It is, as they say, go time. For the UConn Huskies it's not just the start of another season but the beginning of a new era, Kevin Ollie's era. How long Ollie hangs around will largely be a function of how this inexperienced group performs over the next five months.
It all starts Thursday night when the Huskies face American International College in an exhibition game. The new-look Huskies won't resemble the recent squads -- defending national champs or nationally ranked teams expected to make deep postseason runs. For starters, the 2012-13 Huskies are banned from the NCAA Tournament for low APR scores. Then there's the dearth of experience -- five players bolted in the spring -- but Ollie is undeterred through it all.
"We always say `we before me,'" the coach said according to the Connecticut Post's Kevin Duffy. "Hopefully, they'll carry that out because they've been doing it (in practice), but when the lights come, and minutes, that's when you get the distractions."
And that's the rub: it's one thing to embrace team unity in practice, it's something else entirely when the games actually count.
"Are we going to be able to keep our composure at times when we're making mistakes?" junior point guard Shabazz Napier said. "That's one thing we can learn. The second thing is, `how hard can we work when it's a team we know we can beat?'"
In some respects, there are fewer surprises with this team than any in recent memory -- at least from the perspective of preseason. And in a lot of ways, that's a good thing. There are no expectations for this group, which sometimes makes it easier to just play basketball. Whether these kids can actually play … well, we'll all find out together.