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UCONN BASKETBALL FAN
I first covered UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun after I joined the staff of The New Haven Register in the fall of 1992. My beat was high school sports, but I crossed paths with him enough to glean that even in private moments, Calhoun was every bit the charming (but antagonistic), brilliant (yet hardheaded) man that the public perceived him to be. Over the years there have been many times when Calhoun was not thrilled with something I said or wrote, but he never quit talking to me. That was the best part about covering Calhoun: The man always had something to say.
I drove to Storrs last week to get a glimpse of Calhoun in Winter. He retired in September after 45 years on the sideline, but I found him to be the same man I first met 20 years ago—still acerbic (but considerate), confrontational (yet humble in his own way) and thoroughly at peace with who he is and how he coached.
Seth Davis: The ACC just voted to decide which school should replace Maryland [which will play in the Big Ten in 2014]. It came down to Louisville and Connecticut, and ACC presidents went with Louisville. Everyone knows UConn wants to get into the ACC, but the league is basically saying, You're not good enough to join our club. That's got to royally piss you off.
Jim Calhoun: I'm not angry at the ACC; everybody makes a judgment. Everything seems to be driven by football—we just beat Louisville in football, by the way. But they do have a better stadium, and to some degree, they're more of a football crowd than we are. It's difficult territory because I think we put $208 million into football. I just think we have to keep our options open but then stabilize where we are, because I don't believe this is all over. I think you're going to have four to five megaconferences and they're gonna feed off each other.
So it's a new era. Is it better than the old one?
In a certain way I miss the old one. There was nothing greater than going to Georgetown, Syracuse at the Dome, some of the great wars that we've had over the years. There was an intimacy because we were purely basketball. You settled problems with a phone call.
The first time I met John Thompson was at training camp down in Camp Millbrook with the Celtics. I was down there as a free agent and got an opportunity to try out for them, and John was my roommate for two days. You had those kinds of relationships back then.
I didn't realize you tried out for the Celtics.
Yeah. I was a 6'5" shooter—a small-college All-America—and I was scoring 23, 24 points a game [for American International]. We had a really good team.