Item: Jim Calhoun’s health concerns combined with no postseason to play for equal the end of an era in Storrs.
It would have been a great answer to a trivia question: Name the last three college basketball coaches who retired after winning their final game, the NCAA title?
The “answer”: John Wooden in 1975, Al McGuire in 1977, and… Jim Calhoun in 2011. Except, of course, even with nothing more to prove on a Hall of Fame career with a trio of gold trophies already on the mantle, Calhoun the competitor wouldn’t let that trivia question come to fruition.
He came back for one unfortunate final season in 2011-12 in which he missed time for health reasons, and the Huskies, a 9-seed, were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Often times we cite the one college football and the one basketball program that went from regional, smaller school status in a somewhat out-of-the-way locale, to a national title contending program on an almost annual basis in its respective sport.
In football, it’s been Virginia Tech and Frank Beamer in his 26 seasons in Blacksburg tucked along the mountainous Virginia/West Virginia border in the southwest part of Va. In basketball, it was Calhoun and UConn in his quarter of a century guiding the Huskies and getting elite recruits from all over the country to visit the remote countryside (farmland) of eastern Conn.
Since 1986, Calhoun built the rivalry with the ‘Cuse and Jim Boeheim that many in Orange Nation felt had overtaken Georgetown. His departure makes Boeheim’s longevity that much more impressive.Brad Bierman