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Ollie, Evans excited about exhibition opener

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published 10/31/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 10/31/2012 10:18 PM

UConn held basketball practice on Wednesday afternoon to prepare for Thursday night's exhibition opener versusAmericanInternationalCollege, a Division II program, at Gampel Pavilion. Game time is 7 p.m.

Some news, notes and quotes from the post-practice media session:

-- Tonight's game will mark the debut of first-year coach Kevin Ollie

"I'm ready for tomorrow," Ollie said. "I have no choice. I can't turn back now. … I'm happy to be out there. I'm happy to be coaching this team."

-- R.J. Evans of Salem is excited about playing in his first game at UConn. He spent the previous four years at Holy Cross.

"I can't wait," Evans said. "It's going to be a great experience for me. Every year at this time I really get really excited and anxious to start playing. This is my last year and my last exhibition games.

"… Everybody is going to go out and play hard and execute and try to get the victory."

-- Sophomore guard Ryan Boatright sat out part of practice after mildly spraining his left ankle. He will be ready to play Thursday.

"For precautionary reasons, we just kept him out," Ollie said. "I think he will be full go ready to perform and be Ryan Boatright.

-- Center Enosch Wolf, who is recovering from a concussion, was cleared to participate in non-contact drills. Ollie hopes that Wolf will be ready to play in Sunday's exhibition finale against UMass- Lowell inHartford.

Without Wolf, the Huskies will have 10 scholarship players available tonight.

-- Ollie has not settled on a starting lineup. He says he has three different lineups floating around inside his head. He joked that he might let his daughter pick the lineup.

-- Recently retired coach Jim Calhoun had a notoriously quick hook. He once yanked Craig Austrie just 11 seconds into a game at Pepperdine.

Ollie says he's more a feel type coach when it comes to substitutions. But he won't tolerate a lack of effort.

"If I don't see a guy giving effort, I will have a real quick hook, Ollie said. "But if I see a guy giving effort and he makes a mistake honestly, I'm going to let that go. If he continues to do the same mistake, then that's a problem."

-- The storm forced the Huskies to take Monday off from practice. They already had Sunday as a designated day off.

They returned to practice at noon on Tuesday and also held a short workout that night. Women's coach Geno Auriemma allowed Ollie to take the early practice slot that had been reserved for his team.

"Coach Auriemma was gracious enough to let me have the noon practice," Ollie said. "It was his early day, so I appreciate that. There is some good will going on, so I like that."

-- The two-day break helped junior Shabazz Napier whose right foot continues to heal. He's nearly fully recovered.

"My foot still stiffens up," Napier said. "That's the only thing that irritates it. But I feel like I'm near it, if not there. Two little breaks we had Sunday and Monday took care of it a little bit but I still feel a little stiff."

-- Senior Dave Vandal of Stonington has made the team as a walk-on. He played at UConn-Avery Point.

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