Friday, September 3, 2010
Coach Profile: Jim Calhoun
Looking Back: Calhoun had a tough time trying to find an identity for his team. He knew what Dyson and Walker would bring to the table, but Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards were still mysteries. The team started off strong, but showed signs of weakness. They had trouble holding onto leads and struggling against inferior opponents. They also had a very tough schedule, playing against elite squads and coming up short against a majority of them. Health issues again came up and he had to take an extended absence from the team. The season came to a horrible ending with UConn playing themselves out of an NCAA tournament berth with one of the worst Big East Tournament games in their history and wound up in the NIT where they took a very good Virginia Tech squad to the brink.
The Good: Even with the poor season, Calhoun still produces NBA caliber players and that attracts top talent. While his team underachieved last season, he is only one year removed from a Final Four. He still has the passion to coach and he resigned a highly priced multi-year contract that has stabilized the program which he has built. Even with his stern coaching and volatile attitude with the press, he is one of the most charitable coaches in the game today.
The Bad: Once again it starts with his health. It has been multiple seasons in a row that he has had to miss games due to an illness. He is getting up there in his age and the time for his retirement is on the horizon. Another thing that has plagued Calhoun for the past couple of seasons has been his catch and release of his recruits. He doesn’t have much patience for players making mistakes and if they don’t work out, he has no problem in showing them the door. While none of the recruits that left have said a negative thing about Calhoun, it does hurt the player by making them sit out an entire year. The NCAA investigation into improper contact with an agent and Calhoun's assistants lying to the investigators has also brought a dark shadow over the program.
Looking Ahead: The program will be on solid foundation for the next couple of seasons, but UConn should be looking ahead to grooming another replacement for Calhoun. He still has what it takes to win a National Championship, but he’ll have another young and inexperienced team to get him there. This should be his last rebuilding project and he’ll need to find the right chemistry on a team with a lot of uncertainties. He has an NBA caliber point guard but there are so many questions surrounding him. He’ll have to find the right combination and hope that some of the Sophomores mature.