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TOP Dogs
Grant Wahl
December 21, 1998
Khalid El-Amin and Richard Hamilton, a breed apart on the court, have the Connecticut Huskies in an unaccustomed spot: atop the national rankings
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December 21, 1998

Top Dogs

Khalid El-Amin and Richard Hamilton, a breed apart on the court, have the Connecticut Huskies in an unaccustomed spot: atop the national rankings

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"I've had two or three teams that I thought were good enough to win the whole thing, but things happened along the way," says Calhoun. "Christian Laettner made a shot that I thought was impossible. Donyell Marshall had 266 foul shots in '94, and he missed back-to-back shots twice all year. When UCLA won in '95, we were the best team, no question, just as Kansas was the best team two years ago and didn't win the title. I know this: There's no secret formula."

That hasn't kept Calhoun from retaining the services this season of a sports psychologist, Alan Goldberg, who has been working with six of the Huskies on "confidence building and learning how to deal with distractions," says Calhoun. "We need to be focused not on doing what other people expect us to do, but what we expect us to do." With 19 newspapers covering the program, UConn basketball—the men and the No. 1-rated women—holds the state's rapt attention. Small wonder that the Huskies' shrink made a house call at the team's hotel before the UMass game.

Calhoun is quick to say that he doesn't consider this squad his best—that honor falls to the '93-94 Huskies, with Marshall, Ray Allen, Travis Knight and Doron Sheffer—though left unsaid is that when the best teams don't win, somebody else has to. "For a select 15 schools, unless you get to the Final Four, it's not going to be a good season, and I'm glad we've climbed the ladder to be in that position," says Calhoun. "But I'm like our fans. I'm greedy for a national championship."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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