Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Lie that is Jim Calhoun

Hey star recruits - if you want a school to showcase your talents, by all means, pick Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut. However, you better darn better be sure that you have those talents ready-made coming in, because if you don't, you just might find your ticket to the next D I-AA school.

Listen, anyone who has read this site for any length of time knows I'm not about bad-mouthing players or coaches. However, I was so appalled by the following story , sent to me by my co-hort Bryan, about Jim Calhoun after the Huskies' disappointing season that I had to say something. Of course, it's not like Jim Calhoun needs any help building his reputation as a scummy coach. But this one really takes the cake for me.

First, let's set the stage. Calhoun, the Hall-of-Fame coach, just came off one of his worst seasons ever, with his club not even getting invited to the NIT. So what is his response on how he plans to "fix" the problem. How about escorting one or more of his players to the door, suggesting that they take the opportunity to find work elsewhere:

"There will be a couple of changes to the roster mandated by our performance, mandated by our inadequacies, mandated by some kids who probably deserve to get a chance maybe at a different level," Calhoun said.

"Mandated"?.................... MANDATED?............. Oh..........my......... gosh ................. please tell me that this guy that is propped up by the media as an ambassador for the collegiate game didn't just say that........ Oh, but he did........... and more:

"There are some guys on our team who could have very successful careers maybe at a different level," Calhoun said. "They're young and this would be a good time for them to at least think about what their future is, and I'll be very honest with each and every one of them."

"Rob said, `I want to stay,'" Calhoun said. "He put on 10 pounds. It just wasn't
good enough [to play]. But he's a good basketball player and should have a
successful career someplace. I'm not saying Rob Garrison is leaving. I'm only
telling you ... there will be those situations."

Let me translate - "Hey kid, You were a stud high school player and yes, I lured you here. However, it's evident I'm not going to win with you on my roster because I don't have time to 'develop' you - I have to win now, and my problem is that I don't have any scholarships to offer with you sitting on my bench, so here's what we're going to do. You're going to ask for a transfer and I'm going to go after somebody who is ready to play now. It's that simple. You get a nice feel-good college career somewhere else and I get the rings. See how this works?".

Oh, by the way - did I mention - Rob Garrison has asked for his release from his LOI from UConn. Oh yeah..........

"After talking to coach Calhoun over the past week, I have decided to explore my options and look into the possibility of transferring to another school," Garrison said in a statement.

......... and Ben Eaves is transferring too. You think Calhoun would have signed them if he thought they were stiffs? He didn't, but they just weren't as "ready" as he thought. SO OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!!

By the way, did I mention the real reason this is happening? Sir Calhoun has no scholarships to award because he chose to sign 8 guys in one class? Did I mention that? So here's what we have:

  1. Calhoun loses a ton of players to graduation and the NBA after winning the NCAA championship (beating our Jackets in the process)

  2. Calhoun signs 8 new guys and brings in another (including Stanley Robinson and Curtis Kelly, two guys Hewitt recruited hard), for a total of 9 freshman in one class

  3. Calhoun tells every one of them that they will be a star at UConn - to just look at Okafor, Gordon and Gay.

  4. Calhoun struggles with such a brand new roster filled with underclassman, which most people would absolutely expect and understand.

  5. Calhoun realizes that this group of guys do not contain a bunch of Okafor's, Gordon's or Gay's.

  6. Calhoun also realizes that he has no scholarships to award to build upon his weak spots and really won't have any to offer for another 2 years.

  7. So, after watching the players for a season, Calhoun decides who is going to make an impact and who isn't going to help him stay on top.

  8. Then Calhoun decides that those who won't cut it will be "cut". Unfortunately, since he begged them to sign LOI's, legally all he can do is publicly and privately pressure them to get out while they still have good years left to contribute at Rhode Island and Wright State............ and that's just what he's doing.

You know, the next time you criticize Coach Hewitt for poor on-the-floor coaching, just remember - it's the whole package that counts. We're talking wins/losses, player development, graduating kids, building character, discipline. We all want to win championships, but Coach Hewitt stands for a lot more than just winning ball games. Don't forget that. He has represented this program with class and respect and reverence. Don't forget that after OUR 11-17 season, what was Coach Hewitt's response? He said it starts with him. HE had to make changes. Coach Hewitt is the whole package, but unfortunately we don't build shrines to people who are good citizens - we build them to people who can win games.

For Jim Calhoun, he has dropped all pretense about anything other than the wins and losses. I'm sorry, but Calhoun is the poster boy for the the hypocrisy that is the NCAA. I won't turn this into a tirade against the NCAA. I'll just say that Jim Calhoun is a product of the system. You know - don't hate the playa, hate the game. Any way you look at it - he's not an honorable man. He's not a leader. He's not a guy I would EVER want my son to play for. I would rather have my son dealing with Bobby Knight choke-holds or Coach K's f-bomb-a-palooza.

The key message is to recruits - chose your path wisely. Don't be fooled with Coach Calhoun. Know what he is when you sign your life away. Yes, his program has enjoyed tremendous success. Yes, he wins championships. But he doesn't do it by developing players and developing young men. He does it by bringing in the best talent and letting them do their thing. He doesn't care if a kid steals laptops, as long as he can bomb 3-pointers. If it appears that you're "not all that", don't expect 4 years of coaching and development. Expect to sit on the bench or worse yet - be pressured to leave so he can make room for the next high school all-american.

Don't be fooled. Jim Calhoun is a fraud. I cannot believe I am going to say this, but watching Florida do their thing was impressive. They did it with good but not elite high school talent, but they bought into a team concept, a system, and the coaching staff developed those kids. What Billy Donnovan has done is impressive, although even he was NOT the apple of anyone's eye until he starting winning championships. That's just the way our society works. In my book though, there is more honor in the process of how you get to where you are than the ultimate result. Of course, our "one shining moment" society doesn't preach that, but it matters to me. I want to win like everyone else, but it has to be done the right way.

I just feel dirty after reading that trash.