Larrier shines in UConn debut
HARTFORD – Terry Larrier had more time on his hands than he ever wanted last season, thanks to the NCAA transfer rule which forces players to sit out a year if they decide to leave a school. That didn’t stop him from making it a productive time during his first year at UConn.
“I was picking coach (Kevin) Ollie’s mind, getting from him what he wanted me to do on the court, offensively and defensively, and what I had to bring every day,” Larrier said. “(The time off) helped a lot, building chemistry with the guys off the court, and on it, too.”
While in high school, UConn was his runner-up choice for college, and ultimately selected VCU. After averaging 6.6 points a game as a freshman, he decided to transfer, this time picking the Huskies, with Maryland coming in second.
One year later, the 6-foot-8, 192-pound forward was back in action Sunday afternoon in an 83-68 exhibition victory over New Haven at the XL Center. Larrier was impressive, netting 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while recording team-highs in rebounds (seven) and minutes (31) and also adding a block.
Larrier was restless during last season, struggling to handle the long wait to finally play a game for the Huskies. But that didn’t stop him from preparing for when that time would actually come.
“It was definitely difficult, it was real hard at first,” Larrier, a Bronx native, said. “As the year went on and this time came closer and closer, it got easier, though.”
He also says the time off the court helped him understand the game on it better.
“For me, while sitting out, the game slowed down,” Larrier said. “I’m able to pick and choose the spots I’m going to be on the floor better.”
Larrier started at forward Sunday, occupying one of the slots left open after the versatile Daniel Hamilton left the program to declare for the NBA Draft. Ollie was asked after the game if he envisions Larrier playing a similar role that Hamilton did. While he’s hoping for a major contribution from Larrier, he sees them as different players.
“Daniel was an exceptional rebounder, and averaged almost nine a game,” Ollie said. “I’m not sure Terry can do that, but it was a good start with having seven rebounds. Terry is a better stretch (shooter) for us than Daniel, but Daniel made a lot of plays and had a lot of assists. We’re going to miss Daniel, but Terry did a lot of great things out there for us today.”
Like Hamilton, Larrier plans on helping in multiple ways.
“I’m going to try to do a little bit of everything,“ Larrier said. “Helping the bigs rebound, guarding bigs and guards, run the floor, make shots, get my teammates involved and getting them open.”
“The ways he runs the court, I think he will probably be one of the best guys in America from baseline to baseline and we have to challenge him to do that because it will be hard for a four to stay out there with him,” added Ollie, whose team’s next exhibition is against Southern Connecticut State on Saturday.
Gone from UConn is the aforementioned Hamilton, Shonn Miller, Sterling Gibbs, Phil Nolan, and Omar Calhoun, replaced by a heralded freshmen class of five which showed some of its promise Sunday, led by Vance Jackson’s 15 points and four three-pointers. The most important replacement this season, though, may be the redshirt sophomore in Larrier. His debut in a Husky uniform showed why.