A Look at UConn’s Nonconference Schedule

NBC Connecticut

First Night is in two days. Exhibition games are three weeks after that, and before you know it, the 2012-13 season will be officially underway. ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil took a look at the nonconference schedule of every team in the Big East and here's the verdict on the UConn men's team.

Toughest game: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 9 in Germany), vs. NC State (Dec. 4 in NYC), Washington (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest game: Paradise Jam (Nov. 16-19), Harvard (Dec. 7)
The rest: Vermont (Nov. 13), Stony Brook (Nov. 25), New Hampshire (Nov. 29), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 17), Fordham (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Welcome to the hot seat, Kevin Ollie. Jim Calhoun has done you little in the way of a favor, leaving a Huskies team in the midst of reconstructing itself a tough schedule. The Armed Forces Classic with the Spartans on the base in Germany will be a spectacle in the best sense of the word, but followed just four days later with a not-so-easy game against perennial America East contender Vermont. And that’s just the first week. There's also a preseason top-10 team in NC State and a decent field in the Virgin Islands that includes New Mexico and several dangerous mid-majors.

Then there's this nugget from UConn's website: "UConn will have at least 13 games against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season, raising that total to 14 should the Huskies meet New Mexico in the Paradise Jam."

O'Neil's right -- Ollie is facing a lot of pressure because depth and experience have been decimated by defections to the NBA or other schools and -- oh, right -- he's also working on a seven-month contract.

But as junior guard Shabazz Napier pointed out last week, Ollie will be up to the challenge.

"He's used to circumstances like this (the one-year contract)," Napier said. "I think that's what makes him a better man and it's why he's so mentally strong. Coach says to understand that you have to be mentally strong no matter what the circumstances are. You can't change the circumstances. He'll be great because he has such a passion."

We'll see starting in a couple days.

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