Auriemma Impressed by Ollie, Huskies

Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma knows a thing or two about winning. And he's impressed with what he's seen -- not just after Kevin Ollie and the Huskies beat St. Joseph's and Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16 -- but all season.

"He is Johnny Appleseed," Auriemma said Monday, according to the Hartford Courant. "He has crisscrossed the country dropping seeds everywhere he goes.

"The important thing is whether they germinate in his players. Judging by his record the last two years, they have."

And while Ollie deserves credit for the Huskies' success, Auriemma marvels at how many close games UConn wins.

"The one thing that has been so remarkable is when you see how many close games, down-to-the-wire games he has been in his two years and what their record is in those games … remarkable," he said.

"You think he hasn't coached long enough to really handle those situations. He has handled almost every one of them in textbook style. It helps when almost every guy on your staff has been head coach, but he has really been impressive."

Auriemma remembers Ollie as a high school player from Los Angeles making his recruiting visit to UConn back in 1991. In the subsequent two decades, he says Ollie -- as a college player, an NBA player, and later a coach -- remains the same guy.

He has been the same person," the coach said. "I have a chance to play golf with him a lot. The No. 1 thing that sticks out is just what a really, really good man he is, what a genuine person. How much he loves what he is doing, how much he loves UConn and how it hurt so bad to have the kind of year they had last year and not be able to play in the NCAA Tournament. That's why I'm so happy for him and the guys.

"My daughter [Alysa] teaches a class here and she has a couple of the guys in her class. You can tell how much they love playing here, love going to school here, being student-athletes here. I think that is a huge credit to him. We have talked a lot about a lot of things since he got the job and we still talk after every game as much as we can. When you think about it, that's the way it's supposed to be."

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