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Coaching staff excited about upcoming recruiting period

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published 06/23/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 06/22/2013 11:42 PM

The UConn men's basketball coaching staff will ride a wave of momentum into the crucial July recruiting period.

The program has emerged from a stormy period during which the coaches had to deal with the impact of last season's postseason ban and answer questions about the long-term status of head coach Kevin Ollie.

In his first season, Ollie did a masterful job turning a negative into a positive, leading the highly-motivated Huskies to several impressive wins on the way to a 20-10 season. He was rewarded with a five-year contract just before the start of their final Big East season.

Now the Huskies are hoping to capitalize on their success and momentum.

"A lot was gained with our success last season," associate head coach Glen Miller said. "There's so much negative recruiting. (People were saying) the program is falling apart. We dispelled all those negative thoughts and perception.

"The program is in good hands. Everybody is back. We have a chance to be very good this year. Players are motivated for team success and individual success. It's a great situation and projects positively to recruits."

In recent weeks, the coaching staff has focused on laying the groundwork for the July recruiting period and narrowing their wish list of top players in the Class of 2014. Their primary needs are a combination guard and power forward.

"You don't want to go out and spread yourself too thin," Miller said. "We want to hone in on kids. We've had a lot of meetings, a lot of phone calls and shared a lot of information with each other."

Ollie, Miller, and assistants Karl Hobbs and Ricky Moore will rack up the frequent flier miles traveling the country to attend AAU events and evaluate players.

The hectic schedule leaves Miller little time to play golf.

That's okay with Miller, who enjoys the recruiting process.

"We're in a great position," he said. "We're excited. We're selling a great situation to the kids."

Non-conference tests

Strength of schedule will be even more important for UConn this season now that it has moved from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference.

The Huskies are building a challenging non-conference schedule. They could play three teams that competed in the NCAA tournament last season. They host Florida (Dec. 2) and Harvard and may meet Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic.

Stanford, which went 19-15 last season and played in the NIT, will visit UConn. Maryland, a 25-win team and NIT semifinalist, will face UConn on Nov. 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

UConn will host Boston University and Detroit in the early rounds of the 2K Sports Classic before heading to the event's final four at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies take on Boston College on Nov. 21 while Indiana and Washington play in the other semifinal. Finals are set for Nov. 22.

Other non-conference home games include Yale (Nov. 11) and Eastern Washington (Dec. 28). UConn also will likely travel to Washington.

News and notes

It is highly unlikely that reserve center Enosch Wolf will return for his senior season. Wolf has the option of coming back as a walk-on after losing his scholarship. He served an eight-game suspension after his arrest last February for his involvement in an on-campus domestic dispute. He received counseling and eventually had his charges dropped. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will attend the Point Guard Skills Academy in Union, N.J., starting on Monday.

g.keefe@theday.com

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