East Regional notes: SMU’s Larry Brown left impression on UConn coach Kevin Ollie

Posted Saturday, Mar. 29, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

SMU coach Larry Brown is responsible for Kevin Ollie being the coach at Connecticut. At least that’s how Ollie explains it.

Ollie, whose Huskies are one win away from the Final Four in his second season at his alma mater, was wavering slightly on taking the job when he phoned Brown, his former NBA coach and mentor, for advice.

“I wanted to get an unbiased opinion and I went to Larry,” Ollie said.

Brown, who has led the Mustangs to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals after being snubbed, some say, by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, thought Ollie’s decision was obvious.

“I’m going to hang up the phone on you if you don’t go back to UConn,” Brown told Ollie. “I thought you were smarter than that. It’s a great dream to come back and coach your alma mater. You would be a fool not to take it.”

That’s about all Ollie needed to hear.

Brown ranks at the top of Ollie’s many coaching mentors, and he had many to choose from during an NBA career that spanned 13 seasons. He played for 12 teams, including three different stints with the 76ers, the first two under Brown.

“He’s still my great friend today,” Ollie said. “If it wasn’t for Larry telling me to take this job, I don’t know if I would have taken it. He’s so personable. He treated me like I was Allen Iverson, and that always stuck with me. That’s why I try to treat every one of my guys the same.”

Ollie said Brown’s way of treating all his players with the same respect made an impact.

“I always remember that. That’s why I always want to be humble, and I always want to treat my players first. They make the program. That’s what I learned from him.”

German history

The last time Michigan State and Connecticut met was in the season opener a year ago. The Huskies won 66-62 in Hangar 5 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. UConn leads the all-time series 3-2. In 2009, the Spartans defeated the Huskies 82-73 in the NCAA national semifinals to advance to the title game.

“The biggest thing I think that is different from that first game [in Germany] is the experience,” UConn All-America guard Shabazz Napier said. “We have been through a lot; we understand that this is going to be another dogfight. We don’t expect them to back down, and I hope they don’t expect us to back down.”

Quotable

“I think it’s a shame that we put so much pressure on these freshmen and sophomores instead of letting them just enjoy their time. Our whole society is trying to speed it up, trying to put 16-year-olds into Harvard, and I don’t understand it. I liked being a snot-nosed kid. That was the most fun I ever had. And we’re trying to take it away. So I struggle with that a little bit.” — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, commenting on the preseason media coverage of incoming freshmen

“We have actually played better on the road than we have at home. We lost four home games this year, which is un-American and illegal.” — Izzo, joking about losing four times at home, including three Big Ten games

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @StevensonFWST

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
Portland «94Final | Box
Boston88
LA Clippers91Final | Box
Memphis «107
Charlotte93Final | Box
Miami «94
Golden State «91Final | Box
Oklahoma City86
Denver «101Final(OT) | Box
LA Lakers94
Full Scoreboard
Week 12Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Kansas City20Final | Box
Oakland «24Gridiron Replay
Sunday
Cleveland «26Final | Box
Atlanta24
Tampa Bay13Final | Box
Chicago «21
Cincinnati «22Final | Box
Houston13
Jacksonville3Final | Box
Indianapolis «23
Green Bay «24Final | Box
Minnesota21
Detroit9Final | Box
New England «34
Tennessee24Final | Box
Philadelphia «43
St. Louis24Final | Box
San Diego «27
Arizona3Final | Box
Seattle «19
Miami36Final | Box
Denver «39
Washington13Final | Box
San Francisco «17
Dallas «31Final | Box
NY Giants28
Monday
NY Jets 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Sunday, November 23Full Scoreboard
St. Louis «4Final | Box
Winnipeg2
Montreal0Final | Box
NY Rangers «5
Arizona1Final | Box
Anaheim «2
Chicago1Final | Box
Vancouver «4
Full Scoreboard