Huskies fade late in Jimmy V Classic
Jimmy V led the Wolfpack to the 1983 NCAA Championship Game and upset the heavy favorite "Phi Slama Jama" Houston Cougars team that featured future NBA Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Valvano died in 1993, but gave one of the most memorable speeches in sports history just two months prior at the ESPYs, imploring everybody watching "don't give up, don't ever give up." Although the NC State ties to the The Jimmy V Classic are obvious, Valvano was once a UConn assistant from 1970-72.
"It's just an honor to come back to Madison Square Garden as a coach and be around this whole event, how it impacts the people," said UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. "Even after his death, it's beyond basketball. The legacy of his name lives forever. We're going to beat this disease, but it's going to take everybody's effort to come out and keep giving funds to the research."
Ollie also said that he'd "come back as many times as possible to support it."
Shabazz strokes early
Junior guard Shabazz Napier seemed to be a little gun shy shooting the ball in UConn's previous game against UNH, scoring only five points (2-9 from the field) in the contest.
However, Tuesday night was a completely different story.
The UConn leading scorer hit three shots from behind the arc in the first four minutes of the game and scored 15 points in the first half, going 4-6 from three-point land before the intermission.
However, Napier wasn't able to keep his hot start going, as he only scored four points during the second half.
"I wasn't as aggressive as I was [in the first half], but I also feel like we didn't run through our plays with the same intensity we did in the first half," Napier said.
Ollie called Napier and Boatright "the focal points of our pick and roll offense," and that "other guys need to step up."
Wolf breaks out
UConn's reliable big men Tyler Olander and DeAndre Daniels struggled against the size of NC State, so Head Coach Kevin Ollie was forced to go to his bench. Seldom used center Enosch Wolf answered Ollie's call and provided an impactful spark off the bench for the Huskies. Wolf had four points in the first half, but came to life in the second as he caused NC State slashers fits getting to the rim.
"He seem like he likes the big stage, whenever we have a big game he shows up big time," Ollie said of his German center. "He has confidence, but he knows his limitations," Ollie said. "Some other players don't know that sometimes. That's a great strength of his."
Wolf finished the game with 12 points (6-8) with nine rebounds and an assist.
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