Monthly Archives: March 2010

Just How Good Are the UConn Women? ESPNU Campus Connection Video

I know I don’t usually cover Women’s Basketball on the blog, but my producer at ESPNU asked me to do a video on what UConn Students think of the Lady Huskies. How good do the students think the team is?

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With UConn in NIT, NCAA Tournament Not the Same

The NCAA Tournament will always be a special event. It is an event that has brought a lot of glory to many schools over the years, including here at the University of Connecticut. But for this Husky fan, the NCAA Tournament just isn’t the same without Fightin’ Jim Calhoun’s taking part. Now I get that the reason UConn is not in the tournament is their own fault. When you lose your last four games of the season, including being trounced by lowly St. Johns in the Big East Tournament, you can’t expect to go dancing.

Last season’s run to the Final Four brought so much excitement to the UConn campus and to the state of Connecticut, just like it did back in 1999 and 2004. Everyone was talking about UConn and the team’s trek to Detroit for the Final Four. Excitement was abundant all over campus and the NCAA Tournament was even more exciting because it was our school who was not only a part of it, but was a leading contender to win it.

So this year’s NCAA tournament is really exciting, just as it is every year. But for UConn country it’s just not the same. It’s hard to get excited about our team playing in the NIT against Northeastern, when the previous year the team was playing in front of 75,000 people against Michigan State in the National Semifinal. Jim Calhoun and his players might not say the same thing, but they gotta be thinking it.

As a basketball fan I’ll continue to watch March Madness, but with less effort, anticipation, excitement, and overall interest. Let’s just hope our UConn Huskies can rebound next season and get back to the NCAA Tournament, cause I need my Fightin’ Jim Calhoun’s in the big dance.

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Calhoun Retirement Rumors Hurting Recruiting

From the Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun says it’s been difficult to convince players to come to Connecticut when other people are telling them he’s about to retire.

The 67-year-old Hall of Famer says that’s why he issued a statement last week reiterating what he’s been saying since December — that he and the school are on the verge of signing a multiyear contract, and that he plans to continue coaching at UConn.

“The reason that we announced something that we already knew is that we were getting killed on the recruiting trails,” Calhoun said Monday. “Nothing drastically has changed. I’m just waiting to get a copy back of the signed contract.”

NIT Tournament Bracket
Following the road to the NIT championship on April 1 at Madison Square Garden. NIT Bracket

A story in New York last week cited people close to Calhoun as saying he would retire at the end of the season. Calhoun said there was no truth to it, but recruits had told him they were hearing the same tales.

“During the year kids are being told that I wasn’t going to come back, they all knew this,” Calhoun said. “I had one guy tell a kid that I told them, and I don’t even speak to the guy.”

Calhoun has won two national championships at Connecticut and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Several off-the-court issues had prompted questions about Calhoun’s future last year, and questions were raised again after he took a medical leave of absence in January, missing seven games with an undisclosed condition.

Calhoun said he doesn’t talk to recruits about any other coach’s personal issues, but knows that some others don’t play by the same rules.

“Do I like it? No,” he said. “Do we do it? I hope that no one on my staff has ever done that. That’s not how we recruit.”

The Huskies (17-15) lost last Tuesday in the first round of the Big East tournament, and will play Northeastern on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.

Sophomore guard Kemba Walker said he doesn’t believe the rumors affected the team’s play. Still, he said he’s glad the coach has put the issue to rest.

“I knew he was coming back,” Walker said. “Having him say he was coming back was big especially for recruits. Of course, it’s good for us. That’s the guy we committed ourselves to, so yeah, it’s a good feeling to know he’s coming back.”

Walker said he will sit down with Calhoun after the season is over and discuss whether he should play another year at UConn or declare for the NBA draft.

“He’s going to let me know what the best possible choice is for me,” Walker said. “Coach Calhoun has told guys when to leave and when not to, and from guys [in the NBA], it’s turned out for the best, so I’m going to listen to him.”

UConn will lose seniors Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards to graduation this season. The program has signed two players for next season — center Michael Bradley and guard Jeremy Lamb.

The Huskies have a verbal commitment from highly touted small forward Roscoe Smith.

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UConn is NIT Bound

The UConn Huskies have had a disappointing season to say the least, but the team still has a chance to end on a positive note. After being left out the NCAA Tournament, just one year after making the Final Four, UConn will face the Northeastern Huskies in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament. UConn finished the season at 17-15 overall and 7-11 in the Big East. The Huskies lost their final three must win regular season games and then lost in embarrassing fashion in the first round of the Big East tournament to St. John’s.

The NIT is not what the Huskies or its fans had hoped for at the beginning of the season, but the NIT Tournament has a special place in UConn history. In 1988, when UConn was rarely in the conversation for either tournament, it did get an NIT bid, two years after Calhoun took over the program. They won that year and captured the imagination of the state of Connecticut, if not quite the nation, and established a culture of winning that led eventually to three Final Four appearances and two national championships.

The Huskies will host Northeastern on Tuesday March 16 at 7pm on ESPN2.

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