Huskies look to avoid letdown, add guard for 2015

A few days removed from victory over Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic championship game and with Florida on the schedule next week, it could be easy for the UConn Huskies, who moved up to 13th in the AP poll Monday, to get caught napping against Loyola, Md. tomorrow night.

Senior guard Shabazz Napier says the Huskies (6-0) won’t get caught in a trap prior to taking a few days off for Thanksgiving break.

“They are a mid-major,” Napier said. “We just came off of Indy. … (But) We don’t think ‘oh we just beat Indian we should beat this team.'”

The Greyhounds are 4-0 and have won twice in overtime. Senior guard Dylon Cormier is averaging 29.8 points, which ranks third in the country.

“They are real good, G.G. Smith is doing a good job in his first year,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “(Cormier) presents a big-time challenge for us. We have to be able to play him, move our feet and it’s not just Bazz or Boatright. It’s going to take a team effort to stop him. You want to make is possessions hard, you don’t want to give him any easy buckets.”

Ollie said one of the keys to avoiding a letdown against the Greyhounds will be his veteran players like Napier, juniors Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels along with seniors Tyler Olander and Niels Giffey.

“You always have to have good leaders,” Ollie said. “Not only playing the game, but coaching the game, too.”

NEW BLOOD: After reportedly watching the Huskies beat Indiana and visiting campus on an unofficial trip over the weekend,6-foot-3 shooting guard prince Ali is coming to Storrs.

“It’s been a long time coming I have officially committed to the university of Connecticut (Uconn) #bleedblue #HuskyNation,” Ali tweeted Monday afternoon.

Ali, who will play at The Sagemont School in Miami this year after transferring from Pembroke Pines, becomes the first member of Ollie’s Class of 2015.

A FINE MESS: Sophomore Phil Nolan has struggled to stay on the floor the past few games for the Huskies due to foul trouble. Against Indiana, Nolan played only six minutes and picked up four fouls. He lasted 11 minutes against Boston College, but also ended up with four fouls.

Ollie said the problem has been two-fold for the 6-10 sophomore.

“It’s a combination of him not getting there early, it a combination of breakdowns of our guards giving up penetration,” the head coach said. “But he’s got to be on the court and he’s got to understand that I want him to play aggressive but you have to anticipate better. They are calling those ticky tack fouls, so if you are over there early and help maybe you can get a charge or maybe you can been in better position to get a defensive stop instead of a foul.”

CHANGING IT UP: In the final minutes of the game against the Hoosiers, the Huskies had Boatright and Omar Calhoun on the bench and went with a lineup that included Napier, Giffey, Lasan Kromah, Daniels and Olander. Ollie said he liked what he was getting from that group at the time, so he rode with them.

“If you expect minutes at the end of the game you got to produce during the game,” Ollie said. “They understand that and you got to play defense, but it is a product of the depth that we have on the bench. We are a very versatile team. We can go big, we can stay small. And I thought that lineup gave them trouble because I thought every player on the floor besides Bazz has some length.”


William Paxton