Calhoun should depart with dignity — in 2014.
Posted by athomeatfenway on March 17, 2012
I’m writing this before I read anything about Thursday night’s disturbing game in which Iowa State bounced UConn from the NCAA first round, 77 – 64.
The Huskies looked unnerved and poorly coached. Andre Drummond showed that he has no clue about offense after spending a full year under his Hall of Fame Coach. Alex Oriaki was out-of-synch when he got near a rebound or his own basket. Jeremy Lamb stayed in his shell for 25 minutes, waiting for someone else to step up and be the best Husky on the floor.
Ultimately, the poor performance is Calhoun’s problem, not the players.
Connecticut is out of the Big Dance and standing at a crossroads with Jim Calhoun.
Should he stay or should he go ? Left to his own devices, Jim will never leave. The ego is too big. Jim seems unconcerned with making a classy exit.
When Dean Smith retired from UNC in 1997 he left with dignity – and 2 National titles, 11 Final Fours and a record 879 victories. He produced NBA stars, D1 Coaches, good students, and Michael Jordan. Smith was 66 years old at the time. He left with a squeaky clean reputation.
There are similarities between the accomplishments of Dean and Jim.
Jim will be 70 years old on May 10. He has 866 career Div 1 victories. His UConn dossier includes 3 National Titles, 1 NIT Title, 4 Final Fours, 27 NBA players, and 4 D-1 Head Coaches.
Jim has had some academically talented students. There was Kemba Walker and Emeka Okafor. But Jim isn’t squeaky clean on grades & recruiting like Dean Smith.
Jim is responsible for failing to comply with NCAA regulations. Eleven months ago, Calhoun received a 3 game suspension and UConn was placed on a 2-year probation. The team forfeited one scholarship. These punishments were for recruiting violations and for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance.
Jim has also for several years brought in academically challenged student-athletes who lowered UConn’s graduation rate. As a result, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that UConn will be banned from the 2013 N.C.A.A. Tournament. Calhoun is ultimately responsible for accepting these ball players.
Given that, it is a little creepy to think about how Jim has defended the low graduation rate at UConn by referring to some non matriculating players as having “graduated to the N.B.A.”.
There is a dull odor of arrogance in that comment.
There are some real pros and cons to Jim staying.
If he leaves now he will damage the University’s recruiting capabilities. Taking away the N.C.A.A. Tournament AND the lure of being coached by a Hall of Famer is a double whammy.
But, if he leaves now the wheels will be set in motion to build the program under a new Coach.
If he stays, he can steer the ship away from the rocks and make ready for his successor.
And, if Jim stays he will be a constant reminder of the 2012 banishment that 3.5 Million Connecticut residents will endure next year.
Making matters worse, Husky Nation will likely see Lamb and Drummond leave in the NBA Draft. Next year could get ugly.
My vote is to keep Jim in the job for two more years. Let him clean up the program and make the violations and academics a distant memory. Give him a chance to depart with dignity and in the manner of Dean Smith.
In the long run, it is best to get the transition going. Thursday night Calhoun had a bunch of kids on the floor who (except for Shabazz Napier) did not want the ball in crunch time. Napier, and Walker before him, are exceptions. The last 6 years have seen a steady parade of Huskies that did not learn, improve, work together or step up.
Jim’s lost something off his fastball. For sure.