Jim Calhoun’s earning raves for Connecticut’s 16-2 start, and rightly so. The Huskies were picked to finish 10th in the Big East before the season began, mostly because they didn’t have much beyond Kemba Walker.
For the first few weeks, Walker was enough. The guys like Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi and Shabazz Napier started hitting their strides and the Huskies got even better.
That Jan. 8 win at Texas? It might be the best win of the season by any team.
That play, slowly but surely, has allowed Calhoun to trust the rest of players and not lean on Walker to do quite as much.
“When you’re 16-2 and you beat the quality of people we have, you have more trust,” Calhoun told Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant. “And the team feels whether you have trust in them. They are the best blood hounds in the world. They kind of sniff you out to see, ‘Yeah, we’re all right.’ They know the difference between what you mean and what you’re saying.”
It’s also turned what could’ve been a trying season into one of Calhoun’s favorites.
“Winning makes everybody happy,” Calhoun told the paper. “Winning solves a ton of problems. Coaching a team that listens to you, that you can see getting better, getting better as a team, there’s a lot of pleasure in that, too. … It’s been a fun team to coach thus far. Because when you ask them to do things, they try to do it. It’s made it easier for me.”
Good thing he’s enjoyed it so much. The next three games could be rough. Starting with Tuesday, the Huskies play three teams in kenpom.com’s top 27 – Marquette, Louisville and Syracuse – then take trips to Seton Hall and St. John’s. That’s a brutal five-game stretch that would test any team.
But hey, the way UConn’s playing it should be breeze. And it sounds like Calhoun’s gonna love it.
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