Storrs-- Coach Kevin Ollie was correct in his assessment of UConn's 67-60 victory over Tulane.
"It wasn't an easy win," he said. "But we'll take it."
In a game that oftentimes saw UConn (15-11, 8-6 AAC) drift in and out of a sleep-like daze, the efforts of Amida Brimah, Ryan Boatright and Daniel Hamilton pushed the team to a much needed victory.
Hamilton and Brimah were especially dynamic this afternoon. Against Memphis, these two really kept the Huskies in the game and they built off that performance today. Brimah finished with a team high 19 points on 8-8 from the field. Hamilton, once again stuffed the stat sheet, finished with 7 points, 9 boards and 9 assists. Hamilton assisted on three dunks and a layup by Brimah down the stretch to salt the game away. Their alley oop play, a staple of the offense all year, really got the Gampel crowd energized and demoralized the Green Wave.
"I just like to get Daniel in some space...He has feel and vision. Everybody can't make that pass. He has a really good knack and Amida has a really good knack going up there and catching, eyeing the rims and finishing," Ollie said about the play.
That play isn't something that's really worked on in practice, according to Brimah. Instead, he insisted that the two have developed that chemistry in the offseason and in pick up games. Regardless of how it came to be, that play has been a devastating weapon for the Huskies.
This has been an impressive stretch of play from Hamilton. As he nears the end of his freshman season, he has really developed nicely into his game. Against Memphis, he put up a career high 25 points, while grabbing 9 boards and dishing out 7 assists. To follow that up with another stellar all around game speaks well of his potential going forward as the next great UConn player.
"He had some fantastic plays...That what we need from him. He's coming into his own and it's going to be great to see him develop over the next couple of years," Ollie said.
Following a game where he struggled, it was to be expected that Boatright would bounce back strong. The senior, playing his second to last game at Gampel Pavilion, did not disappoint. He played all 40 minutes en route to scoring16 points on 7-14 shooting.
This was not a perfect game from the Huskies, but it was one they absolutely needed to have. Coming off a blowout at SMU and a not quite enough comeback at Memphis, the Huskies needed to return to Gampel with a victory and they did just that. With the way this season has unfolded, any shot of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament seems outlandish. It will come down to the conference tournament in Hartford to determine whether or not the Huskies will have a chance to defend their title.
This team understands the position they are in, at least Boatright does. He said, "We control our own destiny. We needed to take care business today and build momentum into the conference tournament. Anything can happen in the conference tournament. Our backs are against the wall, we just gotta keep fighting."
Those are words you love to hear from your captain, UConn fans.