Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coach Profile: Jim Calhoun

Calhoun, The Architect, was given a predicament four years ago with the exodus of his entire starting class and productive bench players. He was left with an unproven point guard, a young hardworking power forward, and a backup point guard. He had to stock up a roster in one draft class and gave scholarships to players that wouldn’t have normally been given. Coming under scrutiny for his catch and release policy of recruiting, he has built in just three years a team that is talent laden in the back and front court. This team, though hasn’t won a postseason game in some time, has a great chance to make it to the Final Four. Not many coaches can do that.

Calhoun’s style mirrors that of the NBA. The man to man defense and pick and roll get players better suited for the next level. Blue chip players look at the pictures on the walls of Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Emeka Okafor, Rip Hamilton, and Rudy Gay and see the level Calhoun has been able to raise them to. Calhoun knows its all about the talent and he’s been blessed with some of the best.

While he attracts some of the elite talent, he doesn’t coddle them. He’s been known to belittle players, get tossed from games, and be just about as nasty as a man can get. He’ll yank a whole team off the court, refuse to switch defenses, and call out his players as soft. The man hates losing.

But with the success there is also the other side. Calhoun has had to deal with laptop thefts, failed drug tests, horrible grades, underage drinking, and a myriad of other issues. UConn does have high class alumni; Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Charlie Villanueva, and Ben Gordon are active in their communities. The best example of both sides of the issue is Caron Butler. He was a kid coming into Storrs with some baggage and upon leaving, he is a role model anyone would look up to.

Be it his robust coaching style, his recruiting practices, or his temper, there is no denying his ability to find talent, make them better players, and be winners. He’s proven on or off the court that he refuses to lose and he’s a fighter. And 'The Architect' has built another team ready to produce a banner of their own.

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