, how hard we go, what we demand from our players. It's a learning curve, the sooner they get it, the sooner the better and they'll be able to play."