From Comcast SportsNetSTORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Kevin Ollie can win as many games, even as many national championships, as his predecessor and former coach did at Connecticut. But he can't transform the program. Jim Calhoun did that already.During his 26 seasons in Storrs, Calhoun turned a regional New England program into a powerhouse, becoming one of just five coaches to win three national titles or more. Add to that seven Big East tournament crowns and 10 regular-season championships. No wonder the 10,000 seats were usually filled at Gampel Pavilion, the arena Calhoun gets credit for building.All those accomplishments are history now. What's left are high expectations for a rookie coach.Ollie, who played for Calhoun from 1991-95, went on to a long NBA career and returned two years ago as an assistant, took over Thursday -- a choice Calhoun fully supported."Simply put, he epitomizes what we want our students to be about," Calhoun said. "When I started here we felt we could do anything and I feel that way now, everything's in place. This is an exciting time as we go forward."And a difficult one. He takes over a team that is banned from the Big East and NCAA tournaments because of poor academic performances.With a one-year contract, Ollie won't have much time to show what he can do on the bench and on the recruiting trail. And his depleted roster isn't likely to add to Calhoun's stellar numbers -- 27 players selected in the NBA draft, including 13 lottery picks."We're going to attack this thing head on," Ollie said at a news conference at Gampel, where he once thrilled UConn crowds with his hustle and defense. "We have enough to do it. Coach will be there right beside me as he has always been. He's been a second father to me from the day I arrived here as a recruit and believe me, that won't change."Ollie's contract will pay him a prorated 384,615 and ends on April 4, the last day of the 2012-13 basketball season.Athletic director Warde Manuel said there's a reason it's a single-year deal."I like to win and Kevin does, too. We're not here just to participate in games," Manuel said. "I'm looking to see how he is on the sideline. How he handles decision-making, substitutions, things that are normal in a game. How does he handle losses with the team and motivate them the next day to come back and play?"It truly is a long-term plan, but I want to see where Kevin is before we extend that contract. The commitment is there. He knows it."Ollie refused to get caught up in the discussion."Everything I've done has prepared me for sliding over into that chair," he said. "I'm going to coach this team like I've got a 10-, 15-year contract. I hope it's for a lifetime. I want to retire one day from the University of Connecticut like Jim Calhoun did."Ollie will have some familiar faces on the bench since all four assistants are staying."Kevin has always been a great listener," associate head coach George Blaney said. "He's a potential superstar as a coach, no doubt about that. Sure he'll be different than Jim, but there was only one Jim Calhoun."Several former UConn players were there to see one of their own become coach.Kemba Walker, who led UConn to the national championship with an incredible 11-game run in 2010-11, isn't worried in the least."He's one of the toughest guys I know," said Walker, who plays for the Charlotte Bobcats. "Kevin's UConn just like Coach is UConn. It's not one person here. It's everybody who played here. We are a family and it will stay that way."Connecticut has never faced a season like this one.It will have its first new head coach in 26 years and he is only guaranteed seven months on the job. There are only five players returning who saw significant playing time last season. There will be no postseason play at all. Those factors should make the job as tough as any faced by a coach in Division I.Don't tell that to Ollie."I told my players this morning, It's all stairs now. No escalators,' ' he said. "Escalators are for cowards. Every day now will be one step at a time."
Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.
The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.
Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.
David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl.
What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.
But in a roundabout way he might.
MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?
There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.
If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders.
Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.
Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).
For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich.
We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.