By Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor Jason Schott of BrooklynFans.com - @JESchott19
UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie and his counterpart at Iowa State, Fred Hoiberg, have a long history together, and will face off in the Sweet 16 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Ollie and Hoiberg met at Ames High School, were teammates on the Chicago Bulls in 2001, and continued on the same path to coaching. Ollie played for 13 years in the NBA, from 1997 to 2010 before retiring to join Jim Calhoun's staff at UConn. Hoiberg played in the NBA from 1995 to 2005 for the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2005, Hoiberg became the first player to lead the NBA in three-point shooting and not be invited to the three-point shooting competition at the All-Star Game. He became the Assistant Vice President for Basketball Operations with the Minnesota Timberwolves after he retired and became the Head Coach of Iowa State in 2010 when Greg McDermott left to take the job at Creighton.
Ollie said of Hoiberg at a press conference on Thursday, "First of all Fred is a great friend of mine. We met in high school. As a matter of fact, we were on the same recruiting visit to Arizona. Both of us didn't decide to go to Arizona, and he went to Iowa State and I went to Connecticut and I think it worked out for both of us."
On their time in the NBA, Ollie said, "I had an opportunity to play with him at the Chicago Bulls and just one of the greatest teammates I have ever been around. Personable, would do anything for his teammates and he retired a little earlier than I did, and then he became the assistant general manager at Minnesota. And I was at the end of my career, and he took a chance on a 37-year old point guard. And he signed me for one year, and I thank him for that, also. He's just been a great friend of mine, and he's doing a wonderful job at his program. And just with our NBA experience I think we coach the same. We try to manipulate the defense. We try to go to different matchups. I look at him, and when he took the job at Iowa State and just filled in those shoes and just took it to another level. He's just a great person and he's doing a great job with his student-athletes. I'm a big fan of Fred's."
Hoiberg said of Ollie, "Yeah, any time you get to share this experience with somebody you're very close with, I think it makes it special. Kevin is as good a person as there is in this business. I think everybody that knows him, you're not going to find one person say anything bad about him.
"We went to Tucson together. Lute Olson had one scholarship and I think he told both of us, the first one who accepts gets it. Obviously neither of us took it. And to be able to play with Kevin a year in Chicago, we needed a mentor-type guy when I moved on after my surgery into the front office, and the first guy to call was Kevin, because I knew the impact he would have on our young players. He owes me because I resurrected his damn career (laughing).
"So you know, but and then he goes on to Oklahoma City and had the same affect on those guys. I saw an article the other day with (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook and James Harden, just the remarks that they had about Kevin, and how good he is as a mentor-type guy. And listen, Kevin and I weren't very good players, but to stick around, me for 10, hom for 13 years, you have to have some of those qualities to stick, a work ethic, good teammate, and that's what Kevin was. And that's what allowed him to play as long as he did. And he probably could have played a few more years, but I think he was in his mind ready to move on to the next step."