Published November 01. 2012 11:00PM Updated November 02. 2012 1:59AM
UConn's performance in its exhibition opener was far from a masterpiece.
But few teams paint a pretty picture at this stage of the season.
Coach Kevin Ollie won his exhibition debut, leading UConn to a 78-63 win over American International College.
Ollie gave his team's performance mixed reviews.
"This is a process," Ollie said. "We're going to keep building. We're going to keep playing the right way. We're going to respect the game. We're going to respect this great university and we're going to go out there and play with effort. They did that in spurts.
"We're going to have to do it for 40 minutes and try to sustain it."
A crowd of 5,349 attended the game at Gampel Pavilion.
A short rundown of what happened tonight:
-- UConn started slow, trailing by as many as 10 in the first half, and rebounded with a strong 16-0 second half spurt to take control of the game.
The Huskies blamed the sluggish start on jitters.
"Everybody was just nervous and we weren't playing our game…," sophomore DeAndre Daniels said. "In the second half, everybody did a little better."
-- Sophomore Ryan Boatright (14 points) and freshman Omar Calhoun (a game-high 24 points) led the charge. Calhoun scored 21 points in the second half and Boatright had 11 during the decisive run.
"We felt like we had to do something to turn it around," Boatright said.
-- Omar Calhoun, a gifted guard out of New York City, is the real deal. He's confidence, tough and talented.
He converted 8-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-6 three-pointers. He also had six rebounds, three turnovers, one assist, one steal and one blocks in 31 minutes off the bench.
Calhoun also flexed his muscles after converting a layup. Ollie didn't care for that gesture and let Calhoun know after the game.
-- Ollie went with a veteran starting lineup, going with junior Shabazz Napier, Boatright, junior Niels Giffey, sophomore DeAndre Daniels and junior Tyler Olander.
His rotation basically went eight deep.
-- R.J. Evans of Salem had a productive game, giving the Huskies a spark in the first half by scoring five points. He attacked the basket.
He converted a steal into a foul-inducing basket and then made the free throw.
Overall, he went 2-for-4 from the field with five points in 15 minutes.
Ollie praised Evans' contribution.
"He's still that rock that I look to," Ollie said.
-- Freshman Leon Tolksdorf saw the fewest minutes of any newcomer, playing three minutes without scoring a point or grabbing a rebound. He did block a shot, but wasn't credited for it in the final statistics.
Tolksdorf and center Enosch Wolf, who sat out the game because of a concussion, both took extra shooting practice after the game.
-- At this stage, newcomer Phillip Nolan, a freshman forward, appears to be a project. He managed to foul out in just nine minutes. He missed a couple easy layups after grabbing two offensive rebounds.
-- The rebounding problem likely won't go away this season. The Huskies were beaten badly on the boards in the first 15 minutes. They did a better job in the second half and finished with a 39-31 edge overall.
Daniels had a team-best nine rebounds.
-- As a former point guard, Ollie puts a lot of emphasis on assist-to-turnover ratio. UConn had 14 assists and 16 turnovers. Not a good showing.
The three guards – Napier, Calhoun and Boatright – combined for 10 turnovers.
-- UConn gave up too many easy baskets, especially under the basket. AIC scored 34 points in the paint and torched the Huskies with back-door cuts.
"That's something that we can correct," Ollie said.
-- Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun watched the game from the baseline seats on press row, sitting next to athletic director Warde Manuel. He scribbled notes and then spoke with Ollie after the game.
"Coach came in and we talked," Ollie said. "He said a few words, which I'm lying about. He can't say a few words."
-- UConn converted 44.3 percent from the field and AIC hit 43.1 percent. The Huskies made 7-of-17 three-pointers.
Olander, who went just 1-for-7 from three-point land during his first two seasons, took three shots from beyond the arc. He made one.
-- UConn has one more exhibition game left, hosting UMass-Lowell Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hartford. Former Husky Souleymane Wane is a part-time assistant.