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The following topics were covered during UConn's pre-practice availability on Thursday:
Okay, so that might be exaggerating a bit.
Rebounding will likely be the hot topic for the entire season.
Emeka Okafor and Jeff Adrien aren't walking through the Gampel Pavilion doors.
UConn simply lacks the muscle, size and mentality to dominate the boards. The Huskies have been out-rebounded in all but one game.
Kevin Ollie is a smart coach. But he isn't a miracle worker.
Rebounding continues to be a point of emphasis.
"I just do the same things that we've been doing," Ollie said. "It's just yelling a little more and losing my voice and emphasizing it a little bit more. There's no secret to it. I'm not inventing anything else.
"… Results come after effort. I'm not going to come up with any fancy drills because all the drills I got are retreads anyways. I took them from someone else. Somebody is going to take them from me.
"It's nothing different that we're going to do. We've just got to emphasis it more and we've got to coach our guys up that we've got in this gym."
When asked about productive undersized rebounders from his past, Ollie came up with a quick answer.
Kevin Freeman, UConn's director of basketball administration, was at the top of Ollie's list. At 6-7 power forward, Freeman led the team in rebounding as a freshman (1996-97) and junior (1998-99), averaging 6.4 and 7.3 rebounds, respectively.
"He's not the biggest guy, but he was fearless and he was relentless," Ollie said. Hopefully, they see examples like that. I can't think of anybody else that exemplifies that. … It's about going to get the basketball. It's about every time the shot goes up, you think it is a pass to you. Hopefully, these guys understand that."
Junior Enosch Wolf could help out in that department. Wolf, a 7-foot-1 center, had his best game of his career in Tuesday's loss toNorth CarolinaState, finishing with a career-best nine rebounds.
"We work on it every practice because it's been our biggest problem," Wolf said. "We're going to continue to work on it because it is going to win us games eventually."
Heading into Friday's game against Harvard in Storrs, junior Tyler Olander and sophomore DeAndre Daniels share the team rebounding lead at 4.5 per game.
Daniels has been battling a sore back. But he is expected to play tonight.
Veteran guard R.J. Evans (right collarbone area) also will be available. He returned to the team against N.C. State after missing two games.
"I was a little sore the next day but that was expected," Evans said.
The Huskies will have a 10-day exam break following tonight's game.
For more from Ollie on rebounding and Wolf's inspired play, check out the video link.
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.