The first media day for the American Athletic Conference took place Wednesday, and UConn coach Kevin Ollie was there to talk about what to expect from the Huskies in Year 2. The team was picked to finish second behind Louisville in the AAC preseason poll, a development that means nothing to Ollie from the perspective of mid-October.
"That's respect, but it doesn't mean anything," he said, "because everybody starts the season zero and zero. I want to be first at the end of the American Conference tournament. It's just a number right now. … You can talk all you want to, but if you don't have actions to back it up, it's irrelevant."
But the Huskies will feature a veteran lineup led by first-team all-AAC selection guard Shabazz Napier, who not only has the respect of other AAC coaches, but the AAC's preseason player of the year, Louisville's Russ Smith.
"Shabazz is one of the most [sound] fundamental guards in our league," Smith said, via the Hartford Courant. "And I know how explosive Boatright is."
That would be Ryan Boatright, the junior guard who join Napier in the backcourt and was a second-team all-AAC selection.
One name conspicuously absent from the preseason all-conference team: DeAndre Daniels, a legit NBA prospect who is primped to have a big year.
Man, that's crazy," Napier said of Daniels' omission. "People are always overlooking DeAndre. He should have been preseason player of the year."
Daniels sounded unconcerned.
"I'm not disappointed, it doesn't bother me. All I can worry about is what I can do for my team, and to make my team better."
Meanwhile, SMU's Larry Brown, who coached Ollie in the NBA, and Louisville's Rick Pitino, had only laudatory things to say about the Huskies' coach.
"I just told the UConn players how lucky they are," Brown said. "He's what the game is supposed to be about; his values are the values I thought I was taught. A lot of players I've coached have taught me how to coach, and Kevin is one of them."
And Pitino added: "UConn has a coach that is not only a terrific young coach, they have a coach where there is not a living room he couldn't walk into, anywhere in the country, where when he leaves, that family would not list him as one of their top three choices. That's how impressed I am with Kevin Ollie."