With a stable of highly athletic guards, UConn coach Kevin Ollie is hoping to push the pace this season in Storrs.
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When he first returned to campus this summer, senior shooting guard Rodney Purvis decided to go for a run. Specifically, he wanted to do the Husky run, a longstanding UConn tradition in which players jog 3.1 miles around campus. He finished in 28 minutes and decided that time wasn’t good enough.
So he submitted himself to the athletic trainers and strength coaches and endured seemingly endless sprints and sessions on the Versaclimber (a device that simulates scaling a ladder) to improve his cardio conditioning. And when it was time for the official Husky run, on Sept. 28, he shaved more than three minutes off his time. When he reached the finish line, coach Kevin Ollie locked him into an embrace. “I remember the first year at the Husky run, he barely made it,” Ollie says. “Now he’s in great shape, and we need that to accomplish our goals this season.”
This year, UConn’s goal is to play fast. Under Ollie, the Huskies have never finished better than 214th in adjusted tempo, according to kenpom.com, and last season they ranked 292nd out of 351 Division I schools. But Ollie believes UConn has too many talented guards—particularly, Purvis, sophomores Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier and freshman Alterique Gilbert—to rely solely on halfcourt offensive setups.
When he wasn’t running this summer, Purvis was working on his rebounding. Ollie wants the 6' 4" Purvis to have the kind of impact on the glass that the 6' 1" Shabazz Napier did as a senior in 2013–14, when he averaged 5.9 boards. And Ollie has given Purvis permission to push the fast break when he brings down defensive rebounds. “I do anything this year,” Purvis says, “I’m going to rebound, and I’m going to run.”
X-Factor: Redshirt sophomore forward Terry Larrier
Larrier sat out last season after transferring from VCU, where averaged 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds a game as a freshman. He’ll likely step into a role similar to that of the departed Daniel Hamilton. Ollie believes Larrier, who is 6' 8", will be one of the fastest and most effective wings in the country.
Coach’s Take: Kevin Ollie
“We have a motto on our team: The open man gets the shot. I want these guys to love each other and play with each other and enjoy each other. That’s what a true brotherhood is about—it’s about all of us representing UConn. If we can do that, I think we have a great team. I think we have an athletic team. We have eight sophomores and freshmen—eight guys with under two years of experience. We’re going to be young, but those guys are very talented. Once we put it all together, I think we can have a special year. But it takes mental toughness. It takes extra effort. We have to be better together. I think if we are team-based, not individually based, we can do something magical here.”
Projected Top Seven Scorers
Projected AAC Standings
|Conference Rank||Team||Proj. Conf. Record||’15-16 Conf. Record|
More scouting reports: 1. Duke | 2. Kansas | 3. Kentucky | 4. Oregon | 5. Villanova | 6. North Carolina | 7. Virginia | 8. Wisconsin | 9. Gonzaga | 10. Arizona | 11. Purdue | 12. Xavier | 13. Louisville | 14. Syracuse | 15. Indiana | 16. UCLA | 17. California | 18. NC State | 19. West Virginia