The only thing more perplexing than the Pac-12’s decline this season has been Connecticut’s inconsistency.
Few teams can match the defending NCAA champions in talent – no fewer than three first-round NBA draft picks dot the roster – but the results haven’t matched that talent. A 20-13 season? An 8-10 finish in the Big East? That’s four games behind South Florida. Yes, South Florida.
But the Huskies have won three of the last four and gave No. 2 Syracuse all it could handle during the Big East tournament quarterfinals on Thursday. Now that coach Jim Calhoun’s back on the sidelines after a medical leave of absence, UConn seems like a team that could make a surprise run through the tournament field, making it one of the more intriguing teams in March.
Pete Thamel of the New York Times thinks it’s even better than that, though. Given Calhoun’s recent health concerns, he’s not so sure once UConn loses that Calhoun retires and the program may spiral “toward oblivion.”
Calhoun returned, but his career mortality seems more evident. This is the third season that he has missed games with a health problem. The sun is clearly setting on Calhoun’s career, and the question is whether the university will nudge him out or work with him to devise an exit plan before the lost season of 2012-13 looms.
The new athletic director, Warde Manuel, who will start March 19, pointed out that he played for the Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, who had two heart attacks.
“There’s no nudging,” Manuel said of Calhoun. “That’s not where we are. I don’t walk in there with that mind-set of nudging on making any decisions about his future.”
Does UConn take a hit when Calhoun eventually retires? Possibly. Maintaining what he’s done would be a gargantuan task. (Three NCAA titles since ’99!) But heading “toward oblivion” is overstated.
Can UConn not hire another coach?
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