UConn men: Napier talks Ollie’s contract

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie calls out to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie calls out to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn. — UConn is 8-2 on the season with a win over Michigan State and are on the fringe of the Top 25 in college basketball.

At one point the players thought how they performed would have a direct result on head coach Kevin Ollie’s future. Ollie is on a one year contract and athletic director Warde Manuel has given no public indication whether he will extend Ollie past April 1st or not.

Point guard Shabazz Napier said at the beginning of the season that he felt pressure to perform so the players could keep Ollie as coach. He’s moved away from that view after 10 games.

“Warde (Manuel), our AD, we don’t know what he’s doing,” Napier said Thursday. “After Michigan State game I felt like he was going to get (the contract). Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. I came to terms with no matter what we do, it’s not going to be in our hands. We can win as many games as we want. I still don’t believe it’s going to be in our hands where (Manuel) is going to give him the job. Hopefully, we keep on winning and keep being great student-athletes off the court so he can see that Coach Ollie is just not about basketball. He’s about you being a man and maturing.”

Ollie has responded to repeated questions about his contract status with no hint of public frustration.  When asked last Sunday about what he tells recruits, Ollie responded that he tells them he is going to be the “coach.”

“I am going to be here for a lifetime,” Ollie said Sunday. “I am going to be here, not seven months, 7 years or 27 years. That’s what I am telling him. That’s what I say because that’s what I believe.”

Ollie responded to the contract question again on Thursday morning.

“I am going to do my job regardless,” Ollie said.  “It’s something I can’t control.”

Notes:

* The Huskies had an early practice on Thursday deferring to the women’s team, which required the court for the late morning and early afternoon.

* Ollie raved about the ability of Fordham forward Chris Gatson, who returned from a knee  injury and is averaging 12.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in four games.

“He’s just energy,” Ollie said. ” I think with hard work he will have a shot at the NBA. He can handle the ball and get it on the perimeter. Just not one place he will be at. He can be at the block, can also rebound and he can also stretch it out to the 3-point line and take opponents off the dribble. He’s going to create mismatch problems for us. “

The Rams are 2-8 on the season but with Gatson are a much more dangerous opponent.