Ollie loses cool and UConn loses the game to Louisville
STORRS – Kevin Ollie’s sprint down the sideline to protest a non-call may have been faster than any player ran on Saturday night.
The two technical fouls he received for his reaction was even quicker.
The usually calm and positive coach, the man of zero technical fouls in 13 NBA seasons, was ejected for his outburst in UConn’s 76-64 loss to defending national champion Louisville at a deafening Gampel Pavilion.
Shabazz Napier called the scene “shocking” and the sellout crowd, maybe the loudest of the season at Gampel, was infuriated.
Ollie’s anger, which had been building after multiple questionable calls, came after Niels Giffey was hit attempting a three with 13:02 left in the second half. No foul was called and the ball rolled out of bounds for a turnover.
Ollie then lost it and received both technical fouls within seconds. He continued to yell at the officials as he was being escorted off the court by Kevin Freeman, the Director of Basketball Operations, and a police officer.
It’s a moment he is eager to move on from. Quickly.
“In that situation, I lost my composure. And I told my guys that,” Ollie said. “In the heat of the moment, you can’t lose your composure and I did that. I just thought it was a foul. We were down by nine and I thought Niels got hit in the shoulder and the arm. Yeah, it happens, but we have to go on from here.”
Mike Stuart, the official, spoke to a pool reporter and issued this statement:
“Two unsportsmanlike Class A technical fouls. The first one was reacting to running down the sideline. The second one was coming on the floor to protest the call.”
Count Napier, who delivered the pass to Giffey, amongst those in disbelief of the situation.
“It was shocking the foul was not called,” Napier said. “Coach reacted and they gave him one tech and the refs then reacted too, which is something that shouldn’t happen. Coach Ollie went down fighting for us and we respect him even more for that.”
“I am glad he had our back,” added Ryan Boatright. “He fought for us. Some of those fouls called were ridiculous and for him to get kicked out on that call was crazy.”
Bad calls or not, though, No. 18 Louisville (16-3, 5-1 AAC) was the better team and was well-deserving of the win.
“I’m thrilled, with this type of atmosphere, to come away with a hard-fought road victory,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. “This was a great atmosphere. I’ve been to Connecticut many, many times and this is the best atmosphere I’ve seen at this place.”
The Cardinals overpowered UConn in the paint, out-rebounding the Huskies by a 45-30 margin. Montrezl Harrell pushed around the UConn frontline in finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Russ Smith scored a team-high 23 points and Luke Hancock added 13.
“It came down to them out-rebounding us by 15,” Ollie said. “We’ve been doing a good job of getting those 50-50 balls and getting those touches. We didn’t do that tonight. That was the ballgame.
“We’ve got to take care of our paint,” he continued. “(Louisville) scored 40 points in the paint. That’s just way, way too many. It’s not like they have Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out there.”
While Amida Brimah played great last week against Central Florida, this moment and opponent was too much for the freshman. He finished with three points and five rebounds in 31 minutes.
DeAndre Daniels, after the best game of his career Thursday in Memphis, sat the final 14 minutes of the first half due to foul trouble and finished just 1-of-9 with three points. Boatright missed 10 of his 14 shots and Omar Calhoun was scoreless in 10 minutes.
Napier led the Huskies (14-4, 2-3 AAC) with a career-high 30 points and tried to increase his leadership role following Ollie’s ejection. It was a difficult task. During every stoppage, he was desperately trying to calm his teammates down and get them to relax.
“I was the next guy up,” Napier said. “I was kind of frustrated on how we reacted. We had guys continually looking at the refs and giving them dirty looks when they should’ve just looked the other way. In basketball, you’re going to get calls your way and against you. You have to live with it.”
The Huskies will have to live with this loss, and the anger it brought, until Tuesday when Temple visits the XL Center. The wait will probably not go as fast as Ollie's sprint.