Jim Calhoun must be wondering if he is the victim of mistaken identity.
After a recent diatribe in response to an activist’s assertion that his salary lacked fiscal responsibility, Calhoun has shouldered a bevy of harsh criticism. Some Connecticut officials have even called for a reprimand of the Husky coach.
A quick look at the path set out for UConn, and one would have to wonder if Calhoun is guilty of a Ponzi scheme and not a simple over-the-top tongue lashing.
Oh sure, UConn earned a No. 1 seed, which means they will open against No. 16 Chattanooga. Everything should be all right for the denizens of Storrs.
Recent history shows the Huskies can take nothing for granted.
The Huskies trailed No. 16 Albany by double digits late in the second half.
Calhoun’s crew recovered just in time to annoint George Mason the official bearer of the 2006 glass slipper.
One year later, the Huskies found themselves NIT bound after a first-round loss in the Big East soiree. And last year, Calhoun had a front row seat for the San Diego Toreros and their first-round upset.
This year Calhoun will need more focus from his group starting tomorrow with Chattanooga.
Do not expect John Shulman and his Mocs to roll over and play dead for the Huskies. Stephen McDowell, Chattanooga’s career three-point pace setter with 243, leads the Mocs averaging 18 ppg.
As a reward for their possible first round triumph, the Huskies get a potential matchup with BYU.
One month ago UConn would have been fine with this. Jerome Dyson was dropping 13-points a game, and Hasheem Thabeet was swatting put backs like they were shad flies on a hot summer night.
Since then Dyson has had season-ending knee surgery, and Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair used Thabeet for a rag doll to clean up the floor.
Now the 7′3″, 266lb. center looks too tall and not wide enough.
That could be an issue if UConn were to face BYU in the second round.
Oh sure, Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price should be able to protect Thabeet.
But the Cougars will load it up inside with 6'11" Chris Miles and 6'10" James Anderson.
Even a 6'10" senior, Gavin MacGregor should see some time. Give it to him inside. Thabeet will go for the block, and there is the possibility of a foul call.
Does not matter though. UConn should advance and by all estimates, they will run into Washington.
The West Coast Huskies travel 175 miles down Route Five to Portland for their first weekend of action. Lorenzo Romar’s gang drew a Mississippi State team that is as undeserving of a tournament spot as any.
The anemic Purdue Boilermakers and Northern Iowa Panthers will do battle opposite the Huskies and the Bulldogs.
And when they are all done Hasheem Thabeet will be staring at Jon Brockman - the nation’s active leader in career double-doubles. Oh yeah Thabeet has plenty of experience in the Big East. But Brockman is cagey character who can play a patient game.
Do not confuse the Huskies for a one-man team. Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Quincy Pondexter all score double figures per contest.
Calhoun will have his hands full. That is all right the native of New England has been through plenty of battles. He will persevere, maybe.
While all this is going on, the opposite side of the bracket could be best described as a tiger den.
Yes, there is Mike Montgomery and Gary Williams squaring off in the first round. That should be an interesting contest between Cal and Maryland. Both of those coaches have experienced the Final Four.
And there is Marquette and Utah State in the first round.
Buzz Williams and his Golden Eagles looked better when Dominic James ran the point. The Aggies rattled off thirty wins this year. They are capable of a couple more.
Missouri takes pride in their defense.
All of those teams would be worthy of meeting UConn in the Elite Eight, except they have to go through Memphis.
No doubt when Calhoun took a look at the West bracket, he cringed. Of all the teams to give him as the number two, why Memphis?
It might have been better to give the Tigers number one and take the two seed. At least Calipari would not have that piece to work with for motivation.
Yes. Calhoun is guilty of a tactless tirade. It only seems like he is guilty of a Ponzi scheme.