Friday, September 21, 2012

Coaching Profile: Kevin Ollie

The choice of Kevin Ollie as head coach was of no surprise to anyone.  He came over to UConn from the Oklahoma City Thunder where he was a mentor to a young but upcoming team.  Once at Storrs, Kevin had instant credibility with the players, because they had the embodiment of what success through hard work could get you standing directly in front of them.  He could also strap on the sneakers and coach by showing, which is an asset that sets Ollie apart from other coaching prospects.  There are so many people that have been around Kevin Ollie that attest to the strong moral character that he possesses and he will carry on the legacy of giving back to the community that Jim Calhoun was known for.

With that all being said, there are still some major question marks leading into Kevin Ollie’s first year of coaching.  Mainly will his coaching in practice translate to the play onto the court.  Especially in this trying season where UConn is missing scholarships and the opportunity to play in the NCAA and Big East tournaments. The X’s & O’s will remain the same.  UConn won’t switch to a zone oriented defense and don’t expect the Princeton offense to take over the pick & roll  or high-low scheme that UConn is used to seeing.  The major differences will be the in-game decisions like pulling a key starter with two fouls in a tight ballgame and keep him there until the second half, or calling a timeout 5-seconds into the second half because someone misses an assignment.  Other differences will be with the dealings with the players and referees in game. Ollie doesn’t have the same personality as Calhoun and that onerous stare that Calhoun used as a weapon towards referees and players isn’t in Ollie’s arsenal.  It will take Kevin some time to get used to the intricacies of the sideline and that 7 month contract is looming over him.

Another question mark is that towards the end of last season there were rumors swirling that Ollie was more interested at coaching in the NBA than taking the UConn coaching job.  While his passionate and heartfelt speech during Jim Calhoun’s retirement press conference, where he stated that this is was his dream job and that he wants to remain at maybe not until his seventies but for a long while, did quell those feelings a bit, but there is still an inkling that this could be a stepping stone to a NBA job.  Maybe UConn fans are a bit spoiled with the longevity of Calhoun’s tenure, but this program needs stability, especially at this fragile stage .

Ollie won’t be judged strictly on wins and losses this season.  That is too difficult of a task to set upon a rookie head coach that is heading into a turbulent season like this one.  He will be judged on the toughness of his team, the fight and effort they put forth each and every game, and his competency on handling in-game situations. If he can show all of these qualities then he should have a three year contract with the possibility of an extension after that.  And for Ollie’s sake, he wouldn’t want it any other way.  He has his foot in the door and that’s all he really wanted.  Look at far that has gotten him.

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