Jim Calhoun

Today is the last day of Jim Calhoun’s remarkable career as UConn’s head basketball coach.  While the day will be spent looking back on the almost unfathomable job he did building UConn into a national power, let us not forget the about the black marks that will forever tarnish his legacy.

Now, I don’t want this to come off as a negative.  The NCAA championship in 1999 was one of my top sports moment.  The win in 2004 was as great as it could get, combined with Geno and his Husky Womens’ title, it made CT the center of the hoops world.  The 3rd and final championship was so surprising and so special in hindsight, Calhoun probably should have hung it up as soon as he cut down the net.

After the 2004 season, UConn seemed to go away from what made them great: finding hidden gems and hardworking kids who bought into what Coach was selling.  Instead, the program started to go after high risk/high reward talent.  I think Calhoun had such a run of taking any recruit and turning them into “UConn Players” he started to believe that any kid could be saved.  As it turns out, Nate Miles, a kid who never but on the husky blues, was where his legacy began to unravel.

Enough of that though.  While almost every long-lasting coach (Paterno, Bowden, etc) has some sorta skeletons in the closet, I think it’s only fair to focus on what he accomplished here.  Something that a majority of pundits thought was impossible.  He single handedly turned a mediocre regional basketball program into a top-ten program in as little as 10 yrs.  UConn went from recruiting 2nd level New England talent to some of the best in the country like Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Donyell Marshall and Kemba Walker.  He was able to go over seas and grab players like Doron Sheffer and Nadav Henefeld that helped shape his legacy.  No one can ever take away his numerous Big East titles and his three championships.  No one can ever deny the fact that He and his wife have spent countless hours giving back to the people of CT through his various charities.

Unfortunately, as much good as the man did, there are plenty of detractors and readers of my blog know I am one of them.  While he did prove me wrong last year, the previous few I thought he was done.  Between his health issues and his poor recruiting choices, I thought he had passed his prime.  Lets be real too, if it wasn’t for the miraculous play of Kemba, that 3rd ring would not be on his finger.  Here is what I wrote about 18 months ago.

While I was only four months off, it still holds true.  To use a sports term, his legacy is what it is.  With the good comes the bad.  No matter what you think of him you can’t argue with the unfounded success he leaves behind at UConn.

In my heart, we’ll always have 1999!

 

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