As we know, Jim Calhoun is not yet ready to commit himself. Will he coach the Huskies this coming season? Or will he decide this is the time to call it a career.
That this is still a question at this late date is revealing. If he were certain of continuing, he would have said so. In March, after the Huskies lost to Iowa State, he talked of an announcement coming in the next few weeks. When I spoke to him in April, I was certain he was returning. A month later, we had a long sit-down interview just before he turned 70, and I came away less certain.
During the summer, he talked of making a decision in September. Then he fractured his hip. On Tuesday, Calhoun told me he was “going day by day.” My perception is that he still enjoys coaching and is honestly not sure what he wants to do. He is now getting to the office, on crutches, nearly every day – hardly a sign of someone ready to check out. Yet many at UConn who were once sure Calhoun was coming back are also less certain right now.
And it’s getting late. The first practice is about five weeks away and things are coming to a head. To Mark Blaudschun, former Globe reporter and a long-time Calhoun observer who has his own blog and also wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated (click here), Calhoun is saying something could be decided in the next two weeks.
For SI, Calhoun said:
“Depends on how I feel sometimes, but I’m very close to knowing. I’m just
going to wake up one morning and I will know what is the right thing to do.”
It’s no secret that Calhoun wants assistant Kevin Ollie to succeed him, and it’s no secret that AD Warde Manuel wants to keep his options open, rather than commit to a designated successor. One school of thought, out there all summer, is that Calhoun will retire at the last possible moment so that UConn has to hire Ollie. In that event, if he has an interim tag for this season, it would be Ollie’s job to lose. If the Huskies, with moderate expectations, overachieve in 2012-13, it would be hard to deny Ollie a long-term contract. My feeling: Ollie, 39, deserves the chance anyway, especially since so many recruits have noted that they were comfortable committing to play for him, if not Calhoun.
Calhoun is determined, he has said over and over, to be part of the UConn program “with or without a whistle,” and for this to be possible, he must leave on good terms. And with all Calhoun has done for the program and its place in the state’s culture, it would really be a shame if he were to leave on anything but good terms. We are in interesting times. It’s an historic moment for UConn basketball.