Jim Calhoun, the feisty Hall of Fame coach, has announced his retirement after 26 “and a hahf” years and three NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut.
In a quaint public statement last Thursday, Calhoun recalled early days of leaky roofs and acknowledged numerous long-term associates, invoking a Wizard of Oz, “behind the curtain” reference for those whose only notice comes to light when things go awry.
“I am Calhoun, the Great and Powerful!” A line that is actually rather fitting in that it is a carnival fortune-teller who is the “real-life”match for the wizard in Dorothy’s Technicolor dream.
It was going to require some mystical foresight in order to elevate the old Yankee Conference mentality in Storrs to Big East standards back in 1986. Why even Calhoun’s Northeastern program, which he had built from Division II status and which had produced NBAers Reggie Lewis and Perry Moss, was held in higher hoops esteem than the Huskies. His coaching and recruiting opposition would include the likes of Georgertown University’s John Thompson, St. John’s University’s Lou Carnesecca, Villanova’s Rollie Massimino and Syracuse University’s Jim Boeheim—in the conference alone.