Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun go back a good 40 years, to the day Calhoun brought his staff from Northeastern to Chapel Hill to observe Dean Smith in action during the early 70s, and Williams was a young assistant on that staff. Williams reached out to Calhoun and wanted to attend this event.
“About 100 years ago, it seems like,” Williams said. “… I wanted to come up here to honor him and help him in doing what he wants to do.”
Having coached at Kansas and North Carolina, places with long histories among college basketball’s elite, Williams, like many of Calhoun’s contemporaries, marvel at what he was able to build at UConn before retiring last September.
“I thought they’d have to take a fork lift to get him off that bench,” Williams said. “When Jimmy came to Connecticut, people knew where the state was, but they didn’t know whether they played basketball or not. The job he did at Connecticut, winning three national championships, I can’t even fathom what he did.”
“Roy called me and said, ‘I hear you have a great event and I want to come up for it,’” Calhoun said. “We’ve been great friends for over 40 years. I never tried to get a lot of love from other coaches. I tried to get respect. If you get friendship, that’s great. I have tremendous respect for Roy Williams. You don’t go in this to make friends. You make friends with your players – eventually. But you go in this to get the respect of people that you respect.”
Williams said, BTW, he is open to scheduling UConn as a non-conference opponent, as he has in the past at KU and UNC. “We schedule anybody and everybody,” he said.
Calhoun, who had knee replacement surgery six weeks., played a little at the Mohegan Sun CC in Baltic on Sunday, avoiding torque on the knee by starting no more than 150 yards out. Many of the celebrities and former UConn Huskies are being interviewed on camera by filmmaker Chris Martens, who is making a documentary on Calhoun which he hopes to air early in 2014. Many, too, will be contributing in some way to the Tribute to Calhoun planned for Gampel Pavilion on Sept. 22.