UConn's Olander needs to remedy foul trouble

Storrs - Too often, Tyler Olander has watched long stretches of games from the UConn bench.

Foul trouble has plagued the starting forward.

Olander, UConn's most experienced returning big man, has fouled out in three of seven games, averaging just 22.6 minutes overall.

The Huskies (6-1) need Olander on the court longer to increase their odds of beating No. 18 North Carolina State (4-2) on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Olander, a 6-foot-9 junior, has watched game tapes to try to solve his foul problems.

"I've just been a step slow with everything, with my help and recovering back to my guy," Olander said after practice Sunday. "I'm reaching in a little bit.

"I've got to take it upon myself, especially in (Tuesday's) game, to stay out of foul trouble and play like around 30 minutes at least and just really try to contribute as much as I can."

Olander is committing too many unnecessary fouls, according to coach Kevin Ollie. He fouled out of three of the last four games and has more fouls (20) than rebounds (18) in the last five games.

"He just can't have the ticky-tack fouls," Ollie said. "He knows how to correct it. But I do need him on the court a little bit longer to give us that strength and give us that depth in the frontcourt."

Olander's production, 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds, is a bit disappointing. He's yet to score or rebound in double figures this season. Ollie continues to believe in Olander.

"He's not discouraged," Ollie said. "He might have been discouraged after the (New Hampshire) game (on Thursday) a little bit. We're all human. But you get yourself right back up, and that's what he did. I believe in him. … And he's going to go out there and play hard."

Evans a game day decision

Veteran guard R.J. Evans took another step toward returning to game action by participating in non-contact drills on Sunday.

Evans, who has missed the last two games with a sprain in the right collarbone area, still hopes to play in Tuesday's game.

"I felt pretty good out there today," Evans said. "I talked to (UConn trainer) James (Doran) after practice. It will probably be a game time decision. .. I'll probably do a lot in practice (Monday) and see how I feel Tuesday."

As the top reserve, Evans is averaging 5.8 points and 1.8 minutes.

"His numbers don't even tell the different things that he brings and the added dimension he brings to the team, just his energy, just his leadership, just being an extension of the coach," Ollie said.

"… I don't know if he's back yet. I just don't want to put that pressure on him. But if he does come back for this game, it is definitely going to be a lift for us."

News and notes

UConn freshman Omar Calhoun is from Brooklyn and attended Christ The King High School, but he's never played in Madison Square Garden. "It's my first time playing in the Garden," Calhoun said. "I'm excited for it." … The Huskies will practice in Storrs today before leaving for New York. … Georgetown and Texas play in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader.

g.keefe@theday.com

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