The Legacy of Coach Calhoun

The Legacy of Coach Calhoun

Is Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun really a great coach?

This is an odd question considering the circumstances. He is already in the college basketball Hall of Fame. He has won multiple National Championships. Numerous of his players have gone on to the NBA and yet, an inkling of the question still remains for a couple of reasons.

Reason number one: the violations.

UConn has gotten into loads of trouble from the NCAA under Calhoun’s reign. From recruitment sanctions to failure to meet academic standards to postseason bans, the Huskies haven’t always stuck to the rule book with Calhoun in charge (whether he specifically was responsible for the rule breaking or not).

Reason number two: the underachievers.

It seems there are a number of recent Connecticut grads that had not lived up to expectations. (“Grads” of course is being used in the most liberal of ways here as these men have not all graduated from the school). Many predict All-Star futures in the NBA for Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond even though they have yet to play a pro game. However, in Storrs, Drummond was a major disappointment and Lamb always seemed to be a streak or two away from putting things all together. Before them, it was Rudy Gay who never quite lived up to the hype in college yet is a very exceptional NBA player. Before him, the story was told about Charlie Villanueva. A small sample size it is but the argument could be made that Calhoun is not great at getting the most out of his most talented players.

Reason number three: the inconsistency.

After winning the National Title in 1999, the Huskies were bounced early from tournament play the following season and failed to make the NCAA Tournament entirely in 2001. After building back up to another title in 2004, the Huskies lost in the second round the next year and again failed to make the tournament in 2007. Calhoun’s most recent championship, in 2011, was preceded and followed by early tournament exits and settling for the NIT. Perhaps the build-up of expectations makes Calhoun and his players uncomfortable since teams usually flourish after a title, gaining notoriety and bringing in better recruits. UConn seemed to miss the Big Dance altogether more than any other top tier program.

In the grand scheme of things, there are fewer than five schools in the country that would not trade their head coach for Connecticut’s. Jim Calhoun has already made the Hall of Fame for a reason. Even still, the idea that Calhoun is infallible or untouchable in coaching circles is not true. Everyone has their shortcomings, even a three-time champ.

 

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