Nets’ Kevin Ollie happy UConn still dominating after his tenure

Kevin Ollie was in the middle of Connecticut’s ascension as an NCAA powerhouse, winning a national title as the Huskies’ head coach in 2014.

Though Ollie’s tenure at Storrs didn’t end well, with his firing four years later amid a violations investigation, the Nets’ interim coach was pumped to see successor Dan Hurley and UConn repeat as champions Monday night and secure the program’s sixth championship since 1999.

“Yes, it’s great. Just to see them and what Dan Hurley’s done, and an amazing coaching staff and the players, just to continue the domination is great,” Ollie said after Nets practice Tuesday in Brooklyn. “Every time we get to the Final Four, we get to the final game and we don’t lose. I’m glad the streak is still alive.”


Nets coach Kevin Ollie
Nets coach Kevin Ollie was happy for UConn. Corey Sipkin for New York Post

For a second straight year, UConn won all six of its games in the Big Dance by double digits, finishing with a record plus-140 point differential.

“That’s really difficult,” Ollie said. “That just shows how prepared they are, what they do behind the scenes when nobody’s looking. just them being all locked in and being unselfish. And it’s just great to see.”

Asked if UConn now has established itself as one of the NCAA’s “blue blood” programs, Ollie replied: “We should not be asking that question anymore. We know what it is. They try to still keep us out of there, but we’re just gonna make sure our work proves it and they can’t keep us out [any] longer.”

UConn was a member of the American Athletic Conference the year Ollie’s team won the title, before returning to the Big East in 2020. Along with Connecticut’s repeat, Villanova also has won two recent titles.

“It’s just the toughness that we play with,” said Ollie, who was a player at UConn when the school was previously a member of the Big East. “Just the wars that we go through before we get to the tournament. I think it prepares us to play very well, and it’s hard to play Big East teams when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare with the toughness and physicality that we bring.”


Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley cuts down the cut after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers in the national championship game of the Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on April 8, 2024.
Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley cuts down the cut after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers in the national championship game of the Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on April 8, 2024. Joseph Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cam Johnson (toe) and Nic Claxton (ankle) have been upgraded to probable for Wednesday’s home finale against the Raptors, but Dorian Finney-Smith (knee) and Dennis Smith Jr. (hip) remain out.

“If I feel comfortable enough to get out there, I’ll be out there,” Johnson said.

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