The Connecticut Huskies, two years removed from an NCAA championship, are on the bubble heading into the AAC Tournament. Granted, the Huskies (21-10) have double-digit losses, but they also played a tough non-conference slate with games against Michigan, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Maryland and Ohio State, among others.
Could the Huskies really miss the tourney if they don’t take care of business this weekend?
“You always want to position yourself in the best advantage as possible and that’s winning as many games as you can,” Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We got our destiny in front of us. Everybody can talk about (being) a bubble team, but you still have to prove yourself. What we’ve did over the years and our tradition – once March comes, we play our best basketball. That’s all I want our players to understand. Don’t get caught up in past failures and don’t get caught up looking at the future. Let’s take care of now – and the now is going to the AAC Tournament, playing our best basketball and hopefully winning. And then once we play ourselves in there, can’t no one take us out.”
Connecticut, seeded fifth in the AAC Tournament, plays No. 4 Cincinnati (22-9) on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. The Huskies went 0-2 against the Bearcats this season, losing 58-57 at home on Jan. 28 and losing 65-60 on the road on Feb. 20.
“We got a great opportunity,” Ollie said. “I just never seen the team that played the hardest ever lose a game. I just never seen it before. So I want to make sure we outwork our opponents. However it may fall, it may fall. But let’s make sure at the end of the day that we’re outworking our opponents and out-willing them and preparing very, very hard for a great battle with Cincinnati.”
Whatever happens this weekend and beyond, Ollie, who played 13 seasons in the NBA, might get a few phone calls from front-office execs this offseason. Might we see the 43-year-old Ollie back in the NBA sooner rather than later?
“I always assess my situation each and every year,” Ollie said. “I love my job. I love being at Storrs. I’m UConn-made. I’m not self-made. I’m UConn-made. They made me the man I am today. I love the people around here. I’m excited about our 2016 freshman class. I’m not looking to go anywhere anytime soon, but like I say, I’ll always do what’s best for my family, always do what’s best for this university or for myself. I think right now God has me right where he wants me at and that’s at the University of Connecticut.”