Napier defends Olander, Huskies wait on Facey’s status

Shabazz Napier (AP)

Shabazz Napier (AP)


Senior forward Tyler Olander remains suspended from the team even after having his DUI charge dropped Monday and did not take part in Wednesday’s Husky Run. However, his teammate/roommate Shabazz Napier says Olander made the right call on Sept. 7 getting behind the wheel to drive some intoxicated friends home.

“I just think people might think he made a bad decision, but I think he kind of made the right decision,” Napier said. “He was helping out two people driving home. Granted he was a little buzzed, but he wasn’t over the intoxication level. He was driving without a license and that’s the only bad thing, but sometimes you get put in these pickles because you want to help out people. That’s what he told me he was trying to do, and I think he’s going to be back on the team.”

Olander reportedly paid a $75 fine for driving without a license, but the DUI he received for failing a field sobriety test was dropped Monday in court. Olander, according to a police report, was under the legal limit of 0.08 when tested with the breathalyzer.

Despite being away from the team, Olander appears to be doing the right things off the court.

“I just want him to learn and hopefully he does that with the different steps he is taking,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “He’s doing a good job so far, but every day like I said, you have to win today. Every one of us has our vices, I got to sacrifice mine I’m not going to tell you, but every day you have to do that and he has to understand that.”

As far as Olander’s return to the team, the head coach left that open.

“That’s on him,” Ollie said. “I expect a lot of things, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. … I would like him to play, but it’s really on him. I am evaluating him each and every day, so it could change today or it could last until we are playing in the last game in the Final Four.”

WAITING GAME: The UConn Huskies are scheduled to open practice on Saturday morning, but freshman Kentan Facey’s status for the season remains in question. Facey continues to await clearance from the NCAA, which has his case under review because it believes his “eligibility clock” may have started early.

Facey, a 6-foot-9 forward, transferred from Jamaica at age 16 and spent three years in U.S. high schools. One of the sticking points in the case, according to Facey, is that in Jamaica high school starts in seventh grade and goes to 12th grade while in the U.S. it starts at ninth grade.

“Right now what I am hearing based on the meeting with compliance and stuff is they are trying to work everything out as quickly as they can,” said Facey, who has not spoken the NCAA himself. “I’m looking forward to them getting back to me as soon as they can.”

Ollie hopes to have a quickly resolution, but has worked on keeping Facey in a good frame of mind.

“It’s difficult, but the same thing I have been telling (transfer Rodney Purvis) I have been telling him – you don’t control this a bit, but you have got to think positive about it,'” Ollie said. “I just told him to show up every day and when the NCAA gives its ruling, it gives its ruling.”

Facey has tried to follow that plan.

“I’m looking at it as a learning period right now trying to get as much accomplished in workouts and stuff, so when everything works out I am ready to go,” he said.

DAY ONE: Due to a new NCAA rule, the Huskies will open practice a little earlier this season, with the first day coming Saturday at Gampel Pavilion.

“I don’t know how long we will go, but trust me we are going to go hard,” Ollie said. “It’s a tradition. We are going to be in our grays, and you got to earn (your jersey). We have been doing that forever, so that’s what we are going to do and they have to earn it to get over here.

“It’s not going to be a walk in the park.”

NOTES: The only player who did not run in Wednesday’s race was Omar Calhoun, who is recovering from off-season surgery on both hips. … Director of Basketball Operations Kevin Freeman was the lone coach to run. … Graduate student Derek Lockwood, from Millville, Mass., won the 3.4-mile race in a time of 17:20.

William Paxton