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UConn branches out to Bridgeport (video)

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published December 27. 2013 5:00PM   Updated December 27. 2013 5:30PM

UConn practiced at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport this afternoon, preparing to play its first ever home game there.

The 10th-ranked Huskies (10-1) host Eastern Washington (5-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

It will be UConn's first home game somewhere other than Hartford or Storrs since Jan. 3, 1987. The Huskies lost to Syracuse, 88-71, at the New Haven Coliseum.

Some news, notes, quotes and video from today's practice:

-- As of Friday, only a limited number of tickets remained. The building holds roughly 9,000 for basketball.

"It's good to get down to Fairfield County," coach Kevin Ollie said. "Our guys are excited. Hopefully it becomes a hometown venue for us."

Bridgeport is familiar turf from Ollie whose wife Stephanie is from the area.

"We're going to have a lot of fans and family in the stands...,"Ollie said. "They don't usually get a chance to get up to games, some of her family members, so it's going to be exciting."

-- Senior Shabazz Napier sat out part of practice. He's dealing with some tendonitis.

Ollie isn't worried about his leading scorer's health.

"He's all right," Ollie said. "You know he's a gamer, so he'll be there."

-- Ollie's biggest concern continues to be rebounding. The Huskies have out-rebounded opponents by a slim margin, 35.5-35.3.

-- The starting lineup changed for the first time this season Sunday at Washington. Freshman Amida Brimah replaced sophomore Phil Nolan at center.

Brimah had four points, three rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes in an 82-70 win. Nolan played well off the bench, tying season highs in points (8) and rebounds (5).

When asked about the lineup for Saturday's game, Ollie declined to show his hand.

"I'll sit with the coaches and evaluate practice and then we'll come up with the starting lineup," Ollie said.

-- Ollie and junior Ryan Boatright are celebrating birthdays today. So what does Ollie want for his 41st birthday?

"The only thing they've got to do is get a win and keep getting better," Ollie said. "That would be a great birthday gift for me."

-- Boatright on Webster Bank Arena: "We like the gym. Nobody complained about it."

-- Eastern Washington has three Germans on its roster. UConn senior Niels Giffey knows one player very well -- junior Martin Seiferth. They're both from Berlin.

"I've known him since I was 12," Giffey said. "He's the younger brother of one of my real good friends back home who plays for the national team, too.

"So it's going to be fun to see him. What are the chances to play against a guy from Germany that you actually know pretty well? I"m on the East Coast and he's on the West Coast. When we saw the schedule in the beginning of the year, he called me right away."

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

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