Jim Calhoun to Mike Francesa: Big East Tournament ‘Captivated The Greatest City In The World’ [WFAN]

by Categorized: Big East, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Syracuse basketball, UConn men's basketball

Jim Calhoun isn’t going to New York this week. He will watch some Big East Tournament basketball, he said, but since UConn is not there, he won’t be there.

But Calhoun, who led the Huskies to seven championships, took some time to savor the great memories of The Garden with WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Tuesday afternoon. If you didn’t here it, here is the full 22-minute segment on WFAN’s site.

Calhoun talked a lot about UConn’s first Big East Tournament championship, in that magical 1989-90 season we still call “The Dream Season” around here.

“We finally arrived where Connecticut needed to arrive. … I will never forget the way I felt the weekend I beat Georgetown and Syracuse, Jimmy [Boeheim] and John [Thompson], in the place I wanted to beat them. … The first one was special and the last one [in 2011] was special.”

If the Huskies were allowed to play in this Big East tournament as we’ve known it, “they would have been a tough out,” he said. The future is unsettled for UConn, but Calhoun said, “we’re going to be fine. Kevin Ollie did a tremendous job, we can build as other people have, but  our schedule is going to have to change, we can’t count on playing six ranked teams in the Big East.”

The league tournament that had its wonderful showcase in Madison Square Garden will be gone, or at least no longer include UConn, which first made its national reputation there in what the coach kept calling “a neighborhood fight.”


  “It’s sad … that tournament brings up so many  memories for so many people, it was just phenominal.  It captivated the greatest city in the world. … It was a great time, I’m just happy I was a part of it.”


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20 thoughts on “Jim Calhoun to Mike Francesa: Big East Tournament ‘Captivated The Greatest City In The World’ [WFAN]

  1. Hip Hop Hood

    Too bad that idiot Calhoun got us put on probation and kept us out of the last Big East tournament.

    1. Mark

      You must be young and can’t possibly understand the impact Coach Calhoun had on Connecticut… not just the school. UConn was not even on New England’s radar. Even after stepping down from coaching, look at how much he cares about the program. It’s like family to him which is why Coach Ollie has been an excellent choice to replace him too.

  2. George Syms

    I just cant believe that a Hall of Fame coach didnt have a better grasp on his team as students, couldnt do better in the class room. What a crying shame for the players that stuck it out.

  3. B

    In his defense, it was only the 2009-2010 season really. And, It could have been corrected before the NCAA changed APR standards and they way they considered the GPAs of transfer students. While Calhoun isn’t free of blame, he was not the only factor. I also think the NCAA needs some type of arbitrator to assess the equity of its legislative actions.

  4. TZToronto

    It’s difficult to force future multi-millionaire 20-year-olds to finish their class work and take their final exams–like a student who’s going to graduate and maybe make $30K. You can tell them to finish their courses, but if they don’t listen, there’s not much that can be done.

  5. Ray

    “didn’t have a better grasp on his team as students”–come on let’s be real! This was the case for each year he was the coach and he finally got nailed at the end of his career. You probably think that the Nate Miles affair was the 1st time he cheated when recruiting a top level player. He got away with it and became an arrogant bully who made millions!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. D

      If there was no Jim Calhoun we wouldn’t be here today nostalgic about UConn in the Big East…There would never had been the success that was achieved in Athletics and UConn likely never would have turned into the University it is today. Spare me with complaining about the millions he made as he brought far more money into the school than took out.

  6. revkev

    Talk about a lightening rod! Why don’t we talk about the Big East tournament? There’s lots of other places and threads where we might talk about Coach Calhoun and how aweful he was making an impact like that in the lives of all those young men, giving away such a patry amount of the money he made that it could only support a heart center, putting the university on the sport’s world map by creating a culture of winning at the highest level. People who succeed often have storied failures to go along with those successes – I wish I could fail like him. I wish we had lots of “failures” like him.

    Back to the tournament. I have some great memories of this tournament my favorite one being the year that I got to see the semi’s with three of the final four particiapting in it or how about Ray’s shot against Georgetown or Ben’s against Pitt? Oh yeah there was that ridiculous two day affair with the Orange or Kemba’s break down and then his wrap around pass. How about Taliek’s OT shot against Pitt?

    Let’s talk about that stuff why don’t we.

    1. teo

      I still think Ray’s shot against Iverson was the moment that I’ll always remember. It’s the one I’ll tell my kids and grandkids about. It was unbelievable.

      And, of course, Kemba and Pitt. That was unreal. Did he break that guy’s ankle?! That was so much fun. I was here — at work — and I was watching the score and noticing the comeback and then all of a sudden the screen changed and we’d won 76-74. That team was unbelievable. Really. So much fun. And what a streak!

  7. Jay

    When will some of you do the homework. It was one small group of players from one team that walked away from the school after the season and after their playing eligibility and did not finish the year at the school. They sunk the program. Not Calhoun. That has been the cause of the problem. Open your eyes!!!

    1. Mark

      Thank you for clearing that up. It’s amazing how ignorant some people are. People don’t realize that if players have bad grades, they immediately cant play. However, if players are transferring from a program, for example because of a lack of playing time, they’ll have plenty of time to get their grades in order while sitting out a year.

  8. BearJWS

    Hip Hop Hood – I don’t think anyone would ever include you in “us”… UConn & Connecticut want nothing to do with you. Go, Leave, Bye…

    And Calhoun didn’t put UConn on probation, a bunch of kids leaving before their spring semester did.

  9. teo

    It’s too bad to see these negative comments about Calhoun. He brought a lot of glory to the university and to the state and region.

    That said, it was not just a small group of players in 2009 that brought the current sanctions. Calhoun lacked the discipline to make sure that all — or even most — of his students graduated from UConn. He just didn’t seem to focus on this. If you read up on the graduation rates at UConn — over the entire period of time Jimmy was in charge, the rates were dismal. The data are available on the NCAA.com website. Usually, in his tenure, 20-30% of his recruits graduated within 6 years.

    This is very low — in the Calipari or Huggins range and much lower than the rates at North Carolina, Duke and Louisville. Of course, the university itself is partly responsible because while it became an academic powerhouse, its basketball players were less competitive with non-student-athletes (suggesting that these student-athletes weren’t qualified to succeed at UConn).

    All of that said, like I said, Coach Calhoun brought a lot of joy to mudville (or to Storrs). His teams nearly always played hard and his kids stayed out of trouble. On the academic side, though, Calhoun could have done better.

      1. teo

        Yes. Compared to where UConn was three decades ago, it is an academic powerhouse. It is ranked #63 in the US News for national universities. The top 5 of that group: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Chicago, Columbia. In the 60s: Fordham, Syracuse, Maryland, Purdue. It’s the only New England school with Law, Dentistry, Medicine, Social Work.

        Is it Harvard? No. But it’s quite a long way from where it was 30 years ago.

  10. Boston Guy

    Calhoun always put himself before his players and the school, no matter how much he may have done for the school and state.

    He worked for a public university and drove a Bentley on campus. Total DB. Period.

    1. Kici It

      Calhoun is a piece of trash that got us banned from the last Big East Tourney ever. Now he’s hanging on campus acting like he owns us.

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