Their basketball skills might have helped get them into college at UConn, but coach Kevin Ollie is proud of his players’ achievements in the classrom.
Ollie mentioned the other day at a breakfast in Cromwell that last year’s team scored 1,000 on the APR, which was something the program had struggled with in recent years and kept them out of the postseason last March.
“We did get a thousand last year,” Ollie confirmed Friday after practice. “I want them to get a thousand this year. We’re working on that.”
In addition to fielding a championship program on the court, Ollie, who graduated from UConn in 1995, has pushed for the players to succeed away from the game.
“I’m happy with their focus in the classroom because there was a lot going (on),” he said. “You lose coach (Jim) Calhoun, a Hall of Fame coach, right before practice starts. You have the situation where we couldn’t go to a tournament and they just buckled in. They played very hard, but that they also did what they had to do off the court. I’m so proud of them the way they are becoming men off the court, even on the court. They know I have my degree here and I really believe in the school, I believe in education for them. They understand that.”
Junior Ryan Boatright said the players have developed a support system to make sure none of the Huskies fail to live up to their classroom responsibilities.
“We push each other to go to class,” Boatright said. “Whoever you live with, you know we all have apartments, by this time in the school year we know everyone’s schedule and if they oversleep you wake them up and tell them to go to class.”
Ollie also has an incentive to make sure the players help police themselves.
“If you oversleep and miss class they check from that and we got to run,” Boatright said. “Nobody wants to run for somebody else not going to class, so we definitely make sure everyone goes to class.”
– The Huskies continue to work hard on honing their rebounding skills. Among the new practice wrinkles was a 2-on-2, boxout drill that grew rather loud and spirited at times in Gampel Pavilion
– Freshman Terrence Samuel continues to impress his teammates in practice. “T works very hard,” Boatright said. “He’s a freshman and it’s a lot to put on a freshman point guard, I know that from experience especially with all the plays and stuff like that. He works extremely hard, he asks questions all the time and I’m really impressed with Terrence.”