At times he was ornery, but mostly, he was just legendary.
Jim Calhoun racked up 873 wins during his 40+ years in college basketball. He won 625 games with the Huskies, along with seven Big East tournament titles, four Final Four appearances and three national championships.
Calhoun also tore apart about 150 of his own sports blazers, spat off more curse words in one game than most do in a lifetime and tirelessly fought for his program against the bulldogged media.
That's what Calhoun did. He fought. He was gritty. He never backed down. How else could he have taken a small program in the town of Storrs, CT and turned it into a national powerhouse? A university that was better known for its dairy farm and tasty milkshakes than its basketball team.
Within four years of Calhoun's ascension to the head coaching position at UConn, the team had won an NIT Championship, a regular season championship, a conference tournament and made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. All things the program hadn't done in almost 10 years.
Calhoun was also a fighter in his personal life, beating out cancer three separate times and working his way through numerous other off-the-court injuries. But through it all, Jim always came back. His fierce competitive nature and passion for UConn basketball couldn't keep him away. And we never felt comfortable unless Calhoun was there. He was Husky basketball, and winning seemed impossible without him patrolling the Gampel bench.
So, it'll be tough seeing the guy who built Connecticut's program from nothing to something over the past 25 or so years take his final bow. As someone from the Nutmeg State, I grew up cheering on the Huskies and don't know a team without Calhoun. He's coached some incredible players including Donyell Marshall, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay and Kemba Walker.
Former player and assistant coach Kevin Ollie will now take the reigns as the head coach at Storrs. Hopefully he's seen what we've all seen from the Hall of Fame coach over the years—and fights, and competes, and scratches his way through the end of every single season.
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