Manuel plans to reward Huskies' Ollie for a job well done
Arlington, Texas - Coach Kevin Ollie has earned praise and respect for leading UConn on a surprising run to the Huskies' fourth national championship Monday night.
He's also earned a raise, according to athletic director Warde Manuel.
Manuel has talked several times in recent days about sitting down with Ollie after the season ends to talk about his contract.
"Nothing to think about," said Manuel when asked about renegotiating Ollie's contract. "From my standpoint, he's done an absolutely wonderful job. When you look at where he is, it's going to cause me to do some work and I'm willing to do that because the success that Kevin has had."
Ollie was hired as interim coach to replace Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun in September 2012 and then given a five-year deal worth almost $7 million in late December that year. His contract runs through the 2017-18 season.
He led the Huskies to a 32-8 record and a 60-54 victory over Kentucky before 79,238 at AT&T Stadium, a national championship game record.
Manuel believed UConn had potential to reach an elite level when the season started, but the Huskies exceeded his expectations.
"I knew they were talented if they played together," Manuel said. "I knew we had some tremendous leadership in Shabazz (Napier) and Ryan (Boatright) and Niels (Giffey), in terms of how they held together and bonded together over the last year and a half.
"And I knew them as young men, terrific young men. Did I know we would be here, did I predict that? No. What I knew is that we had the potential to do what we did. I live everything game by game."
It will be a smart move for Manuel to reward Ollie for his coaching success. Ollie is likely to be considered a candidate for both college and NBA job openings. He has strong ties to the professional ranks where he played for 11 different teams in 13 seasons.
Ollie has earned a few contract performance bonuses for his team's postseason success. He'll receive roughly $100,000 - one month salary ($33,333) each for qualifying the NCAA tournament, reaching the regional semifinals and advancing to the Final Four.
If UConn won the national championship on Monday, Ollie is due about $67,000, or two month's salary.
Napier following Walker
Napier received the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award on Monday morning. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the winner on Sunday.
Napier is the second UConn player in four years to receive the honor, joining former teammate Kemba Walker (2011).
"It is an honor for us to award such a worthy athlete of this prestigious award," said Bob Cousy in a released statement. "Napier has fought hard in the NCAA tournament and has stood out all throughout his college career as a dominant force in the game and a remarkable point guard."
Napier was attempting to lead the Huskies to a national title, just as Walker did in 2011. Both players earned All-American status.
During the first five NCAA games, Napier averaged 21 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Walker averaged 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists during his championship run. He was expected to attend Monday's championship game.
Calipari was an assistant on Larry Brown's Philadelphia 76ers staff in 1999 when Ollie played there. Ollie's teammates used to give him a hard time because he kept detailed scouting reports.
"He was unbelievable student of the game then," Calipari said.
Calipari also has a long history with UConn, running the UMass program (1988-1996) for eight years. There was a great deal of friction between Calipari and coach Jim Calhoun.
"It was a rivalry," Calipari said. "We wanted it to be, they did not, which I don't blame them. They were in the Big East. We were in the Atlantic 10. We really didn't play each other, but you had two teams going at each other.
"But all I can tell you is I've always had great respect for the program and players."
The Huskies own more titles (4) in the last 15 years than anyone. They also won in 1999, 2004 and 2011, including the last two in the state of Texas - San Antonio and Houston.
Duke (2001, 2010), North Carolina (2005, 2009) and Florida (2006, 2007) each own two since 1999.
A basketball preacher
Senior Tyler Olander was asked Sunday if the Huskies call Ollie by the nickname, "The Preacher." Ollie is a deeply religious man.
Olander gave the reporter a puzzled look before answering.
"He's a basketball preacher," Olander said. "He's really strong in his faith and passionate for the game. So you when combine those two things, he's preacher of the game."
News and notes
Napier needed five points to set the senior scoring record at UConn and pass Tony Hanson, a Waterbury native, who had 702 points in 1976-77. … UConn and Kentucky were the first programs to play for the national title after not qualifying for the NCAA tournament the previous season since 1966.
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