Thursday, September 5, 2013

Coach Profile: Kevin Ollie

Looking Back:  Kevin Ollie had a remarkable season.  He inherited a program in disarray.  Their Hall of Fame coach retired, they had the departures of four key players in Oriakhi, Lamb, Drummond, and Smith.  On top of that, the NCAA slapped UConn with a post season ban, which the Big East piggybacked with a suspension of their tournament.  If things couldn’t be worse, Ollie also had to play with a seven month contract, which meant if he didn’t show results right away, his dream job could be short lived.  And what did he do?  He coached his butt off, knocking of a respectable Michigan State team early in the season and continued to have his team play at a high level.  The flaws of this team were too much to overcome and they ended up in the middle of the pack in the highly competitive Big East, which was more then anyone would’ve expected from this group.

The Good: He’s young, enthusiastic, and has a wealth of knowledge as a college and NBA player to lean on.  With that background, Ollie can come up with a solution to any problem that can arise on the basketball court.  He’s also proven that he can maximize the talent on his team which is the best asset that a coach can possess.  He is also a great role model for today’s athlete.  He didn’t have the pure athleticism nor opportunities that other players have had, but he did things the right way and earned his accolades through hard work, determination, and a humbling attitude. 

The Bad:  It is still unknown how Kevin Ollie will handle a team in the post season and a team expected to do well.  Even the Hall of Fame coach had problems with teams expected to achieve great things.  Even with some early success on the recruiting trail, Kevin Ollie hasn’t put together his own team yet and it will be interesting to see what type of players he brings in and how he can mold them into a team.

Looking Ahead:  With last year behind them, it feels like a weight has been lifted off the shoulders of Kevin Ollie, but this year might be just as important.  They will need to show the rest of the country and possible recruits that UConn and the AAC are still a viable option.  The only way to do that is to go out and win games against elite competition.  With a tough non-conference schedule, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.  If Ollie can get the same effort out of this team as he did last year and with an influx of experience and talent, this team is primed to challenge to win that first ever AAC title and earn a hefty seed in the NCAA tournament.  

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