October 01, 2014
Connecticut NCAA college basketball player Amida Brimah crosses the finish line with a time of 20:22 as the first player to finish the Husky Run, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill

STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn coach Kevin Ollie put a new twist on the annual road race that marks the end of his team's preseason conditioning, and the unofficial start of a new basketball campaign.

The 41-year-old former NBA guard laced up his own running shoes Wednesday and ran the 3.4 mile course with his team and some of its fans in the pouring rain. He finished the Husky Run in 21 minutes, 25 seconds, behind just two of his players.

''He set the tone to let us know that we're going to be working extremely hard this year for the fans and to produce,'' said guard Ryan Boatright.

Boatright and the rest of the defending national champions spent the afternoon chasing both Ollie and their 7-foot center, Amida Brimah.

The sophomore, who was named along with Boatright as a team captain for the upcoming season, won the race in 20:22, about half a minute in front of guard Omar Calhoun.

''That is probably the first time in history a big guy has won the Husky Run,'' Ollie said. ''That's very impressive. Records are meant to be broken and I can't imagine anybody's done that, ever.''

Brimah, who was a soccer player in his native Ghana before picking up a basketball for the first time about five years ago, said his time would have been considered slow back home. He said he's been working hard all summer to rehab from surgery on his right shoulder and went into the run with something to prove.

''It's like being named a captain when you were just playing soccer and just started playing basketball,'' he said. ''I want to show that hard work pays off.''

He'll get another chance Saturday when the team holds its first practice, one of 30 the Huskies can run over 45 days before their first game. Ollie promised a lot more running.

''There's not going to be a lot of balls in there so I'm not going to be able to evaluate anybody,'' he said. ''But I will evaluate what condition they are in. We will find that out - first day.''

Boatright said the players know what to expect. They have to run hard, he said, because so many other teams are trying to catch them.

''We're the ones now with the target on our backs,'' he said. ''But that's OK. We welcome the challenge. We're chasing history.''

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