Kevin Ollie is fresh off leading the Connecticut Huskies to their fourth national championship in the past 15 years. His team finished in stunning fashion, becoming red hot down the stretch with Shabazz Napier leading the way. Ollie, only 41 years old, is a promising young coach who has a bright future ahead of him. If the Los Angeles Lakers do choose to dip into the college ranks for their next coach, they should seriously consider Ollie.
Ollie spent many years playing in the NBA alongside the superstars who rule the league. He was a decent backup point guard, who played the game the right way. He rubbed off well on younger players who admired his professionalism and commitment to playing. While not a star player himself, he understood his role and did whatever it took to win.
After his playing career, he spent two years as an assistant to Jim Calhoun where he was able to learn from one of the game’s bests. When given the head coaching job, there was much criticism as to whether he could handle the winning culture that the fan base demanded, as well as his lack of experience. Needless to say, he has exceeded expectations.
His first year involved a postseason ban due to previously poor academic performance, but he did well to guide the team to a winning record and convincing players to stay. This year, he was able to take an experienced team to the tournament, where he truly showed off his coaching ability.
He was never out-coached, which is saying a lot considering he was going up against future Hall of Famers. The Huskies were always prepared and played hard on every possession. Ollie got the team to play great defense, which was crucial to their run in the tournament. Their ability to keep the game close and let Shabazz Napier take over when needed was the reason that they won it all. Ollie understood the limitations that his team had, and got them to play to their strengths. The team was able to be patient and run their offensive sets instead of always forcing the issue.
Most importantly, he saved his best for the last two games. Florida Gators came out determined to stop Napier, but after a slow start, Ollie had his team adjust, and controlled the tempo of the game. Against the Kentucky Wildcats, he made sure that it was hard for the perimeter players to get into the lane, and devised a game plan that made Julius Randle inefficient.
His ability to think outside the box and play to his players’ strengths makes him an ideal fit for the Lakers. He has played alongside some of the best players, and knows what it takes to handle a star player. His youth gives him the energy to inject life into the Lakers organization, which is in need of a change after an abysmal season.