UConn notebook: Facey bangs the boards, Napier hits another milestone

EARNING HIS STRIPES: Kentan Facey has sat and watched from the UConn bench quite a bit this season. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound freshman finally got an extended chance to show what he could do against Maine Friday night at the XL Center.

He responded by leading the team with nine rebounds to go with four points in 18 minutes – all of those numbers being season highs.

“That’s always the mentality for me (to get rebounds),” Facey said. “Sometimes it’s a lot harder against I you would say bigger and stronger opponents but we still go in with the focus on rebounding, try to give it the best shot we can. Today I was just extra focused on that and I guess that was the end result. I got few big ones.”

While he has not been on the floor much on game days, Facey has tried to maximize his practice time with teammate DeAndre Daniels and maintain a positive attitude.

“I work out with DeAndre a lot,” Facey said. “We’re in the gym together and we work on shots and moves. If there’s any one guy that I would say I admire his game or look up to him, it would be him because our style of play and our body type is similar. The way we play is similar.”

The Huskies have several options ahead of Facey on the depth chart, but if he attacks the glass like he did against the Black Bears, his head coach will find more playing time for him.

“One person I am very proud of is Kentan, stepping up,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “Nine rebounds. He’s one of the guys who hasn’t been getting a lot of playing time. (But) it’s not all about the game, it’s about his attitude and how he’s preparing. That shows you today that he’s ready.”

When Facey’s number – for just three first-half minutes – was called Monday against Florida, he was ready to go in and mix it up with the much more chiseled Patric Young (6-9, 250).

“He’s huge,” Facey said, with a smile. “When I got out there I just wanted to hit him to see what it was like. He’s just so big.”

ELITE CROWD: Senior guard Shabazz Napier continues to add his name to the UConn record book. Against Maine, Napier picked up his 500th career assist, placing him in some good company with three other Huskies that had at least 1,000 points/500 assists: Talik Brown, Tate George and Doron Shaffer.

With 1,377 points and 504 assists, Napier is also one of just two Huskies with more than 1,300 points and 500 assists. Shaffer is the other Husky.

“It’s just a remarkable feat by him,” Ollie said. “That’s what you get when you stay here for a long time you have the opportunity to win and be around great players. You get the opportunity to share the basketball, but to also make plays, too. He did an outstanding job again tonight.”

Napier finished with seven points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals in 22 minutes. He and fellow point guard Ryan Boatright (team-high 17 points) combined for 13 assists and four turnovers, while UConn overall had 23 assists and 12 mistakes. Freshman point guard Terrence Samuel added four assists and four turnovers.

“The point guards were outstanding,” Ollie said. “Boat was outstanding today, made the game easy. Making the pull ups, not making the game difficult. (He had) a five to one assist to turnover ratio, and Bazz gets eight assists and three turnovers.”

Opposing view

Maine coach Ted Woodward

On how to be a major program:

“You almost have to play flawless basketball when you’re playing against a team that’s in the top 20. You can’t have turnovers that lead to dunks, which happens often. You have to really make sure that on the offensive end you try to be patient enough to get the type of shot that you want.

“Against a team of this level you almost have to play a flawless game. The way to do that is really by valuing every single possession.

On UConn’s 3-point shooting:

“We really wanted to keep them away from the rim, keep them away from the deep paint, and hope that we would challenge enough 3s that they weren’t going to get comfortable. Obviously, they were very comfortable and they did a really good job with it.”

William Paxton