STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut has over performed by many accounts early this season. At 4-1 going into today's game against Stony Brook, the Huskies have started to generate a bit of excitement up in Storrs.
In a sign that head coach Kevin Ollie has made the full transition to role as head coach he isn't happy.
UConn is 4-1, but Ollie wants them 5-0. And, he knows exactly why.
"If we were a better rebounding team, we could easily be here 5-0, but it's not that way, so we have to bounce back," Ollie said.
The Huskies are small, that's no secret, and they are going to have to rebound better if they are going to remain viable when Big East play begins.
UConn is 4-1, but its been out-rebounded in every game this season and is currently a -8.6 in rebounding margin this season. It's not for lack of trying, it lack of height, size, quickness and athleticism. UConn is small on the front-line with Tyler Olander the only legitimate inside option at 6-8, 225-pounds. The Huskies play a lot with the 6-8, 195-pound DeAndre Daniels – a natural wing – at power forward. Off the bench both 7-footer Enosch Wolf (3.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and 6-9 freshman Phil Nolan (2.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg) have shown some flashes but nothing sustained. Olander leads the Huskies in rebounding through five games at a paltry 4.6.
There's a saying that Ollie knows well after his 13 years in the NBA and it's “No rebounds, no rings.” It can apply to his first team with UConn.
“It's getting back to basics,” Ollie said. “We are emphasizing that you have to hit first and not only hit first but go get the basketball. You can't think the ball is going to come into your hands. We are challenging the guys and coming in with the coaching staff and thinking of different schemes and thinking of different drills to bring to their attention. At the end of the day, it's the will to go get the basketball.
“We got the guys to do it,” Ollie continued. “We have to know if we get rebounds we can run, and that's something we do very well. Without securing that rebound it's hard to get out on fastbreak.”
The Huskies will play a Stony Brook team that is coming off a win over Canisius on Saturday and is 4-1 on the season. Stony Brook averages 41 rebounds per game led by senior Tommy Brenton is is averaging 7.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. The Seawolves also have 6-8 freshman forward Jameel Warney who is averaging 10.5 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. Guard Anthony Jackson leads the Seawolves averaging a 13.4 points per game.
The Huskies' already thin roster is without guard R.J. Evans (chest injury) and forward Leon Tolkfsdorf (knee).