The UConn Huskies and Florida Gators have met only once before, but head coach Kevin Ollie does not have fond memories of the meeting. In the 1994 Sweet 16 at the Miami Arena, the Gators beat the Huskies 69-60 in overtime. Donyell Marshall went 0-for-2 from the foul line with three second left in a 57-57 tie, and the Gators went on to dominate OT.
“They played well, had the crowd behind them and the momentum,” Ollie said. “We thought Donyell would make one of the free throws, he didn’t make it and they took it to us. It happens.
“That was a game, but it wasn’t Donyell’s fault. We had many plays before that (that could have won the game.)”
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY? Before settling on UConn, one of the other schools junior forward DeAndre Daniels reportedly had under consideration was Florida.
“I don’t know how close he was,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I really liked his skill level, he was 6-foot-9. He’s a guy who has benefited from a having a couple years in college. … He’s probably put himself in position now to someday play in the NBA. He has really grown in a lot of ways since he was a freshman.”
Daniels is averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Huskies in seven games this season. After failing to get a rebound against Loyola, Md. in the first half of last Tuesday’s game, Daniels ended up tied for the team-high with eight along with 21 points.
“It’s effort, going out to get the basketball,” Ollie said. “We want to get rebounds off the rim, he started to do that the second half. I believe he had eight or seven the second half. We want him to put consistent halves together, one half and then the second half. Once he starts doing that people start putting games together where he is averaging those 10 rebounds which I think he can average.”
Ollie wants more effort from everyone at the line, not just Daniels, against the Gators.
“It’s not only DeAndre, but everyone has to step up to the plate against this team,” Ollie added. “Because it’s going to come down to a grown man basketball game, they are going to throw it off the backboard and go get it. We have to meet that challenge and accept that challenge.”
MAKING STRIDES: After struggling with fouls against Boston College and Indiana, sophomore Phil Nolan managed to stay on the floor for an extended period of time against the Greyhounds, logging a season-high 18 minutes with eight points.
“Phil made some good plays, but he just has to finish,” Ollie said. “He made some terrific moves over his right shoulder with his left hand hook. It was good to see him get eight points. We need him to have that same productivity and more.”
Nolan admitted it felt good to contribute after dealing with early-season foul issues. In four of the first six games, Nolan had four fouls, with the Hoosiers game being his short stint (six minutes).
“I just tried my best to be aggressive, but not foul at the same time,” Nolan said.
QUOTABLE: Ollie on how the Huskies have looked in their return from Thanksgiving break.
We worked the turkey out of them, worked the stuffing out of them. It was good.”