Alex Oriakhi Sr.: ‘It Was Not About Jim Calhoun’

by Categorized: Alex Oriakhi, Jim Calhoun, UConn men's basketball

Alex Oriakhi Sr. wants it known that he was not referring to UConn or Jim Calhoun in his controversial tweet on Monday, which I used in my story for the Thursday a.m. Courant. 

 I want to set things straight for him here.

 “The words ” master-slavery mentality”  was not about Coach Calhoun,” Mr. Oriakhi emailed me today. “… I never mentioned anyone by name. The timing was disingenuous. I love coach Calhoun no matter what. I did what is best for my son.”

Alex Oriakhi Sr., who gave me permission to use his email, is a frequent commenter on this blog, and on our main website, and his comments and tweets can be critical, but, of course, a father is allowed to defend his son.

 He said he was referring in this tweet to another coach at another school. … My bad here.



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30 thoughts on “Alex Oriakhi Sr.: ‘It Was Not About Jim Calhoun’

  1. Matt

    His son deserves a second chance since that’s the type of player he is. After all, all of his points are second chance putbacks that he gets the rebound on after he throws up a hideous layup. I’ve never seen a big man struggle so much with the ball around the rim as much as Alex does.

    I have no use for ppl who leave UConn and bring negative limelight to my school which is the best in the nation. Like I said when Hogan left- ppl think there is something out there greater than UConn and they leave. Just ask Hogan how that turned out. You can find him on the unemployment line.

    Doug Wiggins, Antonio Kellogg, Jamal Trice, Darius Smith, Ben Eaves, Lew Perkins, Randy Edsall, Mike Hogan, Dwayne Difton, JCM, my SID buddy Leigh T. You all left UConn in search of greener pastures. All you had to do was look at the window of your office/dorm room and realize that you aren’t going to find as many green pastures on any college campus in this nation as we will at UConn! We have an Argicultural school for Christ’s sake!


  2. GiddyupDDP

    I say good luck to Alex Jr, thanks for the great job in the championship run, make sure you get a degree as your future is not in prof basketball. And who gives a !@#! what Alex Sr has to say about anything.

  3. kevin

    no one is buying his statement here, kid does have ability, go make something of yourself and stop blaming anyone other then yourself. Hard to do at 21 yrs old when you think you are invincible.

  4. Perry Mason

    Dom, why do you need need to “set things straight”? He tweeted the quote, putting it out there for the entire world. This wasn’t some off the record quote, or something that was said in a private conversation. And now he wants to play coy about who he was talking about? Based on his comments on courant articles, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if it was about Calhoun. It seems like you should be a little more skeptical of his explanation here.

  5. Andrew

    Does Alex Sr. ever shut the %#*$ up? Of course you were talking about Calhoun, stop back tracking and man up if you’re gonna say something. Furthermore Alex Sr, why are you STILL on the UConn tweets and boards? Your family quit on UConn – I can’t say I get it…

  6. Brian

    Alex, thank-you for your play last year in our Championship run. But, more importantly, thank-you for leaving and freeing up a scholarship. Drummond and yourself had a chance to dominate the glass this year and you failed miserably. Defense means HARD WORK and I just didn’t see it. Good luck to you and start working on your internships and resumes, because playing ball for money is not going to happen.

  7. mike c

    All players coming to UConn these days think they are potential NBA stars. When reality strikes them they are in a panic and need someone to blame. Alex is no different. He is a big guy with limited skills and the list of these guys at UConn is very long. Andre Drummond is a guy who will make a lot of money up front but unless he learns how to box out and play the post he will be toast in the NBA. Lamb is probably one of the smoothest offensive players I have seen at UConn in 40 years of watching. Jeremy will be better in the NBA than in college. He is soft and lazy and does not play defense. Just what the NBA likes. I hope coach Calhoun does retire this year. He has been a great coach! I would like to see the new guy get some kids who are committed to Uconn and team basketball.

    1. Marty

      Man just one year away from a championship and Alex and Jeremy are getting trashed.Well I appreciate their effort,dedication and accomplishments at UCONN and wish them well.As for Calhoun, you missed how many games?10.Time to designate a successor,become the elder stateman and smell the roses.Kevin Olie-thats the future.

  8. rev kevin loughran

    It’s so funny to me how diverse opinions might be about the same set of facts. I appreciate Alex Sr.’s posts because they bring a different perspective. I’ve certainly been as frustrated as anyone and everyone else at Alex Jr’s play but that doesn’t make him a bad kid – I’m frustrated because he has such potential. More importantly he’s always been a good kid in my opinion and a fine representative of the University – I wish him well – sometimes leaving can be in the best interest of everyone involved – I think that’s the case here – I hope his dad is reading this and will say thanks to his son for me – were my buddy DC still covering Men’s Hoops I’d ask him to do that. So if you are out there Alex Sr. tell your son thanks and God bless from RevKev in St Pete – How about considering a Florida school so I can go watch him play?

  9. Hanson

    Always wondered since seeing AO play, why someone with so much God-given gifts could play so bad for the majority of the time. Jeff Adrien would be an NBA beast if he had AO’s “gifts”. But after reading his father’s tweet, not difficult to understand why the kid doesn’t have much mental toughness nor character. What a waste of talent, its all between the ears ! Good Luck Alex !

  10. Chris

    Do you really think if he was talking about Calhoun he would back track and say he wasn’t? I mean, if you’re gonna call someone something as extreme as a slavemaster, you obviously wouldn’t care enough to lie afterwards and say you weren’t talking about them. Also he stated he was talking about a high school or AAU coach.

  11. BigJoe

    AO is not smart. He is probably going to end up at Hofstra or a Delaware which has about a 1% chance of making the NCAA Tourney next year. If he has pro aspirations, he should stay at Uconn and polish his game in front of 10,000 people and espn every game instead of 2,000 at Hofstra

  12. Terry

    Can’t blame AO for wanting to do whats best for him. Playing 2nd fiddle to Drummond isn’t in his best interest nor the teams. The Napier/Oriaki coalition, how it came to be, I don’t know, but I know it’s there. Anyone who looks close enough can see it. They created a division on this team and that’s not in UCONN’s best interest. So, let the two of them ride off into the sunset and hone their European careers at a star friendly low major program.

  13. dave

    Oriakhi Sr. is a buffoon. “I did what is best for my son.” Taking him away from the coach who has produced more pros than any in the last twenty years, including a bunch of bigs. Let’s tell it like it is. Oriakhi is a punk who cried when Drummond came in and took his spot. He couldn’t beat out a kid who shoots 30% from the free throw line. At least JCM left because he wasn’t good enough to play big minutes at UConn. Oriakhi is scared to compete, and that was very evident through his apathetic performance this year. Funny how Alex is one of the only players who couldn’t handle Calhoun’s “unfun, mental hospital” approach. Worked well for Kemba, Emeka, Rip, Ray, AJ, Rudy, Caron, Kevin Ollie, Donny, Donyell, Boone, Armstrong, Marcus Williams, Lamb, etc., etc.

  14. Mike

    This is not a big loss. He is a secondary player. Who sulked most of the year over lost playing time. That had to hurt the team especially coming from a captain who is suppose to lead.

  15. John Cavanaugh

    I’m not happy that A.O. is leaving.I found him to be a puzzling player.When he got the ball in good position in the low post he was often able to get to the rim but he did not finish successfully very often.Part of the problem may have been confidence but th other part was surely touches.Any post player needs more touches than he had.Offensive post play production is not a new problem for UCONN.It has been an issue most years.This year its particularly acute because the half court offense was so disorganized and they did not have an effective high post player.
    If this issue has a role in his leaving I think its hard to argue with it.Its unlikely that his skills and production would improve a whole lot next year unless there is a major overhaul in the way they run their half court offense.After winning three national championships major overhauls are not in the cards.

  16. Hanson

    Agree with Shoes, I think Napier was a major reason this team underachieved. Trying to be Kemba when he doesn’t have Kemba skills. Could not direct all the talent the team has. Almost feel like he doesn’t get along with Lamb, just by body language. Hope Boatright starts next year.

  17. Jayzee

    AO, jr is a good kid, nice personality and, a worker bee. The team just deferred to AD too much and AO couldn’t get the ball unless he was in traffic. Reality is that if AD leaves, AO will flourish. Relationship in college is coach is king and players are pawns, it is an internship, a vocational school course and I can’t imagine any young athelete who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be part of it. Slave-master comment is prejudicial and was unwarranted.

  18. Jose

    There are 2 ways to be effective in basketball as a post player. One is to hustle and be a bully under the basket (leading to put backs) and the other is to have a more refined game where you seal to establsh position, kick back, seal off again, get it back and throw it down or turn and face. The latter requires touches while the former requires grit. Jim Calhoun favors grit. He is an old school coach who believes the finessing happens on the perimeter. This is the kind of basketball that I enjoy watching (Mahorn, Lambeer, Rodman doing the brusing; Zeke, Dumars, and Vinny the finessing). It is a clear-cut style of basketball – roles are clearly defined. While UCONN had the bodies to “bang down low” it did not appear the players wanted to be the big brutes they were called to be. One could argue they could have done better if they had more touches but the kind of basketball these players signed up for required they get their touches in transition by running the floor and off the offensive backboard. To make matter worse, players of similar build (Kevin Jones, Jae Crowder, Herb Pope, Royce White) routinely out-hustled UCONNs front line and made them look inept as defenders. This season was the biggest dissapointment in UCONN history, to me, (yes, even more so than the George Mason debacle) because of the expectation I had of these young men (good guys all of them) to be BIG bullies. And Alex, unfortunately, needed to be a more effective leader – leading by example; leading the big east in Rebounds, getting 10 points off O rebounds, being assertive. The season was lost, in large part because too many front court players were too nice. That’s not JC and that’s not UCONN ball. Good luck Alex.

  19. Bob

    @Big Joe – hard to say this kid’s “not smart” when he’s sporting a 3.6 average for last semester. If you are saying that he’s not making right decision for his professional development, well that’s a whole different case.

    To the other negative posters, keep in mind that Alex played a big role in last year’s national championship before you trash the kid too much. But for his dad’s “disingenuous” tweet, you might not be quite so down on Alex.

    I wish him well and agree with the posters who suggest that it may well be everyone’s best interest.

    1. Desmond

      Last comment was on. He was sporting a 3.6 which is highest among all his varsity basket ball peers while making honor roll. The reality is he was an all American player brought in too play. He feels he is not getting the playing time he deserves…which is his right to feel. I agree he fumbles a lot and mississ a lot of bunnies but at the end of the day it’s his choice to transfer. You can’t blame him for that. He delivered Connecticut a. Championship something thousands of other div.1 players will never do so be grateful he did do that instead of harping on his decision to transfer. Which him luck and everyone moves forward.

  20. Andrew

    I am not buying this for a second. I do appreciate what Alex did though in the title run, I do think that made him think he was better than he is. I have never seen a big guy struggle to dunk the ball off a rebound or finish. He never goes up strong. He is a good player but not a star, him and his dad need to realize this. Thanks for the memories AO and please dont go to Duke, I dont hate you yet but I could if you go there

  21. Desmond

    Also the Jerome D. And s. Robinson year was definately a bigger disappointment with them not even making the dance.
    Furthermore Calhoun makes some seriously questionable decisions. And maybe he can be blamed for the dissention.
    You can punish one player for a mistake then let it go for another. It sets the wrong prescident.

  22. Eric V

    Alex is the kind of player who needs to be involved early. If you watched him over the 3 years he has been here he plays like a beast when he is involved early but seems to disappear when he isn’t. Good Luck AO and thank you for your 3 years

  23. md

    C’mon Alex – we all saw bits of “what could have been” at UCONN. Nice to see you starring in the cream puff part of the schedule at Mizzou. Noticed your dust up at Louisville. Looks like they focused on your stars, leaving you as “the man”. After a couple of years at UCONN, Pitino knew “Oriakhi can’t beat us alone”. So you put up respectable numbers, in a 20+ point defeat. How does that feel? Bittersweet? Reality is Calhoun thought he could make you an NBA player – he broke many a young buck. Instead, you just marched to the beat of your own drum. Enjoy the rattle of your drum, the SEC this year, and a basketball life in Europe or Asia afterward. That’s where your next ticket will be punched. You CAN’T beat a legend at his game. But I’m sure you’ll continue to try. In the end, you did it your way – very admirable. Best of luck with that approach, kid. Maybe some day you’ll realize Calhoun had a clue what he was talking about. Respect and Loyalty matter bro.

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