Ollie's guys staying busy

Storrs - Coach Kevin Ollie has instructed his UConn basketball team to do something that he'd never suggest during the season.

Be selfish.

The Huskies have more freedom during the summer to set up their own workout schedules.

But that doesn't mean they can slack off.

They didn't become one of the college basketball biggest surprises last season by hanging out at the beach and playing video games during the offseason.

"Now is the time we throw out the word selfish," Ollie said Wednesday. "You can be selfish now. … You can wake up any time and come to the gym and work out and start working toward your dream.

"We tell the guys, get up, workout, get yourself in the gym, so when it's time for somebody to tap out, it's not you taping out. Every day somebody is going to tap out and give up. I want our guys never to give up and never to give in and get through any situation. It goes back to hard work. There's no secret to it."

Led by Ollie's inspirational leadership, the Huskies pushed aside any disappointment over a postseason ban and posted a 20-win season.

He's positively excited about his team's upcoming season. Summer workouts are a crucial part of the preparation and development process.

These Huskies are a busy bunch.

Shabazz Napier, who's fully recovered from his foot injury, and Ryan Boatright, are attending Point Guard Skills Academy in Union, N.J., this week. They'll be at Chris Paul's Elite camp in North Carolina in August.

Ollie has received encouraging reports about their play at the Point Guard Skills Academy.

"I think we're the only university that's got two guards there," Ollie said. "It's really exciting for us to get the feedback. I heard Shabazz and Ryan did well the first day. … It will give them a nice springboard to the season hopefully."

Forward DeAndre Daniels, a rising star who averaged about 21 points and nine rebounds in the last four games last season, is heading to Kevin Durant's Skills Academy in Washington, D.C. The three-day camp starts on Friday.

Daniels is spending a lot of time in the weight room, trying to add weight so he can better absorb a season's worth of pounding.

"He's been here the whole summer working out trying to gain weight and trying to get stronger," Ollie said.

Ollie's plan for Tyler Olander, who's almost healed from surgery to repair a stress fracture, is for the big man to play for a touring team, with Athletes in Action in South Africa one possibility. Olander is looking to rebound from a disappointing junior season.

Another Husky on the mend is guard Omar Calhoun, who had off-season surgery on both hips. He's about a month and a half away from playing basketball. Former Husky Donnell Beverly and returning guard Brendan Allen both benefitted from having the same surgery in the past.

"That's going to allow him to move more efficiently on the court without having that joint rubbing against that bone…," Ollie said of the surgery. "He's right on schedule. He's biting at the bit to get back on the basketball court."

For UConn's newcomers, this summer is about getting acclimated to their new teammates and school. Freshmen Amida Brimah, Terrence Samuel and Kentan Facey all are on campus for the summer school session.

"I'm so glad that these guys are up here for the five week summer sessions where they can get with (strength and conditioning) coach (Chris) West and probably spend more time with him than anybody," Ollie said. "We still get our two hours a week with them to do individual (workouts)."

George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah will likely arrive at UConn for the next summer session. A 6-foot-5 swingman from Greenbelt, Md., he's working out in Washington, D.C., with college and pro players.

All four new Huskies have a chance to make an impact, according to Ollie. His projected starting lineup includes Napier, Boatright, Calhoun and Daniels. Competition for the final frontcourt spot is wide open. Forward Phil Nolan, who showed encouraging signs in limited play as a freshman, will likely be in the mix. His goal is to add about 10 pounds before August.

g.keefe@theday.com

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