Over the weekend, current Kevin Ollie took part in Jim Calhoun's annual Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk, and after biking 25 miles, the second-year Huskies coach spoke to the Hartford Courant's Mike Anthony about the state of a program coming off an impressive 20-win season.
“It’s not a different feel," Ollie said of Year 2 as the Huskies coach. "I’ve just got to experience different things as they come and connect the dots. … There are different experiences that come along and I know I’m dealing with 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds, so there’s always something and it’s always interesting. I just want to make sure I don’t look like I’m just interesting, I want to be interested in my kids. Hopefully they feel that. I just want them to be the best role models they can possibly be, the best ambassadors and well-rounded. That’s what we’re trying to do, is to condition them.”
A year ago, the NCAA had just slapped the program with a 2013 tournament ban for poor Academic Progress Rates. Now, some 12 months later, and the team is on good academic footing.
“We had five guys make the honor roll," Ollie pointed out. "We had R.J. [Evans] graduate with a 3.7 and his graduate degree. Tony Robertson, he [returned and] graduated. Taliek [Brown] is around, he’s finishing up. So academically it’s going well and on the basketball we’re doing well."
And on the court, the Huskies return all five starters, not to mention incoming freshman Kentan Facey, Terrence Samuel and Amida Brimah, and George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah.
"Tyler [Olander] and Shabazz [Napier] are getting healthy [from foot injuries]," the coach continued. "Omar [Calhoun] had two hip surgeries, so he’s getting healthy, and I can’t wait for our freshmen to get up here. That’s exciting.”
One player whose status is up in the air? Enosch Wolf, the seven-footer who was arrested earlier this year whose scholarship has since gone to Kromah.
“Enosch’s situation is he’s back in Germany," Ollie said. "We’re waiting for his decision, what he’s going to do. He has options of transferring, getting a pro contract or coming back to our school -- without having a scholarship available. We’ll just wait and see what he does and we’ll support him all the way. He’s made tremendous strides doing the different programs that he went through. Hopefully when he’s back in that situation he reacts in a different way and it’s a different outcome. I think it will be. He’s a tremendous young man.”