Post-game breakdown, video: Providence

What a fitting way for UConn to end the season.

The Huskies displayed a competitive heart and spirit right to the final game.

With a 63-59 overtime win Saturday over Providence, UConn finished with a 20-10 overall mark and posted a winning record in Big East play (10-8) for the first time since 2008-09 season.

The sold-out Gampel Pavilion crowd stood on their feet for the entire overtime. They stuck around for a post-game salute to celebrate this team's accomplishments.

It's a shame that UConn's season is over. A post-season ban means no Big East tournament, no NCAA tournament.

"It's sad," sophomore DeAndre Daniels said. "We move on. ... But we enjoyed the whole season."

During the post-game celebration, athletic director Warde Manuel presented Ollie with a frame plaque to hang in the UConn locker room.

"We'll never forget what this team meant to the University," Manuel said.

Coach Kevin Ollie spoke to the crowd. The players stood together and watched a season highlight video.

Check out the attached video of Ollie's post-game remarks.

Here's some news, notes and quotes:

-- The All-Big East teams will be announced Sunday morning. Junior Shabazz Napier deserves a spot on the first team.

Once again, Napier proved his value to the Huskies, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 44 minutes.

UConn lost the previous two games when Napier sat out with right ankle sprain.

He decided to play just 35 minutes before the game.

"I decided I was mentally ready, I was going to push myself to be physically ready," Napier said. "It was about 35 minutes left on the clock and I came back in and just suited up. I was ready.

"... I'm glad I played. I'm glad for my team, glad for the fans and glad for coach Ollie to get number 20."

Freshman Omar Calhoun, whose sore right wrist kept him out of the game, is a lock for the All-Big East rookie team.

-- Junior Tyler Olander showed up on crutches. He injured his left foot in Wednesday's loss at South Florida.

"It is tough," Olander said before the game. "I want to be out there with the guys for the last game."

He said that he had been dealing with a stress fracture for a few weeks before the South Florida game.

He expects to have surgery sometime in the next two weeks and then need about six to eight weeks of rehab.

-- Providence associate head coach Andre LaFleur had some nice things to say about the play of freshman Kris Dunn of New London.

Dunn had 11 points and four assists before fouling out in overtime.

"He's getting better every game," LaFleur said.

-- Both Napier and sophomore Ryan Boatright will consider their options during the off-season. They will look into their pro possibilities.

Neither is projected to be a lottery pick.

The UConn player with the highest draft stock is probably Daniels, who played his best basketball in the last few weeks. He had 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks against the Friars.

"When guys got hurt, I just wanted to step up and keep playing and I did that," Daniels said.

In the last four games, Daniels averaged 21.2 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 blocks.

"The lightbulb just turned on in DeAndre," Ollie said.

-- For a UConn fan perspective, it must have been a extremely satisfying result. The loss basically ended Providence's NCAA tournament hopes. The Friars fell to 17-13, 9-9.

It was the last meeting between the two New England rivals as Big East competitors.

Here's what PC coach Ed Cooley said about the loss:

"I'm really, really proud of our kids. We came down here to play for Providence College. We didn't come down here thinking about Connecticut and what they're going through.

"God bless 'em, Kevin has done a great job this year with his team under the circumstances. So, give him a lot of credit."

-- More Ollie: "Getting 20 wins was one of our goals. Winning the Big East was one of our goals, and we didn't accomplish that. But those are superficial goals.

"The goals that I really want to talk was the goal of being the best attitude team in America. They were the best attitude team in America."

-- In his final game, R.J. Evans of Salem played a career-high 42 minutes. He went scoreless but had six rebounds, one assists, one block and one steal and held Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton to just nine points.

-- You have to wonder why Providence didn't do a better job attacking UConn's depleted frontcourt.

Daniels, 6-9 freshman Phil Nolan and 6-8 freshman Leon Tolksdorf played in the frontcourt.

The Friars had just 16 points in the paint. And they were out-rebounded 39-38.

In the previous meeting on Jan. 31, which UConn won 82-79 in overtime, Providence had a whopping 55-24 rebounding edge, grabbing 28 offensive boards.

-- UConn shot 36.1 percent, Providence 35.6.

-- Providence earned the No. 8 seed in the Big East tournament and faces No. 9 Cincinnati at noon on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

Reader Comments


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