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UConn's only worry right now: New Hampshire

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published November 29. 2012 4:00AM

Storrs - With the Big East basketball empire crumbling around them, UConn remains focused on what it can control.

There's no sense in wasting energy worrying about crazy conference realignment and the jarring impact of the Atlantic Coast Conference picking Louisville over UConn and Cincinnati on Wednesday.

UConn only has New Hampshire, tonight's non-conference opponent at 7 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford, on its mind.

Coach Kevin Ollie has faith that UConn president Susan Herbst and athletic director Warde Manuel will make the best decision for the university.

"I don't pay attention to it too much," Ollie said of realignment. "You definitely care, but I'm not worried about it. I'm going to coach my team. We're in a great conference now, and we're going to try to win conference tournaments and conference titles.

"I just really believe and have faith in Susan and Warde that they'll make the best decision for this university, because I love this university."

So far, the Huskies are providing their fans something that the Big East can't: stability. They're off to a somewhat surprising 5-1 start while scoring high marks in Ollie's three E's - enthusiasm, energy and effort.

UConn will attempt to go 3-0 versus America East competition this season. New Hampshire (2-3), which was selected to place sixth in the conference preseason poll, is not considered as strong as Stony Brook and Vermont, two teams that UConn handled.

The Huskies will be without top reserve R.J. Evans (sternal-clavicular sprain) for a second straight game. Evans is ahead of schedule in his recovery. He dribbled and shot baskets on the side on Wednesday, but it is highly unlikely he'll be ready for Tuesday's game against N.C. State in New York.

"R.J. is progressing really well," Ollie said. "I'm happy with the way his injury is coming along. Hopefully, we'll get him back soon. His range of motion is coming back. He's doing a lot of things. He's coming back very quickly."

While winning and playing well rank one-two on UConn's wish list for tonight, it also would be a good confidence booster if it could win the rebounding battle, too.

The Huskies have fallen woefully short in that area in all six games.

"I've seen progress," Ollie said. "But it is still a ways to go. We still have to box out more consistently."

The Huskies are averaging just 30.5 rebounds per game compared to 38.2 for opponents.

Sooner or later, their deficiency will cost them more than just one loss.

"We understand that in order for us to win games that we're going to have to do that," sophomore Ryan Boatright said.

g.keefe@theday.com

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