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This is Kevin Ollie’s first full day as head coach of the UConn men’s basketball team.
It’s a safe bet that Ollie woke up early this morning, worked out, and then headed to the basketball office.
Even though his playing days are over, Ollie remains in great shape.
Let’s take a closer look at Ollie:
-- He was born Dec. 27, 1972 inDallas.
-- He grew up in Los Angeles and attended Crenshaw High School.
-- He made his official visit to UConn the same weekend as Donny Marshall. They remain close friends.
-- During his UConn career, he was a point guard and two-time captain. He helped the Huskies win two Big East regular season championships (1993-94, 1994-95) and reach the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. He’s still ranked No. 3 all-time at UConn in assists and No. 1 in that category for Big East games.
He was as a tough as his head coach, Jim Calhoun.
“Every time you told me that I was the toughest man in the gym, I wanted to prove you right every time,” Ollie told Calhoun during his press conference on Thursday.
He is a member of UConn’s All-Century team.
-- Former UConn assistant Howie Dickenman, now the head coach at Central Connecticut, recruited Ollie. He says Ollie’s nickname is “Always Working.”
-- Ollie had to fight for playing time at UConn. As a freshman, he played behind veteran Chris Smith. Then UConn brought in junior college transfer Covington Cormier to challenge Ollie for playing time. And Doron Sheffer, a veteran player fromIsrael, also came to UConn during Ollie’s career.
Ollie refused to give any ground and earned a starting job, playing in the backcourt with Sheffer.
-- He once played for the Connecticut Pride of the CBA.
Ollie’s NBA career spanned 13 seasons. He played for 11 different teams, completing his playing days in 2009-10 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
NBA coaches loved Ollie’s veteran leadership, tireless work ethic and positive attitude.
“They brought him to Cleveland to teach LeBron James to be a professional,” Dickenman said. “Oklahoma City took him to teach Kevin Durant. When you talk about character, you talk about Kevin Ollie.”
-- This is Ollie’s first college head coaching job. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant.
Ollie was a popular pick for the job.
"It's tremendous...," Marshall said. "Any other guy would not have the support of the former players."
-- He’s only the fourth head coach at UConn since the 1969-70.
-- His one-year contract runs until April 14, 2013. He’ll make an annualized rate of $625,000.
-- He celebrated his 14th wedding anniversary this week with his wife, Stephanie. He has two children – a son, Jalen, and daughter,Cheyenne.
He grew very emotional when talking about his family on Thursday. He spoke directly to each family member.
“You’re Daddy’s Little Girl,” Ollie said to Cheyenne. “It’s always a great time walking you to the bus stop down the hill with our dog. Don’t call me at that time. That’s the best time of the day walking you to the bus stop and you waving to me. I love you.”
He thanked Jalen for being so tough.
-- Check out the attached video for more on Ollie.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.