There was never going to be a better time than now for Jim Calhoun to hobble off into the sunset.
This was Calhoun’s opportunity to step away from the game he’s helped elevate for the last four decades—his chance to leave a program embroiled in controversy of his own doing. Saddled with a back injury that’s already required surgery, the three-time championship-winning coach could have left on his accord after an even 40 years of head coaching service.
What a poetic ending it could be, should be, but won’t be.
University of Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel says the book on Calhoun is not yet closed. Manuel told the Hartford Courant he doesn’t have “any doubts” that the 70-year-old Calhoun will return to the sidelines to coach the Huskies for the upcoming season. Per the Courant:
Jim and I have had great conversations. I’ve gotten to know his staff. I could very well change my mind about it. But philosophically, it’s just one of those positions I have not gotten comfortable with, cutting off the options. It’s not anything more than that. It’s not that I’ve made a decision on anybody on the staff. I love the staff. I’ve grown to love Jim, in getting to know him. -Warde Manuel
Precisely what Calhoun is returning for or even to is anyone’s best guess.
The UConn men’s basketball team is facing steep academic sanctions—most notably a postseason ban for next season—stemming from low Academic Progress Rate scores. What’s more, the Huskies have lost four starters from a team that that won just 20 games last season before bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the round of 64.
Connecticut’s top two players from last year’s team—freshman center Andre Drummond and sophomore shooting guard Jeremy Lamb—have entered the NBA Draft and hired agents. Both are projected Top 10 picks. Rising senior and front court anchor Alex Oriakhi has transferred to Missouri while forward Roscoe Smith is leaving UConn for UNLV.
Longtime Big East rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh will not be around for much longer. The conference itself, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to have a concrete plan for its future, other than to exasperate its two fleeting members.