Did anyone really expect Jim Calhoun to retire and immediately disappear from the scene of UConn basketball?
If you did, you’ve already been proven wrong, as the Hall of Fame coach announced at a local chamber of commerce breakfast in Cromwell, Conn., “I’m not going away. The state of Connecticut, you’ve got me for life.”
Calhoun is working as a fundraiser for UConn in his post-coaching days, and his main project is to raise money for the school’s new basketball training facility.
But while he has a new status, Calhoun still plans on traveling with the team on occasion, and Kevin Ollie will certainly continue to seek his mentor’s advice. Calhoun clearly views Ollie with fondness. That’s why he essentially hand-picked Ollie as his replacement. So, of course, Calhoun will offer any help he can give.
You have to imagine the Huskies want Calhoun around — after all, every player on this year’s team committed to play for him. But there also has to be a balance.
With Ollie as a first-time head coach, there will be immense pressure mounted on his shoulders. Every coaching miscue, every bad loss will be blamed on him. If Calhoun lurks in the stands or at practice too frequently, critics will have more fuel to call for Ollie’s head if the Huskies’ season is worse than expected.
However, it seems that Calhoun recognizes the need for this balance. He knows he can’t have too much of a presence. According to the Associated Press, Calhoun said, “You and I both know, first time we don’t play well or something, if I’m sitting right there, it’s not a good thing.”
As for Ollie, the presence of Calhoun is definitely welcomed. Calhoun coached Ollie in college and then hired him as an assistant in 2010, so the rookie head coach knows how to take advice from the Hall of Famer. He understands that Calhoun loves him and the program and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the success of either.
“I think coach is always there with me, on my side,” Ollie told the AP. “He wants to see the program succeed and go forward.”
Now, only time will tell if Calhoun can maintain the appropriate balance.