- What do the years 1997, 2001 and 2007 have in common for the UConn men’s basketball team? Those are the seasons Jim Calhoun’s Huskies failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. It’s kind of strange to think that one of the nation’s premier basketball programs has missed the tournament just as many times as it has reached the final four in the past 12 years. But what’s most interesting is that each of those teams had one or more freshmen who would ultimately lead their team to the final weekend of the season.
The difference is that while ’97 and ’01 Huskies showed tons of promise, the ’07 version looked overmatched. The ’97 team was led by a teenager nicknamed Rip, who never stopped scoring and wound up winning a ring. The ’01 team had the combination of Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor, two kids who looked like lottery picks mid way through their freshman seasons.
But in 2007, the team was a disaster. A.J. Price, who Calhoun called the most talented player he had ever coached before the kid ever stepped on the court, was an average player and Hasheem Thabeet still looked as though he hadn’t quite learned the rules of basketball yet. That team’s best player was Jerome Dyson, who you can now find wearing snappy outfits on the UConn bench thanks to season-ending knee surgery.
That’s what makes the fact that UConn is back in the final four the most impressive coaching job of Calhoun’s long career. Even with the recent allegations that he may have committed recruitment violations, what Calhoun has managed to do this season is nothing short of remarkable.
- With that being said, I still think the NCAA should throw the book at UConn if an investigation proves that Calhoun and his staff were cheating.
- Staying on topic, the fact that Quinnipiac Coach Tom Moore’s named is linked to Josh Nochimson might be a blessing in disguise for the Connecticut program. There’s no way I ever wanted him to replace Calhoun.
- One last thing on UConn basketball – I promise. Learning that Nochimson may have paid for Nate Miles’ surgery because the kid didn’t have health insurance would normally make the NCAA look bad if it were to punish Connecticut for such a thing. No teenager should ever go without insurance. But in this case, the surgery made it possible for Miles to ultimately attend UConn, where he ended up getting expelled for beating up a woman.